Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis confirmed Eljif Elmas’ departure, stating, “We have finalized Elmas’ transfer – his hunger for playtime led to our decision to let him go.” RB Leipzig will secure Elmas’ services in the upcoming winter for a fee of €25 million rising to nearly €30 million with add-ons, a deal benefiting all parties involved. Since arriving from Fenerbahçe at just 19 in 2019, Elmas has been a crucial component of Napoli’s squad.
If ‘versatile’ was a player, it would be Eljif Elmas. Over his four and a half years at Napoli, the North Macedonian played in seven different positions, every midfield role, wingback, out-and-out winger, and even spearheading Napoli’s attack as the striker in a pivotal Champions League quarterfinal. His exceptional skill set and even more impressive engine allowed him to excel no matter where he is playing on the pitch. Perhaps this fuelled his ambition for a fresh challenge.
Because of his versatility, he never really secured a starting role at the club. Often the first substitute, his ability to affect the game in many ways from anywhere on the pitch made him a valuable asset for Napoli, who would have preferred to retain him. Yet, his desire for more playing time and a secure starting position at Leipzig is understandable, presenting an ideal opportunity for him.
Beyond being a versatile player, Eljif Elmas embodies the qualities of a team’s creative nucleus. His dynamic dribbling, brilliant first touch, and precision in the final third make him a potent force. Although Elmas is primarily a creative player, he also contributed some very important goals for Napoli in their title-winning campaign last season.
RB Leipzig is an exciting team with a strong possession-based, dynamic attacking style. They are among the top teams in goal scoring, least goals conceded and big chances created in the league. Leipzig also maintains possession at 57.8% on average, which is perfect for Elmas who grows the more touches he has.
Elmas’ greatest asset lies in his directness and ability to beat defenders with ease, traits that align seamlessly with a team like Leipzig, especially in a league as fast-paced and open as the Bundesliga. His suitability for both the team and league suggests a seamless transition, meaning he can be a significant player for Leipzig for years to come.
After a legendary nine-year run that saw him score 71 goals and 68 assists in 325 appearances, Emil Forsberg will depart Leipzig in January for the New York Red Bulls. Elmas certainly has big shoes to fill as he looks to replace the Swedish playmaker, but at 24, he’s more than capable of providing versatility and attacking output to a Leipzig squad that is looking to go deep in the UEFA Champions League and finish in the Bundesliga’s top four for a sixth straight season.
By: Mohamed Salad / @MohamedASalad
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Emilio Andreoli / Getty Images