Disappointed Faride Alidou, Knauff leaves the future open
IThe doors and gates were open for a moment in the Frankfurt stadium on the Bornheimer Hang. But Faride Alidou seemed to be looking for an imaginary key instead of using his premium opportunity to make it 1-0 for the German U-21 national team in the ninth minute of the game. And so the hesitant winger of Frankfurt Eintracht scored on Friday evening in the 2-2 in the test international match against Japan, in which the Berlin Herthan Jessic Ngankam with a penalty kick (40th minute) and the Cologne, former Offenbach midfielder Denis Huseinbasic (49th) scored the German goals scored, not into the goal net, only the side netting.
Antonio di Salvo, the coach of the second most important men’s selection of the German Football Association (DFB), did not spare critical words for Alidou’s failure of the day after the end of the game. “I think he was afraid to score. He has to work on himself there.” For the sensitive Hamburger, who has been trying to gain a foothold at Eintracht since this season, the whole evening was like an orienteering race between trial and error. And so the sensitive young professional may have come to the realization that his chances of being able to represent the defending champion at the European Championship finals in June and July in Georgia and Romania have at least not increased.
Inhibited and hesitant
The massive sprinter and dribbler seemed too inhibited and hesitant for that in the moments when he could have asserted himself. A pity. Because he always had the talent to make more of himself. And so Di Salvo is waiting like Eintracht head coach Oliver Glasner nor to that moment when it clicks for the junior who is looking for more stability and early maturity.
As of today, the young professional used by Di Salvo as a left winger, who also feels at home on the right in attack, can look back on a season in which he was far from the limelight he longed for. An often enough thrilling main actor at HSV, Alidou only has a supporting role at Eintracht with 128 minutes of play in the Bundesliga, 69 in the Champions League and 29 in the DFB Cup competition.
Di Salvo had put on two Frankfurt wing attackers in a duel with the strong playing and running Japanese, whereby the nomination of Ansgar Knauff, 21 years old like Alidou, came as no surprise. Born in Göttingen, he has been on loan at Eintracht since January 2022 and rose to shooting star status there during the triumphant 2021/22 Europa League season. He is part of the U-21 national team. Di Salvo gave him a “respectable performance”.
Even if the game of the left-wing attacking Lower Saxony was nothing spectacular this time, Knauff always seemed calm and able to fulfill his commuter mission between a stormy winger and creative midfielder with additional tasks in the offensive center. Knauff’s game intelligence has not suffered from the fact that after his lightning start at Eintracht with spectacular goals and dribbles this season, he was no longer regularly nominated for the Frankfurt starting XI. Injury breaks and the great competition on the offensive have contributed to the fact that he has only made twelve starts in his 18 first division appearances – a quota that Alidou can only dream of.
In the U21s, Knauff is the player with the highest market value (ten million euros) according to transfermarkt.de. Borussia Dortmund would like to bring him back after his loan to Frankfurt ends in 2024, just as Eintracht wants to sign him on. A win-win situation for Knauff, which the player did not want to comment on Friday. “I still have enough other things to do this season – both at the club and in the U21s.” Knauff can live with the fact that he is in demand at two top Bundesliga clubs and has also arrived close to the senior national team.
This week they trained squarely on the DFB campus next to the juniors with four players in the squad who last played for the U21s: Malick Thiaw, Felix Nmecha, Josha Vagnoman and Kevin Schade. Ansgar Knauff gave the “proximity to the senior national team a good feeling”. Especially when you look at the four promoted players from the U21s. “Their performances have earned them being there,” says Knauff about the colleagues who are being appraised by national coach Hansi Flick these days.
He also said what that means for him. “It gives me the motivation to give everything to achieve that at some point.” Top German football is characterized by the new permeability – a situation in which an instinctive football player like the precocious Ansgar Knauff senses his chance to continue his rise to the top to be able to Something that colleague Alidou can only dream of at the moment.