Marco Reus exploded on to the Bundesliga scene in 2011/12. Thanks to his consistently excellent performances, Borussia Monchengladbach were transformed from relegation play-off strugglers last term into high-flyers this season, as Die Fohlen (The Foals) secured fourth spot and a shot at qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. The reality and scale of the achievement has yet to sink in for the speedy and technically gifted attacking midfielder, but fans and experts alike are convinced a golden future beckons for the 22-year-old.
“If someone had suggested before the season we’d end up fourth, we'd have thought he was mad," the player said, laughing. “You have to say what we've achieved this season is nothing short of outstanding." Speaking exclusively to FIFA.com, Reus confirmed he is one of football’s more open and carefree characters.
And there is no doubt his personal contribution was exceptional. He finished the campaign with 18 goals and 11 assists, the fourth best player in the German top flight in this respect behind only Robert Lewandowski of Borussia Dortmund, Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich. In the annual poll of Bundesliga players conducted by respected magazine kicker, Reus was duly named player of the season by his peers.
Positional change to aid Germany cause?
Reus is now set for a big step up in his career with a summer switch to German double winners Borussia Dortmund. Before that, he is aiming to hit the headlines with his country at UEFA EURO 2012. “If I make the final squad, it'll be my first major tournament," he said. “Up to now I've only been able to watch on TV, so being there would be fantastic."
Only a brave punter would bet against the 22-year-old making Joachim Low’s final party of 23. The attacker, a Dortmund youth product who has now cost his former club some €18m to rehire, is currently with the Germany squad in the southern French town of Tourrettes for the second of the team's pre-tournament training camps.
However, Reus faces hot competition in his favoured position. Mezut Ozil (Real Madrid), Mario Gotze (Dortmund), Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller (both Bayern), plus Lukas Podolski (Cologne), Andre Schurrle (Bayer Leverkusen) and Julian Draxler (Schalke) are competing with Reus for three berths in the Germany coach’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.
I'd like to see him right up front as an out-and-out striker. He turns incredibly quickly, he’s agile, lively and finishes well. He’s never played the position before, but it’s worth thinking about.
However, Low is toying with a radically different plan, as he reckons Reus is not exclusively a midfielder. “I'd like to see him right up front as an out-and-out striker," the coach said. "If we're up against opponents who pull everyone back behind the ball, he can be the most advanced pivot in our passing game. He turns incredibly quickly, he’s agile, lively and finishes well. He’s never played the position before, but it’s worth thinking about. I’m relatively certain it would work out well in our team.”
Reus might well prove an interesting alternative to more conventional frontmen such as Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose and Cacau. The player himself is certain there is room for him in the formation favoured by the national team. The man capped four times at senior level so far has shown great versatility for his club, switching at times to the flanks or the centre, but always posing a threat in front of goal.
“I've shown I can play in a number of positions, and that's important," he stated. “I often played as a central striker for Borussia this season and it went well. But I'm quite happy out on the wing too, so there's no single position where I'd say I'm better than anywhere else."
A lightweight at just 70kg, Reus is a model of confidence at the present time. He exudes self-belief, even when considering Germany's tough group, which includes Portugal, Denmark and the Netherlands.
“In the past, we've shown quality in depth often enough," he said. "Obviously we respect all our opponents, but we're not anxious or worried. We know what we're capable of."