By Jerry Mancini.
Prior to the 2018/19 Bundesliga campaign, Borussia Mönchengladbach had struggled to earn a spot in the upper echelons of the table.
In the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons the club finished within three points of ninth, but since then have finally had shown they are able to mix it the stronger clubs.
In his five seasons with the club, Thorgan Hazard played an important role. He scored more than ten goals in all competitions in his last three seasons with Gladbach, and last year was his best campaign with 13.
French attacker Alassane Plea joined from Nice and contributed to Hazard’s success last year when the two players developed a good relationship up front and combined for 28 goals.
Hazard, who played on the left-wing, was creative and tricky, allowing his teammates to join the attack and contributing to Plea’s own goalscoring. The two worked well with each other and were destined for future success with the club.
But the Belgian had other plans, and in the summer of 2019, Hazard left Gladbach to sign a five-year contract with Borussia Dortmund. The departure of Hazard meant that the club needed to invest in a new forward who was suitable to play alongside Plea. After careful consideration, the club decided to sign Marcus Thuram from Ligue 1 club Guingamp for an undisclosed fee believed to be around €9 million.
In his first season in Germany, Thuram has done an outstanding job replacing Hazard, filling in regularly on the left but playing the majority of his games more centrally. The Frenchman has been able to replace Hazard’s goals this season, and is currently tied with compatriot Plea on ten in the Bundesliga.
Plea has developed good chemistry with his new team-mate, which has enabled him to carry on where he left off last season with Hazard.
Thuram’s versatility has given Gladbach head coach, Marco Rose, plenty of options and has demonstrated good strength, speed and great footwork.
“I believe that Marcus is far from the end of his development,” said Rose. “There’s a lot more to come from him.
“Marcus is a footballer who benefits greatly from his physique and stature. Nevertheless, he’s also a fine technician, who can always deal with situations in tight spaces.”
Aside from scoring goals this season, Thuram has averaged two dribbles per game, which is the most in the team alongside Denis Zakaria. He also has eight assists to his name.
During Saturday’s match against Bayern Munich, Thuram was forced off early with an injury. He tried to play through the pain but was unable to continue.
Breel Embolo replaced him and played 73 minutes in the match, but struggled to get involved in the game, having just 17 touches and losing the ball four times. Embolo made poor decisions on the ball, looked very slow at times, and didn’t display great movement. He also failed to convert one of the games bigger chances, which would have given Gladbach the lead at that moment.
Thuram’s presence on the field was missed as his speed, precise passing, movement and ability to finish his chances could have made a difference against Bayern. The forward has done a great job in his first season with Gladbach and his play has already caught the attention of clubs such as Juventus.
With three games remaining in their season, Gladbach cannot afford to have Thuram miss any playing time as they aim to finish in the top four.