During the international break, VfB Stuttgart added to the transfer market and signed ex-BVB professional Dan-Axel Zagadou. The agreement comes as a surprise and harbors both opportunities and risks for the Swabians.
“Dan-Axel Zagadou is coming to VfB”: With this title, VfB Stuttgart surrounded the sports director Sven Mislintat, who brought Zagadou to the Bundesliga in his Dortmund, surprising his fans. A good 3 weeks after closing the summer transfer window, the Swabians looked to strengthen their existing squad to remedy a poor start to the season with five draws and two defeats after the international break.
“With his signing, we can fill the void in the defense with an excellent player. We are very happy that Daxo chose us and warmly welcome him to VfB,” Mislintat was quoted as saying on the club’s website.
Zagadou recently without a club – VfB change came as a surprise
The deal is possible as Zagadou has been without a club since July 1, allowing the club to sign a centre-back after the official transfer window. However, it is not necessarily expected that the former BVB professional will end up at VfB. In recent times, there have been activities abroad. Zagadou has always been associated with ambitious clubs from France and England.
In the end, surprisingly, it was VfB Stuttgart, which was in the relegation zone, meaning the 23-year-old will continue to play in the Bundesliga for years to come. His contract with the Swabians runs until 2026.
Zagadou with VfB: opportunities and risks at the same time
But is Zagadou really part of the puzzle that the Swabians, who are still winless, are missing this season? Will France turn the tide and leave the relegation zone?
At first glance, signing Zagadou looks like a coup. After all, the Frenchman played for Borussia Dortmund, gained international experience and brought a certain name with him. For a while he was considered one of the biggest defensive talents in Europe, enjoyed training at PSG’s youth academy and had a market value of €28.8 million as of October 2020*. However, looking at the defendant’s past also shows a risk that cannot be ignored.
Advantage: Sports quality and short adjustment time
In terms of opportunities, there is the first of Zagadou’s personal characteristics. At 23 years old, the Frenchman is still young, so he still has a lot of development potential. However, the French have more experience. Five years at BVB with high training quality allowed the central defender to last. He also played with Dortmund in the Champions League against high-quality teams and opponents – an experience that many of his new teammates at VfB have yet to have. With the Swabians he could continue to become a top player and stabilize Stuttgart’s defense.
Bundesliga season 2022/23
- Start: August 5 – 7, 2022
- Opening game: Intrigue Frankfurt – FC Bayern Munich
- Final 2022: November 11-13
- FIFA World Cup: November 21 – December 18, 2022
- First match 2023: January 20-22
- Date 34: May 27, 2023
- Defending champions: FC Bayern Munich
- Newcomers: FC Schalke 04, SV Werder Bremen
His resume so far includes 67 Bundesliga games and 15 games** in the top flight. Solid numbers for a 23 year old. Only nine yellow cards ** in those games show that Zagadou knows how to act intelligently in the back chain. The French know how to impress in terms of tackle strength, head play and overall picture.
Zagadou knows the Bundesliga and the language
Now it’s a matter of getting to VfB quickly: “The season has started, I have to get used to the process quickly to be able to play, I will do everything I can to get as close to the team as soon as possible,” said the Frenchman. But he should be able to take this step quickly. Because of his last five years at BVB, Zagadou knows the Bundesliga well on the one hand and there is almost no language barrier, because the French is fluent in German.
But there are still some French-speaking teammates at VfB, which should ensure a quicker adjustment. “Thanks to my five years at BVB I can speak German, but of course it helps me a lot if I can communicate with a few guys in French.” These include Tanguy Coulibaly, Enzo Millot and Naouirou Ahamada.
Zagadou’s sensitivity to vulnerable injuries
Sporting and within the team, the transfer of Zagadou makes perfect sense for VfB Stuttgart. But there is still a risk that the commitment of the French exists.
These are obvious when you look at Zagadou’s figures – key word: susceptibility to injury. Numerous muscle and knee injuries from his time at BVB can be found in the medical records. In five years with Borussia, Zagadou missed 83 games due to injury alone – roughly 17 games a year**.
Of course, that does not mean that the French is still followed by bad luck with injuries in Swabia, but the risk is more likely for Zagadou than for other players because of his weakness. However, medical examination gives the most positive prognosis. In addition, those in charge at VfB believe that they can control the load properly. Currently, the injury problem is not one of Swabia.
Can Zagadou fight for liberation?
There is another risk factor: the fight to be fired.
While Zagadou has played in the Champions League in Dortmund, his commitment at VfB should mostly be related to relegation, at least in the current season. Many protagonists in the football business have already emphasized that there is a completely different, special pressure that prevails in the fight for the survival of the sport. Zagadou does not (yet) know this. The question is how long the French will get used to or accept this situation. Because only then he will be a real reinforcement for VfB.
However, his athletic quality leads to the conclusion that Zagadou can still cope with events in the lower regions of the table during the season and then will be an important pillar for the Swabians in the latest.
VfB’s Zagadou deal has many aspects and one or two open questions. But all, Stuttgart and Mislintat can be happy with this transfer. After all aspects are weighed up, it’s more of an opportunity than a risk.
*Source: Football Benchmark
** Source: transfermarkt.de
More about the author Udo Hutflötz
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