The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Matthias Ginter's season is "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", his performances in the two halves of the season were so different that they can only be described using the classic novel of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Ginter, once a prodigy coming out of the reputable youth academy of SC Freiburg, was the heir apparent of either Hummels or Subotic. Now one of them is gone (ugh) and the other one seems to be on his way out. Even though it seems that now would be Ginter's time in the limelight, he is rarely mentioned as a possible replacement for either of the two. At best he's considered a fill-in in case of an emergency rather than a full member of the heart of the defense. So the question is, does Matthias Ginter actually have a future with the club?
The first half of the season. Ginter played a fantastic Hinrunde as a right back. Early on in his coaching duties at BVB Thomas Tuchel faced a difficult situation, designated right-back Lukasz Piszczek picked up an injury with no apparent replacement in the squad, Kevin Großkreutz was gone and Erik Durm was injured himself. A difficult choice presented itself to our newly appointed coach: either go with the young and talented yet inexperienced Pascal Stenzel or try out someone on the current roster. Stenzel was certainly an option but the learning curve would prove to be too steep for him, he's currently loaned-out to Freiburg where he enjoys great success.
Since other options failed at the beginning of the season (remember the Castro-debacle) the choice fell on Matthias Ginter and he delivered. Ginter blossomed as a right-back and it seemed like the young talented German had finally found his place in the BVB-squad. In the first half of the season he participated in 23 games across all competitions with most of them being the starter at right-back. During that time he accumulated 3 goals and 10 assists, those are impressive stats for a defensive player. His exploits on offense were impressive and somewhat unexpected from a player that until then was said to have his strengths on defense. Quite often he embarked on courageous runs up the field showing good chemistry with either Reus or Mkhitaryan and often fielding good crosses that lead to dangerous situations or in the best of cases to a goal.
The right-back situation was not just a precarious one for BVB but since Phlipp Lahms retirement from international play it became a problem for "Die Mannschaft" in general, it is a testament to Ginters strong performances in the "Hinrunde" that he was seen for a brief moment as the solution to the German National teams problems at that position.
The highlights of Ginter's season certainly have to be his performances against Schalke 04, in both of those games he had a case for being "Man of The Match" with 2 goals and 1 assist in both encounters with the hated rivals from 04.
The second half of the season.
Ginter's Rückrunde was a stark contrast to the first half of the season. After the usual break during the holiday season in the Bundesliga, Piszczek came back and immediately replaced Ginter as the starting right-back. The young German fell more and more out of favor with coach Tuchel and was mostly used as a rotation player that filled in when others needed a break. The designated right-back of the first half of the season didn't even get to compete for his spot because he had to practice as a defensive midfielder.
He amassed 17 appearances across all competitions which isn't bad but he rarely stood out in any of those games contrary to his previous accomplishments as the starting right-back. Constantly having to adapt to new positions certainly didn't help matters as he saw himself being lined-up as a right-back, defensive midfielder and center-back.
Should we keep him or not? Does he want to stay here? Does he have a long-term future with the club? Matthias Ginter is the topic of a lot of discussions among BVB-supporters.
It is tough to predict how his situation will evolve going forward. Several outlets report that it is likely he'll leave the club in the summer, mentioning the lack of perspective and his inability to form an identity at the club as the main reasons for an exit. On the other hand club officials and Ginter himself have been mum on the future of the 22-year old player who's contract runs through the 2019 season. Maybe there's even a glimmer of hope for him at the position he was always intended to play after he had a solid game at center-back against Stuttgart in the Bundesliga.
What do you think? Should we keep the versatile defender? Is he the future at right-back or even Hummels replacement as our center-back?