Talay impressed by Phoenix’s new German ‘bulldog’

A creator with the ball, a bulldog without it. That’s why Ufuk Talay knows new recruit Matti Steinmann is a major asset for Wellington Phoenix for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season.

With a hole to plug in his midfield for the 2019/20 Season, the Phoenix boss got his man in the former German youth international and Bundesliga playmaker.

The 24-year-old penned a one-year deal on Friday and gives Talay another option in midfield alongside Alex Rufer and Tim Payne.

"He's a little bit more versatile. He plays in midfield but uses both his feet, which is great especially for a midfielder,” Talay said of the former Hamburg player.

“To be able to open up and use both his feet makes life a lot easier. He's a good size, we always talk about size in the coach's office, but he's a good size and has a presence in midfield and gives us a lot of depth with Payne and Rufer.

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"The thing about Matti as well is that if we're really struggling he can do a great job as a central defender, because if we want to play out form the back he's technically good enough to do that, and also he can play higher up if we need to play him as a No.10."

Asked if it was the attacking or defensive side of his game which attracted him to the German, Talay said: “Both.

“With the ball they are footballers, without the ball they become bulldogs.”

Steinmann said a glowing endorsement from former Melbourne Victory attacker Max Biester convinced him to come and play in the Hyundai A-League.

Matti Steinmann in action for Hamburg in the Bundesliga
Matti Steinmann in action for Hamburg in the Bundesliga

It’s not the first time he will play in New Zealand either, having been a part of the Germany squad that featured in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2015.

A few years later Steinmann burst onto the scene with Hamburg in the Bundesliga before a serious knee injury stalled his career.

Now he hopes a move across the other side of the world to Wellington can be the catalyst to get back to his best.

"When you're a young player you only know the way up but then you get an injury, but I learned a lot from that injury mentally,” he said.

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“It was a hard situation. I was so close to the first team. I played in two matches and then I got the injury. But now I'm highly motivated for a new challenge.

"Football has quick changes, from one day to another you can be in the first league and the other day you can be in the fourth league.

“But I have had lots of experience in all four leagues in Germany and that's why I said no, I want something new. I want a new experience and a new challenge."