Kevin Kampl is a well-rounded midfielder with an array of positive qualities, and with a much less hefty price tags than other midfielders who have been on the move this summer, he may turn out to be a bargain if a club is willing to take a risk on him.
When Kevin Kampl in June confirmed that he would leave Bayer Leverkusen, mainly because of his dissatisfaction with the board’s decision to sack Roger Schmidt, most of us thought that it would be a fight between the top European clubs to convince him to sign for their team. But more than one month has passed and the Slovenian international is still a part of the German club located in the Ruhr area of Germany.
Last year’s season can easiest be described as a failure for Bayer Leverkusen. They finished in twelfth place, only four points off of relegation play-off. But despite Leverkusen’s weak results there were a few glimpses of delight, the biggest of them all was Kevin Kampl. He shook many teams with his intense style of play, and he displayed some of his best performances in the biggest games, such as against Atletico Madrid, Monaco and Tottenham Hotspur.
The way toward the top hasn’t always been straightforward for the German-Slovenian, however. Born in the German city Solingen in 1990 by Slovenian parents, located only a few kilometers from Leverkusen, he started his footballing journey at the local club, VfB Solingen. It didn’t take long until his talent shone through, and when he was seven years old he made the move to the giants of the area, Bayer Leverkusen. At Leverkusen he advanced through the youth ranks and all the way up to the first team, though without getting a real shot in the starting line-up.
A twenty-year-old Kampl went on loan to Greuter Furth in 2. Bundesliga to gain experience, and he returned back home one season later with more minutes at Greuter Furth’s reserves than the first team. Leverkusen wasn’t impressed and let him leave on a permanent note in 2011 for the 3. Bundesliga club, VfL Osnabruck. One impressive season in the third division was enough to make a team one division above interested. VfR Aalen bought Kampl in 2012 with the hopes that he would be their main man for the upcoming season, but Red Bull Salzburg thought differently.
Two goals and three assists in the first four games for Aalen was enough for Salzburg to activate Kampl’s release clause and tie him up. On the last day of the transfer window they were able to seal the deal and Kampl was officially a Red Bull Salzburg player, only one month after his arrival at Aalen.
It didn’t take long until Kampl became one of Salzburg’s most influential players, and he led his team to both the domestic cup and the league title during the course of his two years or so with the club. His success in Salzburg gave echo in European football, which led to a transfer to Borussia Dortmund. But his spell at Dortmund didn’t turn out as expected, and he left the club only six months into his five-year contract.
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He eventually ended up rejoining his childhood club Bayer Leverkusen, who at the time was under the direction of Kampl’s coach from his time in Salzburg, Roger Schmidt. Schmidt knew Kampl well and knew exactly how to get Kampl back to his best. The cooperation between the two worked perfectly and Kampl was once again an influential and important player in a Schmidt-managed team. Their first season together at Leverkusen was a success and they finished in third place in Bundesliga.
As earlier mentioned, last season wasn’t the best for the team from Leverkusen and that eventually led to the resignation of Roger Schmidt, something that hit Kevin Kampl hard: ”I will definitely leave Leverkusen. That’s a fact. That thing with Roger injured me, it left traces,” Kampl told Kicker after the season.
At the third of July this year Roger Schmidt was unveiled as the new coach of the Chinese team, Beijing Guoan. Rumours immediately started surrounding Kampl and hinting at a possible reunion in the Chinese capital. Leverkusen’s director of sports, Rudi Völler, denied those rumours and told the press that the alleged transfer had fallen through and that Kampl still was a Leverkusen player.
Beyond the rumours about a possible move to China, there has also been loose talk about Milan and Arsenal being interested in Kampl’s services. Both teams could use reinforcements at their midfield, Arsenal in particular. Their playmaker in the middle, Granit Xhaka, is in need of a quality player who can accompany him. A player like Xhaka is utilised to the max when he has a hard working box-to-box midfielder who covers a lot of space in both directions to cover for his own limited ability to do the same.
Undersigned consider Kampl as the optimal player to play alongside Xhaka since he fits the profile perfectly. Kampl’s style of play can easiest be described as constantly in motion. Regardless of when you choose to cast an eye on Kampl you can be sure that he will be in motion. It doesn’t matter if Kampl is on the ball or not, you will see him make a move.
He tracks back, carries the ball in attacks, makes forward runs through the opponents’ defensive lines, and he likes to challenge this opponents in one-on-one situations. Proof of Kampl’s constant enthusiasm and high work rate are the numbers that show us that Kampl is number one in interceptions in the final third during the last two seasons in Bundesliga. In addition to a high work rate, Kampl possesses a technical ability and unpredictability that’s better than most of the box-to-box midfielders on this planet. He is, in short, a box-to-box midfielder with great offensive qualities, a dream for most coaches out there.
Regardless of what team Kampl represents when the season starts in August, he will be a huge asset, whether it’s Leverkusen, Arsenal or someone else. He will be a bargain for the big teams since his price tag is far from the astronomical fees other players of his quality move for. Fact is that you won’t get more of your money’s worth than in a buy of Kevin Kampl, one of Europe’s most underrated midfielders.