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Scouting Europe: Jeremie Frimpong

Bayer Leverkusen have taken European football by storm.

Under Xabi Alonso’s stewardship, Bayer are yet to taste defeat in the Bundesliga this term and are on course to banish the anguish of near-misses in years gone by, inching ever-closer to their very first Meisterschale.

A key feature in Alonso’s innovative brand of attacking football is the contributions of his enterprising wing-backs.

On the left flank is the productive Alex Grimaldo, who has proven himself to be an unbelievable snip of business having joined from Benfica on a free transfer last summer.

On the right, and five years Grimaldo’s junior, is the exhilarating Jeremie Frimpong. The pair are contrasting in style but are equally effective, helping to mould Leverkusen into a formidable force.

A product of Manchester City’s academy, Frimpong’s game has soared to exceptional heights under Alonso and the 23-year-old is consistently wreaking havoc against defences with his exhausting speed and intricate control.

In the latest of our Scouting Europe series, we look at how Frimpong has evolved in Leverkusen’s relentless winning machine.


A career-defining move north

For those seeking insight on Frimpong’s character, you don’t need to look any further than the launch of his own foundation in January this year.

Familiar with the vast numbers of academy players that don’t turn professional and fall through the cracks, Frimpong’s “Pathways” foundation aims to provide a range of services for young individuals to help them in their next chapter.

Were it not for an offer from Celtic, Frimpong may have found himself in that situation.

Born in Amsterdam, his formative years were spent in the Manchester suburb of Openshaw and by the age of 10, he was on the books at Manchester City.

He started his youth career as a striker but as he progressed through the ranks at the Etihad Campus, Frimpong moved to right wing and then right-back.

At 18, Celtic snapped up him for £350k, with Frimpong signing a four-year contract. Despite initial apprehension – he told his driver and agent to turn the car around when travelling to Glasgow – the switch north of the border proved to be the making of him.

Neil Lennon was immediately impressed and within a month he’d won Man of the Match on his professional debut against Patrick Thistle in the Scottish League Cup. From there Frimpong went from strength to strength; even a sending off in the Old Firm couldn’t diminish Lennon’s affection for the Dutch ace.

Such form warranted the interest of Bayer Leverkusen and a fee of £11million was enough to acquire his services in January 2021.

Adapting to the Bundesliga

Frimpong arrived in the Rhineland with Leverkusen harbouring hopes of Champions League qualification after an impressive start to the campaign.

But a run of three from 14 league matches ultimately cost Peter Bosz his job, Hannes Wolf temporarily replaced him and there was a lack of continuity in the early months of Frimpong’s career at the BayArena.

Gerardo Seoane was appointed in the summer of 2021 and Frimpong made the right-back spot his own. Seoane preferred a 4-2-3-1 system, navigating away from an approach dominated by ball-retention and creating a Leverkusen outfit that were effective on transition.

It was a style that enabled Frimpong to demonstrate his ball-carrying capabilities, with only Alphonso Davies averaging more progressive carries in the Bundesliga from full-back.

Leverkusen finished the campaign in a comfortable 3rd and qualified for the Champions League. The consequence of that was expectation levels were subsequently raised and Seaone was dismissed in October 2022 after the Werkself suffered their eight defeat in 12 matches in all competitions.

Then Alonso arrived…

Jeremie has a very big impact on our game. Not only is he a very good player but for me, he is a special player.

Xabi Alonso, Bayer Leverkusen head coach

The Spaniard integrated a 3-4-3 model and Frimpong was deployed on the right flank. Gone were the days of being a disciplined full-back, the Dutch ace was set to revel in a wing-back role that enabled him to consistently contribute in attack.

Alonso recognised his explosive speed and dazzling agility would be a key method in Leverkusen’s chance and in his first match in charge, Frimpong scored twice with two timely runs that breached the Schalke defence; evidence of an end product that had been distinctly lacking during his time in Germany so far.

Five more goals and an impressive nine assists would follow in all competitions. Having been 17th at the time of Alonso’s appointment, Bayer eventually salvaged a 6th-place finish and foundations were in place for the remarkable season that’s followed.

Dynamic threat

A number of players have profited from Alonso’s tutelage but the development in Frimpong’s game is impressive.

Both he and Grimaldo have sent shockwaves around Europe with their contributions from a unique wing-back role, with Frimpong delivering double figures in both goals and assists for the season so far.

As stated in the introduction, Frimpong’s style differs from Grimaldo. Where the Portuguese talent aids Leverkusen’s cause with his vision and precision, Frimpong’s athleticism and frightening dribbling ability offers the team great variety in attack.

Where Grimaldo is a threat from set-pieces, Frimpong has created the second-most chances of any Leverkusen player from open play, behind midfield maestro Florian Wirtz.

The Netherlands international is encouraged to take on his man and he often beats the defender, races to the byline and produces a cutback from which his teammates can profit.

He is effectively a winger. That he’s had more touches in the opposition penalty area than any other player in the Bundesliga offers great insight into Alonso’s attacking demands for the 23-year-old.

Jeremie Frimpong: Bundesliga 2023/24

Carries into penalty area

58 (1st)

Progressive carries

128 (2nd)

Progressive passes received

276 (1st)

Touches in opposition box

176 (1st)

Successful take-ons

39 (9th)

Total sprints

813 (2nd)

He also ranks highly among ‘defenders’ for possession won in the attacking third, embracing Alonso’s counter-pressing principles with his relentless energy.

What can so often undermine a player of Frimpong’s attributes is their decisiveness but the wing-back is smart, bursting into the box with impeccable timing and untraceable movement.

And with Frimpong seeing an increase in the frequency of chances, he’s began to tidy up on his finishing. 11 goals so far this season is a reward for his improvement and yet the player himself will admit it’s an area of his game that he can still hone.

For the opposition, it’s a scary prospect if he does.

Bayer Leverkusen 2023/24 odds


To Win Outright - 1/33
Team to go Unbeaten - 13/8

DFB Pokal:

To Win Outright - 1/8

Europa League

To Win Outright - 7/2
To Reach Final - 11/8

Team Outright Wins

Bundesliga & DFB Pokal - 2/11
Bundesliga & Europa League - 7/2
DFB Pokal & Europa League - 7/2
Bundesliga, DFB Pokal & Europa League - 4/1

International recognition

Of Ghanaian descent, born in Amsterdam and having spent his adolescent years in England, Frimpong was eligible to play for three countries but pledged his allegiance to the Netherlands.

Included in Louis Van Gaal’s squad for the 2022 World Cup, the wing-back had to wait another 10 months before making his senior debut in a Euro 2024 qualifying fixture against France under Ronald Koeman.

Injury kept him out of the Netherlands’ Euro qualifiers against Ireland and Gibraltar, but Frimpong’s form for Leverkusen this term has made it nigh on impossible for him to be overlooked.

And with the European Championships on the horizon, Frimpong is expected to be a secret weapon in the Oranje’s armoury.

For a nation with such a rich football heritage, it’s remarkable that the Netherlands have failed to reach the final four of a European Championship since their run to the semi-finals in 2004.

The embarrassment of failing to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup preceded a disappointing last 16 exit against the Czech Republic at Euro 2020.

A quarter-final defeat to Argentina at the last World Cup was indicative of progress and with an array of exciting prospects among their ranks, not least Frimpong, there is hope that they can reach the latter stages of Euro 2024.

For Frimpong, it’s an opportunity to showcase his talent on the international stage. Koeman prefers a 4-3-3 system but there could be a temptation to unite Frimpong and Denzel Dumfries on the right flank, which has the potential to be a fruitful partnership.

A plethora of Europe’s elite clubs are already circling and if he were to impress in Germany during the summer, a big-money move may be inevitable.

Netherlands odds

Euro 2024:

To Win Outright - 16/1
Group D winner - 11/4
Group Qualification - 1/4

World Cup 2026:

To Win Outright - 16/1

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