By Ultan Corcoran@UltanCorcoran

Bundesliga End of Season Awards: Stuttgart's Player of the Season

A grand total of 5 votes was enough from our team of writers to secure the Bundesliga Player of the Season accolade for VfB Stuttgart’s striker Serhou Guirassy.

 

What a season for the Swabians. A giant of the German domestic game with a fairytale renaissance. From 16th-place in 2022-23 and a nail-biting survival in avoiding the drop to a 2nd-place finish and a return to the Champions League. Sebastian Hoeneß has worked his magic and delivered their best top-flight placement since their last Bundesliga title in 2006/07. Nobody could have expected it. Utilising just €22.5million euros on a shoestring budget, a portion of which covered loan fees, survival must have been the first port of call. Unbeknownst to German football fans, Stuttgart would embark on an historic campaign.

With his loan spell coming to an end having netted 11 goals in 22 games, Serhou Guirassy put pen to paper for the 23/24 season at Stuttgart. The Swabians coughed up €9million to Stade Rennais. The man expected to help Hoeneß’ side swerve relegation would in fact deliver so much more. Racking up a whopping 28 goals and 3 assists in 28 appearances, the 28-year-old spearheaded Stuttgart’s European charge. An outsider might call this a fluke, a flash in the pan, but hindsight says otherwise. A whopping 31 of their 34 Matchdays were spent inside the top three. While they may have been fortuitous to see Bayern lose on the final day to snatch a top two finish; it was fruits reaped from a trojan campaign.

Arguably the Bundesliga’s most clinical striker in 2023-24, Guirassy was nothing short of ruthless. His 23.51xG for the season indicates he outscored his expected data by 4.49 goals – only Benjamin Šeško (5.4) managed more. While his right-foot is preferred, the Guinean managed 4 goals with his left and 5 with his head signifying his all-inclusive threat. As the second-top goal scorer this campaign, akin to Harry Kane, all but 4 of Gurassy’s goal came outside the 18-yard-box. What makes him so prolific is his intelligent positional awareness. While not the fastest, one short sprint behind or in front of his marker is all he needs to punish opponents. Signs point to a move away, but if he stays Stuttgart will be a force once more.  

STANDOUT PERFORMANCE:

The ‘perfect hattrick’ is a feat any forward young or old dreams about yet few have pulled it off. Adding his name to that list, Serhou Guirassy delivered exactly that on Matchday 4 away to Mainz. The first-half passed with little to discuss but burst to life in the 56th-minute. A long ball left Stefan Bell at sea while Guirassy controlled and stretched his legs. Mainz defenders ate up the ground, but it was too late to act – the Guinean’s right-footed chip sailed over Robin Zentner and into the net. The lead was short lived as Leandro Barreiro responded with quarter of the match remaining.

Picking up the loose ball on the counter, Chris Führich fed Guirassy on his left. The 28-year-old arced his body to shoot with his right only to swivel, sending Sepp van den Berg to ground. What seemed like an improbable angle to shoot under pressure from Zentner, Guirassy squeezed a low left-footed strike between man and post. With the last kick of the game Deniz Undav knocked possession into the Guinean’s path. One deft flick over Philipp Mwene followed by a loping header over the Mainz shot-stopper sealed a 3-1 victory. Travelling Swabians sprang out of their seats as Guirassy ensured all three points – one with the right, the left, and the head. 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

This award could have gone to half of the Stuttgart squad this season. Deniz Undav picked up two votes as he starred on loan from Brighton with 18 goals and 10 assists in 30 outings. Chris Führich also received 2 nominations as the 26-year-old German attacked with speed and grace to bag 8 goals and 7 assists in 34 games. Although without a vote, it feels unfair to ignore Maximilian Mittelstädt (2 goals, 4 assists, 11 clean sheets) who was excellent at left-back. So too centre-half Waldemar Anton (11 clean sheets, 34 appearances), and Angelo Stiller who arrived for €5million covering the Bundesliga’s seventh-highest distance with 356.2 kilometres (1 goal, 5 assists).

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