Undervalued Premier League Talents: Pascal Groß

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Summer 2022 looks set to be one of the most fascinating transfer windows in recent memory, with many clubs finally willing to splash the cash after a rough couple of years with COVID. Not only that, but several big stars are set to become free agents, and many of Europe’s most dominant figures remain hungry for a move. It’s these moves that have, inevitably, taken the bulk of the media’s attention. But for every Sadio Mane, Antonio Rudiger and Robert Lewandowski who may be on the move this summer, there are also several lesser talked about players who could be made available for cheap. We’ve already seen Aston Villa striking for gold in identifying Boubacar Kamara and Diego Carlos as under the radar signings to improve their ranks, but others remain on the market.

So with that, we analyze some of the very best Premier League stars who remain undervalued gems worthy of greater attention this summer. In this article, it’s all about Brighton & Hove Albion’s Pascal Groß.

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An unsung hero in Graham Potter’s side, Pascal Groß has been a key cog for Brighton over the past few seasons in a number of different roles. From central midfield to right-wing-back, Pascal Groß has completely adapted his game from a play-making attacking midfielder to a tempo setting orchestrator with poise and class wherever he’s deployed. He’s surmounted 169 appearances since entering the door prior to Brighton’s first ever season in the league, and hasn’t looked back since. But now at the age of 30, with his five year spell at the Amex now coming to the end of its contract, many clubs should be keeping tabs on the versatile midfielder.

While Potter favours a high-pressing intensity and energetic verve right from the front of his defense, Groß stands out for his ability on the ball. His shot creating actions (3.97), key passing (2.59) and xA numbers (0.20 per 90) are head and shoulders above the rest of his teammates, making him an integral playmaker at the heart of Potter’s midfield. Aging like fine wine, Pascal Groß also accumulated the highest passing percentage of his career in 2021-22 (82.8%), partially showcasing how his role has changed over the years. Sometimes criticized for lacking the same engine and gusto as the rest of the team, the 30-year-old also fares well in blocked shots and blocked passes, correctly understanding his role in shuffling with the play and stunting the opposition’s central penetration.

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According to those stats, it’s difficult to pinpoint why Potter and his staff wouldn’t attempt to secure a renewal for a player who has served the club so well over the past five years. From his performances on the pitch, everything still points towards Brighton negotiating a new deal. He takes set-pieces, regularly creates chances for his teammates, and fulfills a number of different roles in any given match. He can play centrally, wide and in the half-spaces, and his ability to pull the strings and dictate the play are integral to the movement of Brighton’s front three.

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So that begs the question, why are they so reluctant to offer him new terms? Well, despite being a hard-working professional, the German midfielder isn’t the most valuable asset to the side. Potter’s team pride themselves on their counter-pressing and high intensity defending, and Groß isn’t always the most energetic, mobile or successful when it comes to the defensive side of the game. Further, while his xA and chance-creating numbers are impressive, he managed just 6 goal contributions in the league this season, in 29 appearances. At the age of 30 (soon to be 31), he could easily go back to Germany, but all Premier League clubs of a certain level should be keen on securing his signature, even if on the basis of a short-term deal. So with that, here are three possible destinations for Pascal Groß if he is to make a move way from the Amex this summer.

Newcastle United

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It may seem surprising that with the unlimited money at Eddie Howe‘s disposal, Newcastle would even consider making a move for the veteran German. However, due to the financial fair play rules (that most teams loophole anyway) there could be valid reason for them to claim Pascal Groß on a free. In terms of filling gaps, Newcastle are without a real playmaker in the side. Allan St. Maximin is a different kind of play-maker – the type to create magic with his nifty footwork and nightmarish dribbling, rather than threading passes through. A player like Callum Wilson would thrive under Groß’s eye for a pass and ability to find holes in an opposition defense. They have just about every other type of midfielder they could want in their squad right now, but Groß’s versatility and play-making abilities would provide an excellent amount of quality to Eddie Howe’s team.

Union Berlin

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If not Newcastle or Brighton, then perhaps a return to the Bundesliga would be a strong option for the German. Union Berlin would be one such option, heading into the Europa League after a fifth place finish in 2021-22. With the potential for two fixtures a week, Urs Fischer’s side will need to add depth to their squad and prepare to last longer in their European expedition than last time out. Similarly to Brighton, Union play in a 3-5-2 formation that favours pressing and compact defending. But like Newcastle, they don’t have that pocket-picking through-ball passing midfielder that can generate greater options in their quick attacking transitions and verticality toward the centre-forwards.

Their transcendence into more of a 3-1-4-2 in attack offers the opportunity for Groß to take up one of the more advanced midfield positions, and push Sheraldo Becker into attack more regularly in 2022-23. From Union’s perspective, the benefits are crystal clear. Despite finishing 5th in the Bundesliga this season, Union were unable to create as many chances as they would’ve hoped. They were 14th in shot-creating actions, and 13th in both passes into the final third and key passes. This shows a significant gap in their ability to create chances through progressive and creative passing, relying instead on breaking lines through dribbling and carrying, and emphasizing width and crossing from their wing-backs. Groß could easily amend their progressive passing and chance creation in the final third, adding an extra unpredictable element to their play. He could also provide a useful back-up at right-wing-back, with captain-fantastic Christopher Trimmel now 35-years-old. At first glance, Groß may not entirely fit Urs Fischer’s over-arching style of play, but he would certainly add a unique edge to Union Berlin’s ranks next season.

Mainz 05

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Mainz 05 would provide another excellent option for Pascal Groß, as Bo Svensson has also been building one of the best 3-5-2 systems in the league. Anton Stach has performed admirably at the heart of the midfield three, but reinforcements could be provided in either slot alongside him. Playing with intensity, quick attacking transitions, and a high-pressing mentality, Mainz’s shortcomings in the past few seasons have been creating chances and scoring goals. Jonathan Burkhardt stepped up to the plate this season with 11 in the league, whilst Karim Onisiwo created 8 assists alongside him. But reinforcements could still be required below the pairing to get the best out of their impressive ability to receive progressive passes and run beyond an opposition defense. Onisiwo in particular mustered up just 5 goals last season despite all of his exceptionalities, where the addition of Groß could allow the Austrian more freedom to break forward and extend his goal tally. He’d also balance Anton Stach’s ability to go box-to-box when not deployed as a number six, or be the one driving the team on and pull the strings from deep.

While Brighton may be the likeliest of destinations for Groß again in 2022-23, a return to the Bundesliga would be invigorating for the German, and a chance to earn the respect he deserves.

So there it is! Why Pascal Groß remains one of the most undervalued and underrated talents available for cheap in the transfer market this summer. Be sure to comment below if there’s a player you’d like to see analyzed next, and don’t forget to follow on social media @mastermindsite to never miss an update. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

– Written by Charlie Ellis & Rhys Desmond.

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