He is potentially the biggest development success at Bayern since David Alaba made the leap many years ago, and perhaps the poster child of the type of developmental paths Bayern players should take: Adrian Fein.
The youngster moved to Bayern from 1860 in 2006 at the age of 8 and progressed through Bayern’s youth system all the way to the second team. After playing 33 games for FC Bayern II, he moved to SSV Jahn Regensburg on loan last season, where he immediately established himself as an important part of their midfield. Unfortunately, an injury in a friendly before the Rückrunde cost Fein most of the second half of the season.
Nonetheless, it was apparent that he was ready for another step up, and before this season he joined promotion contenders Hamburg. As in Regensburg, Fein has established himself as a key player at the base of Hamburg’s midfield, with the club currently 2nd in the table, 4 points behind Arminia Bielefeld.
On Wednesday, the fine people over at StatsBomb opened their request line on Twitter and posted the Radar and Final 3rd entries for Adrian Fein from their IQ Tactics service. The numbers seem to back what observes have been seeing on the pitch.
Adrian Fein (and Dandy), Hamburg 19-20.— StatsBomb (@StatsBomb) December 5, 2019
Radar and Final 3rd entries from IQ Tactics.
We are intrigued. pic.twitter.com/gHT7wgNk4C
Fein’s biggest strength seems to be his passing game. His ball progression, passing %, and xGBuildup numbers especially are all relatively strong for a midfielder, suggesting his ball distribution in midfield has been his calling card for Hamburg this season. His 8.67 deep progressions per 90 minutes (passes, dribbles, and carries into the final 3rd) compare well to Joshua Kimmich’s 7.64 from 2018/19, although Kimmich did it in the Bundesliga while spending most of the season at right-back, not in the central-defensive midfield. Fein also does’t turn the ball over much, with just 0.94 turnovers/90 minutes, which is important when occupying such a deep role in midfield.
Fein looks less impressive defensively than offensively. While he looks to be a decent tackler of the ball, his pressure and pressure-regain numbers are relatively low. This could be due to several things: his positioning could allow attacking players to come into pressing situations more easily higher up the pitch, or his less-than-ideal athletic abilities leave him just a bit too slow to challenge the opposition fast enough after the ball is lost.
Offensively, Fein’s final third entries are also intriguing, as they come in various forms. He’s as adept at overplaying defensive lines with short passes through the center as he is at sending long balls out wide to his wingers, something a single pivot in Bayern’s current 4-1-4-1 system needs to be able to do.
Fein’s development has been incredibly consistent and positive, but it’s important to stay realistic. The jump from Hamburg to Bayern is still a large one, and Fein will have to continue to improve if he aspires to make the grade at Bayern. A loan to a Bundesliga side next season is likely the right move for him to continue his development, although his contract at Bayern will need to be extended before he can be loaned out again. Currently, it is due to expire at the end of the 2020/21 season.
If football data and analytics are of interest to you, definitely check out StatsBomb.com. They do excellent work, and their articles and podcast provide great insights into the game both on and off the field. Full StatsBomb radar primers can be found here and here.