Goal takes a closer look at the Germany international, who is already drawing comparisons with Mesut Ozil because of his build, technique and wand-like left foot
By Paolo Camedda
Wolfsburg midfielder Maximilian Arnold made headlines in Italy for the first time earlier this week with the revelation that Juventus are keeping tabs on the promising youngster. Sporting director Fabio Paratici is a keen admirer of the 19-year-old and the Serie A champions will continue to monitor his progress over the months’ to come.
In the Bundesliga, however, Arnold has already developed into something of a household name – despite his tender age. The midfielder is already in his fourth season at Wolfsburg and has netted nine goals in 22 Bundesliga appearances since making his official first-team debut in 2011-12.
His rise to prominence has not only attracted the interest of Juventus but also Arsenal, who are keeping a close eye on his development.
Arnold was born in Riesa in the former GDR and started his footballing career at local side BSV Strehla before joining SC Riesa, where he remained at the club’s youth academy until Dynamo Dresden came calling in the summer of 2006.
His immense potential quickly caught the attention of bigger clubs and Arnold made the step up to Wolfsburg in the summer of 2010 at the age of 16. The youngster further refined his game at the Wolfe and quickly developed into one of the Bundesliga side’s most exciting prospects.
The Riesa-native’s superb development resulted in call-ups for Germany’s Under-17 and U-19 squads and then Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath promoted him to the first team, making Arnold the youngest debutant in the club’s history at the age of 17 years, six months and two days.
Nevertheless, the 2011-12 campaign would not be a particularly fortunate season for Arnold, as he would make just two official appearances, amounting to 37 minutes of game time. Consequently, he returned to the club’s U-19 side at the end of the season, where he would quickly rediscover his best form.
Arnold’s fine performances at youth level prompted new coach Dieter Hecking to reinstate him to the senior side in March 2013 – and the creative midfielder has not looked back since.
The youngster fit perfectly within Hecking’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, scoring three times in six Bundesliga appearances last term. His first goal came in the 2-2 draw against Hoffenheim, making him the club’s youngest ever goalscorer. This season, Arnold has continued to impress and he has so far netted six goals in 14 games.
He had already represented Germany at U-16, U-17, U-18, U-19 and U-20 level when he got a call-up for the Nationalelf‘s U-21 outfit last November and although it seems unlikely that Arnold will make Joachim Low’s senior squad for this summer’s World Cup, he does seem destined to represent the 1990 world champions at some point after the tournament in Brazil.
The attacking midfielder has already been likened to Mesut Ozil due to the similarities in their physique. However, Arnold is also blessed with a wand-like left foot, as well as superb technique, wonderful vision and remarkable close control.
Arnold might be slightly less comfortable in tight spaces than Ozil, but he makes more than up for it with his eye for a goal. The Wolfsburg ace often regularly cuts inside from the right wing before testing the goalkeeper with his left foot, a move that Borussia Dortmund star Marco Reus has perfected from the opposite flank.
Both Juventus and Arsenal have shown an interest in the 19-year-old, but Arnold’s immediate future appears to lie at Wolfsburg. The playmaker has a contract with the Bundesliga side until June 2017 and neither the Bianconeri nor the Gunners are planning to make a move this summer. However, it seems like it will only be a matter of time before Arnold arrives at one of Europe’s elite clubs.