Happy birthday Matthew Bondswell! The defender turns 18 today so it seems a very appropriate time to take a look at his time in Germany so far, as it approaches two years since he made the move abroad.
Back in 2018, there was a lot of talk about Nottingham Forest’s young defender. Bondswell, only 16 at the time, was regularly in tabloid gossip columns linking him with a move to Manchester United or Liverpool.
Ahead of the speculation, Bondswell’s last season with Forest (2017/18) saw him make the breakthrough to the under-18 side. A left-back with natural athleticism, he made three sub appearances in that year’s FA Youth Cup, playing alongside future English abroad Arvin Appiah.
He also won six caps for England U16s that season which surely helped put him on the radar of some of Europe’s biggest clubs and that age group now has had a strong English abroad feel to it with three of Bondswell’s teammates from that squad now also playing on the continent. Yunus Musah is at Valencia, Jeremy Sarmiento is at Benfica and Noni Madueke stars for PSV.
In the end, if the papers are to be believed, he turned down both the of the Premier League giants and Southampton in order to favour a move to Bundesliga side RB Leipzig because of a more realistic chance of first team football in the future.
This was a time when Ademola Lookman had just completed a very successful six moth loan spell with Die Roten Bullen (The Red Bulls) so their attention had clearly turned to the UK market. The club had also signed fellow Forest prospect Oliver Burke the previous season for £13m and had now returned to the City Ground to take another one of their top prospects.
In July 2018, Bondswell completed his move to Leipzig and initially joined the club’s side competing in the U17 Bundesliga. He soon went on to make the left back spot in the U17 side his own, making 23 league appearances and contributing an assist as Leipzig finished third in the table. He also played twice in the youth cup as he racked up nearly 2,000 minutes of game time.
During his first season for Leipzig he also continued to represent England at youth level, making the step-up to the under-17 side and playing in last May’s European U17 Championships in Ireland.
This season, Bondswell made the step up to RB Leipzig’s U19 side where he has continued to be the side’s main left-back, although he has missed several games through injury. Before the break in the season he had played in 12 of the club’s U19 Bundesliga games, contributing two assists.
The step-up in age group has also brought the chance to play in European football for the first time, with the left back making three appearances in the UEFA Youth League, playing Zenit twice and also in the home match against Lyon.
He has also continued to progress internationally, making four appearances for England U18s this season.
Bondswell’s development at Leipzig seems to be on the right track and he is making good progress. Playing in a strong youth league and also getting the chance to take on some of the best academies from Europe can only have helped. He may not have been involved in the first team yet but having only turned 18 today and with his club pushing for the Bundesliga title, it is not surprising he has not been given his chance – yet.
He’s making good progress internationally, with regular call-ups at each age level as he progresses.
Transfermarkt has his contract expiring this summer but I have not been able to find any proof of that and it seems unlikely would let this hot prospect leave anytime soon.