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What Went Wrong with Jann-Fiete Arp?

Jann-Fiete Arp
Foto: Getty Images

Born on 6 January 2000, Jann-Fiete Arp became the first-ever Bundesliga player born in this millennium to step foot on the pitch. Expectations were high when he made his senior debut for Hamburger SV on 30 September 2017, coming on in the last minute. Since then, the now 22-year-old German has fallen down from his high perch, from having the world at his feet to clambering the slippery slope back onto level ground

Having been involved in the Hamburger SV youth setup for the most part of 8 years and completing his Abitur before turning professional, he also became the first 2000’s Bundesliga player to score a goal in October 2017, netting against Hertha Berlin. He was also the 7th-youngest Bundesliga goalscorer at the time, and the youngest for his club. Continuing in the 2017/18 season, he scored one more goal before exams and injury disrupted the rückrunde, limiting him to 15 league appearances and two goals. Hamburg was eventually relegated for the first time in their history on the final matchday, with their victory against Borussia Mönchengladbach not enough to overturn Wolfsburg’s results elsewhere

Continuing in the 2. Bundesliga, Arp played a peripheral role in the squad, but FC Bayern had already agreed a future transfer, and it was followed through on 1 July 2019. Behind Robert Lewandowski, Arp played under Sebastian Hoeneß in the 3. Liga for the reserve team. Two injuries further displaced him from his development trajectory, first a scaphoid bone fracture treated via surgery, before another radial bone injury ruled him out for the remainder of the hinrunde. Upon his return, he was behind Kwasi Okyere Wriedt, Joshua Zirkzee, Leon Dajaku, and even several midfielders for the second team in selection in attack. Concluding a season without a single competitive appearance for the first team, he was permanently demoted to the second team for more playing time

Only recording 3 goals in a full season, he was again exiled from the starting XI in the reserves, with Lenn Jastremski and Armindo Sieb playing ahead of him. A return of 5 goals in his second season was disappointing, as the reserves were relegated into the Regionalliga Bayern after finishing in the bottom four. Joining Holstein Kiel on loan to revive his career, he initially started in attack, before being again pushed out reflecting his poor performances, as Benedikt Pichler and Kwasi Okyere Wriedt moved in front of him for selection and rewarded the squad as the top scorers

The lack of game time and exposure to high-intensity football has been a significant factor in the stagnation of Jann-Fiete Arp’s development, but a return of just 18 goals out of almost 120 appearances gives him a return of one goal every 7 or 8 matches, a significantly noticeable drop from most strikers. Even in the fourth division, he has struggled to pull his weight for the team, a far cry from when he burst onto the scene as a young prospecting teenager

Returning to Holstein Kiel on a permanent transfer, FC Bayern have finally cut off a burden to the squad, his high wages and alleged arrogance counterintuitive to his development. The 2. Bundesliga may still be a step too far for a player once thought to be Robert Lewandowski’s successor, and although there’s still time to revive the fire that once was, the light is dimming exponentially faster, each passing day without change

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