By Ultan Corcoran@UltanCorcoran

Bundesliga End of Season Awards: 1.FC Köln's Player of the Season

With 6 votes from our team of 9 writers, 1.FC Köln’s Julian Chabot picks up the Player of the Season award for the club from Germany’s Cathedral City.

As the Bundesliga season crept towards is conclusion, the seemingly inevitable relegation of 1.FC Köln was confirmed on the final day of the season. Chances of survival were slim to start, but Heidenheim’s thrashing of the Cathedral City club hammered home reality. With a transfer embargo further adding to their struggles, Matchday 15 marked the last time Köln sat clear of the relegation positions in the domestic table. 

With the 5th youngest average squad age of 25.3 years according to Transfermarkt.com, Die Geissbocke required young, less experienced personnel to step up to the plate and one individual stood above others in that regard. Standing at 6’4” in height, Julian Chabot picks up this accolade for what was an impressive individual campaign in the heart of the Köln defence. The German centre-half found himself in the top half of multiple metrics when compared with teammates. His 1361 completed passes alongside 84.2% pass completion came only second to Timo Hübers with 1473 and 84.5% accuracy (fbref.com). 

It would be fair to say unlike his centre-half partner Hübers, build-up play is not at the core of Chabot’s game. Where Chabot excelled all campaign was in the aerial contests, boasting the Bundesliga’s 10th highest aerial duels won with 119 in total. This equated to a 72.7% success rate when contesting a floating cross, long ball, or opposition goal kick – A total which clearly surpassed his nearest club competitor Timo Hubers’ 66.9% (fbref.com).  This was accompanied by his 59.3% tackle completion, ranking him third across the season at FC Köln. His affectionate nickname ‘the Bouncer’ is merited in every way.

At the tender age of 26, the future is bright for Chabot. Die Geissböcke fans crossed fingers and toes in the hope that their marquee centre-half would assist them in returning to Germany’s top-flight. However, with a rumoured €4million release clause present in his contract, Bundesliga and Premier League sides started to circle. Per Transfermarkt.co.uk, his player value has already witnessed a sharp increase from €5.5million in June 2023 to a current valuation of €9million – a significant bargain in the modern football market which VfB Stuttgart couldn’t pass up. The Swabians have already landed their man, contracting him until 2028. 

STANDOUT MOMENT:

Julian Chabot’s standout performance of the 2023-24 Bundesliga season came in Matchday 23 away to high-flying VfB Stuttgart. Köln were one of only four teams to make the resurging Swabians drop points in the Mercedez-Benz Arena all season. A feat in itself considering only Heidenheim, Hoffenheim, and Leverkusen managed to do similar.

In a complete 90-minute shift that only lacked a clean sheet, Chabot made 7 clearances, blocked 4 shots, while completing 3 interceptions and 3 tackles. The towering defender was only dribbled past on one solitary occasion. A further 6 from 8 ground duels won (80% success) and 3 from 4 aerial duels won (75% success) bolstered Köln. Chabot also won 3 fouls to relieve pressure on his side who remained defensively stout that day against Sebastian Hoeneß’ men who boasted a red-hot striker in Serhou Guirassy up top.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

The aforementioned Timo Hübers picked up a couple of votes for what was a similarly consistent season alongside Jeff Chabot. Tasked with getting to grips with midfield, Eric Martel also received one vote in what was a breakthrough season in Köln colours for the 21-year-old.

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