Bayer Leverkusen and Germany winger Julian Brandt is a player in demand, with Bayern Munich reportedly waiting to pounce and plenty of English Premier League clubs keeping an eye on him too.
Manchester United are among those who reportedly sent scouts to Leverkusen’s 1-1 draw against Cologne last Wednesday to watch Brandt, while Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton have also been linked with a move.
Here are five things to know about the versatile 20-year-old — who can play on either wing or centrally, but predominantly on the left, and featured for Leverkusen in both Champions League games against Tottenham Hotspur this season.
1. Germany’s national team have high hopes for him
Germany’s World Cup-winning head coach, Joachim Low, views the player as important for the future of the national team. Brandt has already been capped four times by Low — twice in World Cup qualifiers and twice in friendlies, with all those appearances coming in 2016. “He’s a player who can find solutions for one-on-one situations,” Low said. “You can play against defensive teams with them [players].”
2. He is already an Olympic medallist
Brandt had just turned 20 when he went to the Rio Olympics in the summer, helping Germany to the final of the football event in which his teammate Serge Gnabry — formerly of Arsenal — was prolific. In the final against Brazil at the Maracana, Brandt stayed cool enough to score in the penalty shoot-out but the hosts won, as Neymar’s kick proved decisive. The German had also hit the woodwork with a 25-yard strike in the first half and impressed throughout.
3. He helped his side into Champions League
Brandt had a run in which he scored six goals in six games while still only a teenager last season, which helped Leverkusen qualify for the Champions League. He became only the second teenager in Bundesliga history to score in six successive games. Back in April 2014, he had also scored on his first-team debut for Leverkusen against Hamburger SV, making him the youngest-ever player to score a league goal for the club.
4. He is not easily seduced by big-club glamour
Despite being chased by some heavyweight clubs as a teenager, Brandt opted to join Leverkusen in January 2014, after coming through Wolfsburg’s youth ranks. Speaking to Bild about why Bayern Munich would not have been the place to go, he said: “Young players stay at Bayern for a half-a-season often enough and then go on a loan. That’s a good path but I wanted to make a name for myself here at Leverkusen for a longer period.”
5. He used to work as an office administrator
Brandt took on an apprentice role during his time as a youth player at Wolfsburg, describing it as “interesting.” He did not finish it, however, as it took up too much time at a point when it was increasingly clear that he was going to make it as a professional footballer. It was a good job that he stuck with football, as Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller has called him “one of the most talented players in German football.”