He has been the most discussed player within the Black and Yellow community for quite some time. Yunus Mallı could join his former coach Thomas Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund, increasing squad depth and overall quality of BVB’s attack.
Who is Yunus Mallı?
A Kassel-native, he started his career at Hessen Kassel before moving to Mönchengladbach in 2007. After four years in the youth ranks of the long-standing powerhouse in Western Germany, Mallı was promoted to the reserve team of the Foals, making eleven appearances in the fourth division. In the summer of 2011, Thomas Tuchel convinced him to join FSV Mainz 05.
Making his Bundesliga debut in a match against Hertha on October 22, 2011, Mallı has become a crucial part of Mainz’s offense over the years. Particularly in recent months, the technically gifted German-born Turk was not short of highlight reel moments.
Even though he slightly faded after ripping through several Bundesliga opponents in the first third of the season, Tuchel is still interested in signing his former disciple. Following the departure of Adnan Januzaj and Jonas Hofmann, Dortmund is in need of another attacking player to be prepared for eventual injuries.
What makes Mallı special?
He preferably plays on the wing or as a number ten, but can also be fielded as a striker up-front. His ability to sneak behind opposing back-lines could be the perfect complement to the skill-sets of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. As the latter tends to stay in front of the opponent’s defence, Dortmund usually need a second attacking player who penetrates the space behind the back-line. Plus, Mallı can hide his weaknesses in the pressing department when playing in the first line.
Marco Reus surely is the perfect fit on the right side. However, Tuchel has to manage his player’s energies intelligently. And Mallı, in particular, resembles Reus to some extent. Moreover, the position of a right-winger would favour his preferred shot location, as the 23-year-old is very effective when shooting from the right half-space into the left corner – either with a linear right-footed shot or a left-footed curler.
But the reason many Dortmund fans love the idea of signing Mallı in the winter transfer window is his ability to make defenders look stupid. Mallı has a diversified set of tricks when taking on opponents. For instance, he uses delaying moves to set up sidesteps with the intention to beat the player right in front of him, or he waits to give his team-mates time to get into the right spot to receive the ball and maintain the play.
A speciality, Mallı barely tips the ball with his toes, but rather drags the ball with his lead foot. Most of the time, he slides the ball with his right foot to his left hip, controlling the ball very accurately and using the natural dynamic of rotating movement.
Despite sparing looks over his shoulder, the Turkish national player precisely knows where the opposing players are and how he can avoid pressure. He has a clear positional awareness and is able to anticipate challenges from players behind or laterally next to him. Particularly due to his consistent changes of direction, opponents can barely grasp him, even when he is entering the penalty area.
Having said that, Mallı needs free space to be most effective. He does not shine in compact pockets like Shinji Kagawa. Instead, Mallı makes use of gaps the opponents leave open. At Mainz, he mostly capitalizes on counter-attacking plays, in which he and the players alongside him can run into open zones, can play passes freely, and can overwhelm the opposing team with sheer intensity.
Mallı is not the kind of instigator who anticipates the routes of his team-mates that well that he passes the ball into no-man’s-land knowing that one of his colleagues will pick it up. His through balls are usually the result of calculated decision-making, attempting to avoid unnecessary turnovers, while putting emphasis on the accuracy and right timing of the balls he plays.
As a consequence, you should not buy into the idea of Mallı replacing İlkay Gündoğan anytime soon. He lacks pieces of the strategical mind-set you need to create plays out of the backfield. He compensates his deadness in terms of playmaking abilities with an in-your-face mentality. Mallı is able to provoke and annoy defenders. He keeps on and on with the firm conviction that he can beat you any day of the week.
Mallı made his first steps in professional football under Thomas Tuchel. The now Dortmund coach knows exactly what Mallı brings to the table and where he has some for improvement. With a few Bundesliga seasons under his belt, it should be the right time to join the highly talented attack of Borussia Dortmund, without getting lost in the shuffle.