By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Augsburg loan-out Malone discusses recent success: "I'm back playing in the right position."

German American striker Maurice Malone has quickly found success in his latest loan-out to the Austrian Bundesliga.

The FC Augsburg man sat down with Maximilian Agustin of German footballing magazine Kicker to discuss this recent success and prospects for returning to the Bundesliga. 
By all accounts, it looks was Augsburg's offseason personnel moves at the striker position have been an unqualified success. The center-forward swap that saw the FCA ship Michael Gregortisch to Freiburg whilst taking on Ermedin Demirovic is finally beginning to bear fruit. After a slow start, Demirovic bagged a brace in his last league encounter to bring his total for the league campaign up to four goals.

Deadline day signing Mërgim Berisha has been nothing short of phenomenal. The 24-year-old German Kosovar has been directly involved in three goals and consistently impressed in most every performance. Some consider him worthy of German national team trainer Hansi Flick's upcoming World Cup squad.

The Fuggerstädter took something of a gamble at the striker position as deadline day approached. Other potential center-forwards were shipped out on loan for the season just prior to the window closing. Mexican American number-nine Ricardo Pepi went west to FC Groningen in the Erdevisie. German American candidate Maurice Malone travelled east to spend the year at Wolfsberger AC.

Both Augsburg loan-outs have enjoyed success with their new clubs, most definitely giving Stefan Reuter and the FCA administrative team something to think about in terms of longer range planning. Pepi has netted two goals and registered an assist for the Dutch outfit. Malone, on the other hand, has caught fire.

The 22-year-old former German youth international scored a brace in just his second competitive debut for his new team and has added three goals since then. Immediately trusted by former Freiburg, Leverkusen, Bremen, and Bochum trainer Robin Dutt to work in a double striker set alongside Israeli forward Tai Baribo, Malone is passing his latest loan test with flying colors.

"I'm very happy with how things are going at the moment," Malone told Kicker magazine's Maximilian Agustin in a recent interview, "I'm glad that the coach gave me confidence right from the start and that I was able to repay that."

Malone currently serves on his third consecutive loan-out. After spending the 2020/21 campaign with SV Wehen Wiesbaden in the third division, he worked in the 2. Bundesliga with 1. FC Heidenheim last year. Malone fully expected that he would finally get his chance in the top flight this year; not least because new FCA head-coach Enrico Maaßen had plenty of praise for his performance in training camp.

Still, the top flight mi notes didn't come. Malone admitted his surprise at both not receiving time and learning of his loan-out at on the final day of the window, even if the move has worked wonders for him thus far. While Malone declared himself "happy amid the cozy [Austrian] mountains and landscape", he also explained that all sentiments in the pre-season belonged to his parent-club.

"I was at Augsburg for the entire preparation preparation phase and fully focused on that," Malone told Agustin, "I was told that I would get playing time. But then we were five matchdays into the season and I hadn't played a single minute. I started to say to myself 'I hope that something comes up'"

"I'm disappointed that I didn't get to play in the Bundesliga, because I thought I could handle it," he continued, "So for me personally, I decided to get a lot of playing time with the loan and have a top year."

Malone did credit his experience in the lower leagues with his success in Austria.

"Since there is already a high level  in Germany, I didn't find it so difficult in terms of settling in," he said, " I'm already a bit more experienced and that's why it wasn't so hard for me to get started."

Malone's "experience" includes a 21-scorer-point campaign for Heidenheim during the 2020/21 season. After racking  up 12 goals in the third division, however, the Augsburg-native could only manage two tallies when stepping up a class with Heidenheim. Malone seemed to think that this had a bit to do with the fact that trainer Frank Schmidt often deployed him on the wing as opposed to the very top axis.

"In contrast to last year, I'm now playing in the right position," Malone noted,"[I play] where I feel comfortable and where I can finally show what I can do. That's why it's so much fun here. Of course, it's also important to have a teammate [Baribo] who uses you well and with whom you can harmonize. We set up each other's goals and that's the main thing."

As to whether he still hoped to return to his hometown and possibly finally make his first Bundesliga appearance, Malone obviously emphasized that it was far too early to think about things with such a long road ahead.

I just want to give full throttle for the year and then we'll see where it leads," the youngster concluded, "I'm not concerned with what will happen after that. We'll see what happens next summer."

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