“A little bit like Toni Kroos”
The loan to Hamburg has not been Adrian Fein’s first. Before that, he played 21 games for Jahn Regensburg last season, where he was highly praised by then-coach Achim Beierlorzer, who is now at Mainz 05. Fein is an integral part of Hamburg’s starting eleven and was involved in five goals (1 goal, 4 assists) in 25 games as a defensive midfielder.
For the interview we talk to Lasse, who produces the podcast “Volksparkgeflüster” with three other Hamburg supporters. There, the three of them have been discussing all the issues surrounding the “Rothosen” every week since their relegation to the 2. Bundesliga in 2018.
Hi, Lasse! First of all, thank you for agreeing to talk to us today about Bayern loanee Adrian Fein. What were your first thoughts when the loan was announced last July?
Thank you very much for the invitation and “Moin” from the far north. Actually, I have to admit that despite his season at Regenburg, I had not heard of the player Adrian Fein before. In my defense, this might also have been because he had to play at center-back at Regenburg where he could not develop his full potential and did not particularly stand out as a player. After the loan deal with Hamburg was closed, I of course started to do some research, because I wanted to know more about the player who was about to join us. The general reports about him I read were very promising. A great talent at Bayern with a great vision and good technique, who even had played for the German youth national teams. My curiosity was definitely sparked and I was anxious to see him play.
To start with: How would you describe Adrian Fein? Which current or former Hamburg player does he resemble?
Actually, there have been only few players at Hamburg in recent years I can think of who are like Adrian Fein. I could only think of Orel Mangala and Milan Badelj, but they usually filled a slightly different role than him or saw themselves in a more offensive position. During our podcast recordings for the “Volksparkgeflüster” we often agree that Adrian Fein – as crazy and presumptuous as it may sound – reminds us heavily of Toni Kroos. My fellow podcaster Birger then often goes into raptures because Toni Kroos is his football man crush. But when you compare the two players, there are many parallels in their playing style. Strong on the ball, good technique and a great vision. Both can read the game and build up from the back with first rate passes. Furthermore, both have a good work ethic working backwards and intercept many passes.
Tobias Escher in a column for Spiegel Online called Fein: “The player that Hamburg has been missing for years.” Would you subscribe to this statement after one season? What role does he play in the team?
Absolutely! Due to his vision and the ability to read and direct a game from defensive midfield, Adrian Fein has made himself virtually indispensable for coach Dieter Hecking at present. If he is injured or has a bad day, it has a tangible impact on Hamburg’s game. He consistently delivers strong or very strong performances, sometimes even outstanding ones. Especially when he plays together with Jeremy Dudziak, who usually acts as a typical “box-to-box player”, the two harmonize marvellously. Of course, all this has to be seen in the context of the 2. Bundesliga.
Where do you currently see weaknesses in the game of the U21 international? Do you think he will be able to eradicate them the medium term?
You can clearly see that he still has problems if he is closed down aggressively and put under pressure during build-up play. As Hamburg is usually the favourite in a 2. Bundesliga game, opponents often choose to sit deep and try to disrupt our build-up play by taking on Fein with hard and sometimes unfair tackles. Since Fein rather suddenly became a regular player at the beginning of the season, his opposing players were often surprised by his playing strength at the beginning. In the meantime, however, many teams have deciphered Hamburg’s playing style and systematically try to take Fein out of the game. But of course to evade the constant barrage of tackles he has to face would be difficult for any player.
In response to this, since the beginning of the “Rückrunde” Dieter Hecking has ordered his team to sit a little bit deeper and let the opponent push up further before they try to win the ball back and hit the opponent on the break with a pass by chief distributor Fein. When he is back at Bayern, the quality of his teammates and coaches there should help him improve and work on his weaknesses even more effectively.
Due to injury, Fein missed the derby against St. Pauli. The 21-year-old said: “If it had been up to me, I probably would have given myself the all clear two weeks earlier already, I didn’t want to miss the derby against St. Pauli.” Do you as a fan like to hear that from a loan player? What does that say about his attitude towards the “stopover” Hamburg?
I would honestly not give this statement too much weight. Of course, Fein is keen to play every match. Besides, I don’t think any player would want to miss out on the Hamburg derby if he had the chance to take part in this classic contest. According to the media who have reported about the renewal of his contract with FC Bayern, Adrian Fein and his agent seem to have worked out a fairly precise career plan for him. To what extent their ambitions become reality is of course a different story.
Final question: Do you think that Fein is ready to take the step up to Bayern or would you still like to see him wearing Hamburg colors next season?
I do think that Adrian Fein is ready to join FC Bayern. As far as I know, FC Bayern wants to rejuvenate their squad. But it would be unrealistic to assume that he will become a first team regular straight away. Nevertheless he is an enormously talented player and his development could greatly benefit from working with even better coaches and players. By the same token, however, the higher level of quality in the squad also means that there is a danger that he will end up on the bench or even in the stands, just look at Fiete Arp. Therefore, the wisest thing for Bayern to do would be to loan him out for another year to Hamburg should they manage to get promoted and let him dip his toes into Bundesliga waters. Should we miss out on promotion, a loan to a first league team that guarantees him a place in the starting eleven would be a wise next move for him.
We thank Lasse very much for the informative talk and look forward to the developments in the case of Adrian Fein all the more eagerly in the summer.