UEFA.com's weekly wonderkid: Konrad Laimer
Saturday, 30 January 2016
Described as "incredibly aggressive" and "always at full throttle", Austria Under-19 midfielder Konrad Laimer is doing his bit to help Salzburg retain the Bundesliga title this season.
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Konrad Laimer is the second-youngest debutant in the history of the Austrian Bundesliga and last year turned heads with his performances at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Under contract with Salzburg until summer 2017, the midfielder is on the radar of several of Europe's top clubs. Meet UEFA.com's latest weekly wonderkid, who early next month will hope to be involved in Salzburg's UEFA Youth League play-off tie against Roma.
Name: Konrad Laimer
Debut: 1 August 2014 for Liefering v Austria Lustenau
Position: Holding/central Midfielder
Date of birth: 27 May 1997
Preferred foot: right
They say …
"For his age, he is quite advanced in his development. He is incredibly aggressive on the ball, challenges opponents very hard and brings established professionals to the ground. He knows exactly what he wants."
Former Salzburg coach Adi Hütter
"As a player, he is enormously attentive, receptive and can implement things. He always goes full throttle, always wants to improve and shows extraordinary skill in winning the ball. But – and this is meant in a positive way – he still has potential to improve."
Former Salzburg and Liefering coach Peter Zeidler
Laimer joined Salzburg's youth setup at U10 level. In summer 2014, the then 17-year-old moved to Salzburg's feeder side, second-tier Liefering, but by September had returned to his parent club and made his Bundesliga debut. Laimer was a regular in the first-team squad last season, making eight top-flight appearances in all and featuring three times in the UEFA Europa League. Laimer was the youngest player in the Austria squad that reached the last 16 of the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
Playing style …
Laimer is the archetypal midfield driver. His intelligent positioning and pressing make him a handful for opposing sides. His robust approach is also an asset.
His build and style make people think of his former team-mate Stefan Ilsanker, while Laimer himself cites Steven Gerrard as his role model. He is not as attacking as the former England captain, though he still has plenty of time to develop that part of his game.
Eureka moment ...
On 28 September 2014 – aged 17 years, four months and one day – Laimer made his Bundesliga debut as a late substitute against Rapid Wien. Ten weeks later, on UEFA Europa League matchday six, he was given his first European start, impressing in a 5-1 home victory over Astra Giurgiu.
Best-case scenario …
Laimer has gone from Salzburg to Liefering and back again this season. He returned to Salzburg on the instruction of interim coach Thomas Letsch and played for 90 minutes in each of the two matches before the Bundesliga winter break. It remains to be seen how much playing time Laimer will get under new coach Óscar Garcia.
He says …
"I want to continue my development step by step – I have the perfect conditions to do that here in Salzburg. I am still very young and don't have to make the move abroad just now. I am taking my own path, but whenever I need good advice I turn to my parents. With my father, I talk more about my football career; with my mother I talk about my prospects for the future in general. I trust my gut and I'm not afraid of making the wrong decisions."