Just 24 hours after signing a new deal to extend his stay at Brentford until 2026, Vitaly Janelt etched himself into Bees folklore by scoring twice against world champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
As far as footballing weekends are concerned, last weekend was an historic one the 23-year-old midfielder will simply never forget.
Joining Brentford for a fee of just £500k in October 2020 from Bundesliga 2 side Bochum, Janelt has quickly become the latest hidden gem the club have managed to unearth with their impressive and expansive recruitment strategy.
Janelt excelled as head coach Thomas Frank reverted to a 3-5-2 formation in the hope of hurting Chelsea with an intense press and counter-attacking approach with the German’s surging forward runs and defensive off-the-ball work causing problems throughout.
For both of his goals on Saturday, Janelt was the furthest Brentford midfielder forward but nevertheless took both opportunities as if he was a seasoned striker.
It’s remarkable to think that his goal tally of four in the Premier League is now equal to that of the entire 2020/21 Championship campaign but it’s merely testament to the development and evolution of the player under Frank.
Originally brought to the club as a ‘number 6’, Christian Norgaard’s excellence in the same role has forced Frank to view the player differently – more as an all action midfielder.
“I know he has that ability to go box to box,” Thomas Frank told London Football Scene after the historic win over Chelsea.
“He’s got that rare ability to be a really good pressing player, he’s very good defensively and has that feeling of arriving into the box from deep and scoring goals”.
Whilst pundits often rightly praise the likes of Christian Eriksen and Ivan Toney, Janelt’s upward trajectory into one of Brentford’s most important players has developed somewhat under the radar, seeing him become an unsung hero.
His footballing intelligence, matched with physical prowess, a fearless mentality and high energy levels has made Janelt a perfect fit in Brentford’s system with the player enjoying a perfect Premier League start with a goal against Liverpool back in October.
Having already been part of Germany’s successful Euro U21s Championships, rumours of a possible senior Germany call-up soon emerged, only for a thigh injury to hinder his progress both domestically and internationally.
On his return from injury, Janelt’s performances showed an inconsistency which is natural for a player still relatively young and still finding their feet in an unfamiliar league.
However, the January arrival of Eriksen has been crucial not only for the upturn in Brentford’s fortunes but in providing Janelt with a new lease of life.
With Eriksen excellently conducting play from deeper midfield areas and fellow Dane Norgaard expertly shielding the back line, Janelt has been given more freedom to roam forward and wreak havoc in opposition six-yard boxes.
Although he is still not the finished article, Saturday’s display against Chelsea will have undoubtedly shown the rest of the footballing world just what a top midfielder Vitaly Janelt could become – both for Brentford and Germany.
‘LONDON FOOTBALL UNITES FOR UKRAINE’
Liaising with the UK Ukrainian Sports Supporters Club (UKUSSC) and the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB), London Football Scene has launched ‘London Football Unites for Ukraine’ – a fundraising campaign to provide as much relief to those in need.
We are urging all the Capital’s clubs, players and fans to raise as much money as possible for British-Ukrainian Aid (registered charity No. 1164472).
Please visit our JustGiving Page to give as much as you can and look out for more events and fundraising activities over the coming few weeks.
London Football Unites for Ukraine: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/londonfootballunitesforukraine