Who is Brajan Gruda? The Liverpool-linked sensation who terrified Bayern

Tom Weber
Tom Weber
  • 24 May 2024 13:27 BST
  • 6 min read
Brajan Gruda, Mainz, Germany

Brajan Gruda emerged as one of the breakout stars in the Bundesliga during the 2023/24 campaign.

Despite Mainz just barely avoiding relegation following a spectacular late-season run, Gruda earned himself plaudits even when his side looked dead and buried. A strong end to the term saw the youngster rewarded with a call-up to train with Germany ahead of Euro 2024.

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So, who is Mainz 05's Brajan Gruda and how good is he really?

What position does Gruda play in?

Gruda is a versatile, left-footed attacker, who is most comfortable on the right wing.

How good is Gruda?

A member of Mainz's youth system since 2018, the young attacker made his Bundesliga debut in 2022/23 at 18 years of age after impressing with the club's U19s. By the end of the season, he had a U19 Bundesliga winners medal around his neck and was duly rewarded with a permanent role in the first team.

Mainz had been a pretty exciting team under Bo Svensson, but the coach lost his magic touch during the 23/24 season and Jurgen Klopp's former club plummeted down the table, with the Dane eventually replaced by compatriot and namesake Bo Henriksen. However, while most of his teammates floundered, Gruda excelled at the senior level.

After scoring an absolute banger against Borussia Monchengladbach in early October 2023 - his first goal at the Bundesliga level - Gruda and Mainz came up against Bayern. Rather than capitulating, Mainz actually gave it a proper go and Gruda was right in the thick of it, terrifying the Bavarian defence with his rapid pace and insatiable attacking instinct and notching an assist - though his side were ultimately defeated.

The youngster plays with a youthful exuberance and nonchalance that makes him one of Germany's most intriguing talents - a fact also recognised by none other than Thomas Muller. After the game against Bayern, the German legend asked to swap shirts with Gruda and proudly showed off his trophy on Instagram, telling the youngster to keep working hard and the world that he is a baller.

A couple of fitness issues eventually disrupted the youngster's rhythm and momentum, but Gruda again notched an assist against Bayern in the return fixture, the only positive in what was otherwise a dark day for Mainz, who succumbed to an 8-1 defeat. Mainz eventually pulled off a minor miracle to save themselves from the drop and Gruda played a vital role in achieving this.

In his last six Bundesliga appearances of 23/24, the attacker notched three goals and an assist to help his side secure safety. Gruda ultimately ended the season with four goals and three assists to his name, not a spectacular return but enough to make people in the upper echelons of the game take note.

A tricky winger, Gruda is a difference-maker and not afraid to take people on, a skillset Germany is often missing due to the injury-proneness of players like Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry. With this in mind, national team boss Julian Nagelsmann called Gruda up to train with the senior squad ahead of Euro 2024. Barring an injury to a key player, it is unlikely that the youngster will be part of the tournament on home soil, but it shows that Nagelsmann rates the U21 international very highly indeed.

What clubs are interested in Gruda?

Gruda has several suitors in Germany and England. Bayern are said to be 'desperate' to sign the winger, while the likes of Liverpool, Aston Villa and Newcastle have also been credited with an interest.

When does Gruda's contract expire?

Gruda's contract runs until June 30, 2026.

How old is Gruda?

Gruda was born on May 21, 2004, making him 19 years old.

What is Gruda's Instagram?

Gruda's Instagram account is @grudabrajan and has 22k followers as of May 2024.

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