David Wagner’s post-match comments at Bury confirmed that Town would be looking to add to his squad before the transfer window closes. We didn’t have to wait long for Town’s seventh signing of the summer to be confirmed.
Following plenty of media speculation, Huddersfield Town confirmed this evening that Erik Durm would be joining the West Yorkshire club from German giants Borussia Dortmund on a one-year deal.
This piece looks to offer an insight into who Erik Durm is, where his strengths and weaknesses lie and what we should expect from him.
Who is Erik Durm?
The younger years
Born in the town of Pirmasens, Erik Durm’s early years were forged in the small German town which overlooked the Parc Naturel Régional des Vosges du Nord on the French border.
It was here where Erik Durm began his journey to become a German international and a World Cup winner.
At just the age of five in 1998, Durm joined the academy of SG Rieschweiler. It was this Rhineland-
Following a ten-year spell with SG Rieschweiler, at the age of sixteen Erik Durm made the switch to Regionalliga Sudwest side, FC Saarbrücken.
Originally plying his trade as a centre-forward, Durm’s performances for FC Saarbrücken quickly garnered attention and the bright young German was gathering suitors from across Germany.
With a vast array of suitors, Durm opted to join the Academy of FSV Mainz 05. As part of the 2010–11 German Youth Federation Cup winning side, Durm began to forge a name for himself amongst the higher echelons of German football.
After another impressive season which featured a string of stand-out performances for FSV Mainz 05 II, Durm was confronted by the choice of either signing a professional contract with FSV Mainz 05 or joining Borussia Dortmund.
He opted for the latter.
Borussia Dortmund II- The Wagner Effect
Having chosen to join Borussia Dortmund, Durm’s Dortmund career began in a Borussia Dortmund II side, managed by David Wagner.
Almost immediately, the relationship between the two blossomed and it became a crucial period of the young German’s development and more broadly, his career.
Up until this point, for SG Rieschweiler, FC Saarbrücken and FSV Mainz 05, Erik Durm had principally played either as a centre-forward or as a second striker.
This was also the case with David Wagner, to begin with.
Whilst Durm’s talent and footballing ability were unquestionable, there was an air of mystery surrounding what his most natural position was.
It took a turbulent season of experimentation which saw Erik Durm drop deeper as he was utilised by David Wagner in a wide midfield role before eventually, Wagner elected to play him as a forward-thinking full-back.
This was the specific point, if any, that played the major role in shaping Eric Durm’s future.
Induction into the first team
Re-born as a forward-thinking full-back, Erik Durm quickly caught the attention of Jurgen Klopp. This led to Durm’s induction into Borussia Dortmund’s first team squad for the 2013–14 season.
Over the course of the next four seasons, Durm contributed towards the German side’s successes in the DFB-Pokal and twice in the DFL-Supercup.
In total, Durm amassed sixty-four appearances for the German giants which saw him feature regularly in Europe, both in the Champions League and the Europa League.
That number would be far greater if it wasn’t for a series of minor and major injuries which derailed his Borussia Dortmund career.
Shortly after returning from a hip operation which saw Durm sidelined for just over five months, Durm’s bad luck was compounded as he tore ankle ligaments in training which led to him being sidelined for the remainder of last season.
It would inadvertently be the end of Erik Durm’s career as it quickly became apparent that he would be reunited with David Wagner once more, only this time, it would be in the Premier League with Huddersfield Town.
International career to date
Having emerged as a hot prospect at FSV Mainz II, quickly Erik Durm received international accreditation as Germany’s then U-19 coach Christian Ziege recognised the young German’s potential and called him up to the youth national side.
Featuring alongside a number of emerging stars who would go on to become household names including Shkodran Mustafi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Antonio Rudiger, Erik Durm impressed.
After just two U-19 international friendlies, Germany’s U-20 manager Frank Wormuth called the 19-year-old defender up for the November U-20 international fixture against Poland.
However, that would be Erik Durm’s last taste of international football for a period that spanned over two years.
It was Erik Durm’s rise to stardom which saw the German full-back promoted to Borussia Dortmund’s first team squad and called up by Horst Hrubesch to the German Under-21 side for a series of international friendlies and Euro Under-21 Championship qualification fixtures.
Having risen through the international youth ranks, finally, Erik Durm earned a well-deserved senior call up by Joachim Löw to the German national side.
Despite only featuring in four European Qualifiers against Scotland, Gibraltar, Poland and the Republic of Ireland as well as three international friendlies, Durm had shown enough to earn a spot in Joachim Löw’s squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
With Benedikt Höwedes being played as an unorthodox full-back by Löw, that meant that Eric Durm did not feature at the 2014 World Cup finals. However, that did not stop a young boy from Pirmasens achieving the unlikely goal of becoming a world champion.
Following the news that Huddersfield Town had confirmed the signing of Erik Durm, I spoke to Stefan Buczko of the Yellow Wall podcast to get a deeper insight into who Erik Durm is, specifically what his strength and weaknesses are:
“His main strength is his stamina, I would say. Can cover a lot of space in a game, makes it fluent and is able to cover various positions on the wing and fullback”.
“Thomas Tuchel used him a lot because he is a player that can execute tactical patterns very well. His first touch is a bit questionable, he doesn’t have any pressing resistance and is a bit hit and miss when on the ball”.
I don’t know in what form he is in given that I’ve hardly see him play in the past two years”.
Will he be a success at Town?
Like many of David Wagner’s signings, there is an element of risk, in a sense this signing is no different.
However, unlike other signings that have been made over the past twenty-four months, we already know the pedigree of Eric Durm and the quality that he will bring to this Town side.
The element of risk unsurprisingly is his fitness, with the question being can he sustain his fitness and steer clear of additional injuries for a prolonged period of time?
It is a question that has now hung over the head of the talented German for the good part of five seasons.
However, despite being fit since the end of last season, Durm has fallen out of favour at Borussia Dortmund and that has presented an opportunity.
An opportunity which in other circumstances would have been well beyond Huddersfield Town, even with the appeal of the Premier League and the lure of David Wagner.
An opportunity to bring a World Cup winner on board, a player with vast experience at the top level and one who is well-drilled when it comes to following tactical plans and importantly, one who already understands David Wagner’s philosophy and what will be asked of him.
As well as having already established a relationship with David Wagner, in footballing terms, Erik Durm brings versatility – versatility to play either in a more advanced wing-back role as part of a variation of the 5-2-2-1 or as an orthodox full-back in a 4-2-3-1. Durm also brings the versatility to play as a right-sided defender too.
The other major attribute that Erik Durm brings to the table is his stamina and work-rate to bomb up and down the left-hand flank either in an attacking sense or to recover defensively.
The main component of this is his hunger – a hunger for Erik Durm to prove all of those who doubted him or questioned whether he would be able to return to the top level after the numerous injuries that have plagued his recent career.
However, if David Wagner taps into the hunger and brings it to the fore, the signing of Erik Durm could prove to be the coup that it looks to be on paper.
My final thought is a simple one. David Wagner very quickly identified that the left-back position was the weak link in what was a relatively solid defensive platform with which our Premier League survival was built upon.
The signing of Erik Durm with the competition that Chris Löwe will bring has seen the left-back position which was a position of weakness become one of strength and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how Erik Durm will perform now that he has been reunited with David Wagner.