New arrival with the Red Stripe: Yannik Keitel

As the next new sig­ning for the upco­ming sea­son, VfB Stutt­gart intro­du­ces Yan­nick Kei­tel, who joins on a free trans­fer thanks to his expi­ring con­tract. For the defen­si­ve spe­cia­list, this marks the first club chan­ge in his pro­fes­sio­nal care­er.

The Freiburg Path

At just ele­ven years old, Kei­tel began trai­ning at the SC Frei­burg youth aca­de­my, which, accor­ding to Nik Staiger, focu­ses hea­vi­ly on both play­er deve­lo­p­ment and tac­tics. He pro­gres­sed through near­ly every youth team in Frei­burg, even­tual­ly beco­ming a youth inter­na­tio­nal. He also impres­sed Freiburg’s legen­da­ry coach, Chris­ti­an Streich, who hel­ped him make his pro­fes­sio­nal debut in an away game in Dort­mund in 2020. In April 2020, he signed a four-year con­tract, which expi­red this June and was not exten­ded despi­te efforts from SC Frei­burg. This was not a sur­pri­se, accor­ding to Nik Staiger, as the 24-year-old defen­si­ve mid­fiel­der lacked pro­s­pects at Frei­burg. The now club­less coach Streich had high demands for the defen­si­ve mid­field posi­ti­on, making it hard for Kei­tel to sur­pass the expe­ri­en­ced Höf­ler. Miss­ing about ele­ven games this sea­son due to inju­ries didn’t help the 15-time U‑21 natio­nal play­er eit­her.

A New Chapter

Now, for the first time, Kei­tel lea­ves Breis­gau and signs with VfB Stutt­gart until 2028. Despi­te his advan­ced age, Nik Staiger belie­ves Keitel’s poten­ti­al is not yet ful­ly rea­li­zed. “I have a high regard for Kei­tel and belie­ve that at 24 years old, his poten­ti­al deve­lo­p­ment is some­what lag­ging — the inju­ries have limi­t­ed his phy­si­cal capa­bi­li­ties, while he has deve­lo­ped signi­fi­cant­ly men­tal­ly. He is very matu­re, making him an incre­di­bly exci­ting talent,” said the free­lan­ce jour­na­list who works for, among others, Badi­sche Zei­tung and

Strengths and Weaknesses

So what can VfB fans expect? An aggres­si­ve lea­der like Ata or a vir­tuo­so on the ball like Stil­ler? More the lat­ter, says Nik, but he also belie­ves Kei­tel has lea­der­ship poten­ti­al. Kei­tel cap­tai­ned the U‑21 natio­nal team for two years and also led the SC Frei­burg youth teams. He is skil­led with the ball at his feet, his pas­sing is accu­ra­te, and his ran­ge of pas­sing is exten­si­ve. Howe­ver, he also stands out for his tack­ling strength and ball reten­ti­on. On the down­si­de, Nik sees his phy­si­cal­i­ty as a weak­ne­ss. While he is strong in the air, which is less cri­ti­cal for a team like VfB that plays a ground game, he lacks speed and agi­li­ty, which nega­tively impacts his abili­ty to inter­cept pas­ses and cover depth. Addi­tio­nal­ly, his cros­ses are not par­ti­cu­lar­ly pre­cise. As a play­er, he is more of a hol­ding mid­fiel­der, pre­fer­ring to stay back and find spaces for for­ward moves rather than pushing into the penal­ty area.

Even taking into con­side­ra­ti­on that com­pa­res him to cent­re back, his strengths show in this com­pa­ri­son:


With Kei­tel, we have secu­red an exci­ting back­up play­er for Stil­ler, who still has con­sidera­ble poten­ti­al. Frei­burg fans are sad about his depar­tu­re but wish him well in his new envi­ron­ment and the Cham­pi­ons League. In this spi­rit, wel­co­me, Yan­nick!

Pic­tu­re: © Mat­thi­as Hangst/Getty Images

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