‘He has huge potential’ – Everything you need to know about Leeds United-bound Georginio Rutter

Georginio Rutter celebrates after scoring for Hoffenheim. November 2022. Credit: Alamy
Georginio Rutter celebrates after scoring for Hoffenheim. November 2022. Credit: Alamy

Leeds United are reportedly closing in on the signing of Hoffenheim forward Georginio Rutter for a club-record fee – but who is the 20-year-old?

Jesse Marsch’s side are in the market for a new striker in the January transfer window as Patrick Bamford has been restricted to just four Premier League starts this season.

Leeds and Hoffenheim have reportedly agreed to a transfer package worth up to £35.3m, which would surpass the Whites’ current transfer record of £27m that they paid to sign Rodrigo from Valencia.

We’ve brought you the lowdown on the France Under-21 international ahead of his move to Elland Road.

His career so far

Born in the north-western French town of Plescop in April 2002, Rutter joined his local club AS Menimur at the age of five before moving onto fourth-division side Vannes in 2014.

After attending the Pole Espoirs Football de Ploufragan – a smaller regional version of the famous Clairefontaine academy – he was then snapped up by Stade Rennes at the age of 15 in 2017.

He came through the youth ranks at Rennes, who have produced other talented players like Ousmane Dembele and Eduardo Camavinga in recent years.

During the 2019/20 season, the forward scored one goal in four UEFA Youth League appearances for Rennes Under-19s, as well as hitting four goals in 10 outings for their reserves.

At international level, Rutter starred for France at the Under-17 World Cup in 2019 and scored three goals as Les Blues finished third in the tournament

According to a report by L’Equipe in the summer of 2020, he attracted interest from Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Arsenal, Newcastle United and AC Milan. But Rutter remained at Rennes and made his senior debut against Saint-Etienne in September 2020, the first of four top-flight outings in France.

The forward also came off the bench to score in a 3-1 defeat against Sevilla on his Champions League debut but a lack of first-team opportunities saw him join Hoffenheim in a €750,000 deal in February 2021.

He then scored his first Bundesliga goal just three minutes into his Hoffenheim debut, finding the back of the net in a 4-0 win over Werder Bremen.

Since the start of the 2021/22 season, the 20-year-old has become a mainstay in the Hoffenheim side, registering 10 goals and six assists in 48 Bundesliga appearances. His performances earnt him a place among the 2022 Golden Boy award nominees and a call-up to the France Under-21 squad.

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Style of play

During his time at Hoffenheim, Rutter has predominantly played up front in a 3-5-2 formation, but he is equally comfortable out wide as he is through the middle.

The France Under-21 international is blessed with natural pace and impressive dribbling ability, making him a counter-attacking threat and a handful for any defender.

Standing at 6ft tall, he can regularly shake off opponents and win aerial duels, but he is also equipped with good technique and has a willingness to drop deep and get the ball at his feet.

Despite favouring his left foot, Hoffenheim’s no.33 is ambipedal and five of his 11 Bundesliga goals have come with his right foot.

Alongside his attacking skills, Rutter is also renowned for his committed playing style and hard work off the ball as he makes a lot of forward pressures and wins tackles high up the pitch.

He has been compared to Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino and Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry, with the former also having a spell at Hoffenheim before moving to England.

What he’s said

– “My qualities come to the fore in one-on-one situations,” Rutter said when asked about his strengths. “I can outfox a lot of opponents with my speed. I’m not scared of losing the ball. Those are all attacking attributes that make the game attractive.”

– “I think my left foot is my stronger foot, but I’m extremely confident with my right foot as well,” he said. “I’d say I’m two footed, but a bit stronger with my left foot.”

– “He wrote the history of Hoffenheim and I love his creativity,” Rutter told Scouted Football when asked about Roberto Firmino. “I can play with my back to goal when needed, but I also like to drift out wide and attack spaces as a winger. I’m a mix of all that.

“But I would say that things can change depending on the team you play for and what is happening during the game. I can also add that I’m a generous player – I run a lot.”

– “I have a great zest for life,” he told Goal when asked about his role in the France Under-17 team. “If someone is not feeling well, I try to comfort them. That’s important because the players have to feel good and be in a good mood . If I can give them that, I’m happy.”

What they’ve said about him

– “Technically, he was extremely good, whether with left or right,” Christopher Martin, who knows Rutter from their time together at the Pole Espoirs Football de Ploufragan academy, told Goal. “And physically he was a monster.”

– “George reminds me of Neymar, but not for the wrong reasons,” youth coach Frederic Lagadec said. “Rather because he loves football and just wants to have fun out on the pitch. He’s always trying to achieve his maximum.”

– “Georginio is very athletic, a good striker of a football and can play in a variety of forward roles,” former Hoffenheim manager Sebastian Hoeness said. “His combination of speed, athleticism and shooting ability with both feet means he has huge potential.”

– “Georginio’s development over the last year with us has been breathtaking,” Hoffenheim sporting director Alexander Rosen said.

“He’s one of the most promising young players in European football and his move to Hoffenheim has helped him progress considerably. Despite his young age he already has an unbelievable blend of athleticism, technique, speed and an eye for goal.”

– “He’s still young and still has a lot of work to do. Georginio has huge potential but he’s nowhere near finished yet,” Hoffenheim manager Andre Breitenreiter said.

– “He can be an amazing player but of course everything depends on him, more on his head and clear thinking,” team-mate Andrej Kramaric told Sky Sports.

He added: “If he is going to be fit and stable in the head I think he is going to have an amazing career. I believe he is going to be stable in the head because everything else he has.

“He is an extra potential player with physical power. He has a lot of space in front of him to improve. He can be a great player.”

– “At Hoffenheim, he’s had some games where he’s been unplayable,” journalist Kevin Hatchard told Sky Sports. “Defenders think they’ve got him caged by the touchline and he’ll weave through them and make something happen.

“He’s still raw, he’s not the finished article, but I think he would be a great fit for Leeds.”

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