Angelo Stiller | VfB Stuttgart

Angelo Stiller had big shoes to fill this season.

The 22-year-old German youth talent signed for struggling Stuttgart in the Summer just gone as a replacement for Premier League-bound Wataru Endo.

Replacing a veteran and departing captain might have been a daunting prospect, but the former Hoffenheim midfielder has quickly silenced any doubters he might have had.

Stuttgart battled to retain their position in the Bundesliga last season – relying on a victory in the relegation playoff match. Thus far in 2023/2024, the club has enjoyed a substantial resurgence – attaining the most points ever for a side following a relegation playoff position the season prior.

Notably, the emergence of Serhou Guirassy and his 17 league goals have been a catalyst for this form. But observant spectators have also taken note of young Angelo Stiller.

Stepping directly into the position formerly held by Wataru Endo, Stiller forms the sturdy base of a young and exciting Stuttgart midfield. 

Defensive midfielders are typically profiled in two different ways.

1: The all-action tackling machine that enjoys nothing more than stripping attackers of the ball and passing to a more creative midfield partner. 

2: The ball progressor. The player dropping into the backline to receive the ball and get a team moving up the pitch.

Of course, you want a player that can perform elements of both to a certain standard, and Angelo Stiller certainly can, but firmly slots into number 2 in that classification.

Stiller is a crucial cog in the Stuttgart machine. Often presenting as the deepest central option with his defence and goalkeeper in possession, and extremely comfortable receiving the ball with his back to the game.

When receiving the ball under pressure from the opposition press, his ability to move the ball quickly and find a teammate gives Stuttgart an avenue to relieve pressure and build out from the back.

It’s tough to nick the ball away from a player who favours first-time passing, quick flicks, and deft touches to nearby teammates. But this playstyle does come with a fair amount of risk. It’s not entirely uncommon for a misplaced pass or an overly ambitious progression attempt to see Stiller plunged into trouble – especially dangerous for a deeper midfielder.

But these are the follies of a young player attempting to master a particularly difficult position. Even the best in the world can struggle.

Stiller isn’t an overly adventurous player, but isn’t one to sit back and limit his contributions entirely. While a foray into the opposition box might not be a common sight, his contribution to the Stuttgart attack isn’t solely limited to getting the ball forward to “more creative players”.

In fact, Stiller can be quite a menace around the opposition penalty area. Utilising that quick passing ability to unlock compact defences and open up attacking opportunities that didn’t seem forthcoming just seconds prior.

Likewise, from both deeper position and dead ball opportunities, Stiller is extremely adept at delivering dangerous crosses and balls into the penalty area.

From both open play and dead ball scenarios, Stiller sits firmly within the highest echelons of chance creators in European football. 

Very much a creator at heart, Stiller isn’t exactly inspiring in front of goal. Preferring to pass when possible, and rarely threatening the goal from range.

Prior to his move to Stuttgart in 2023, Stiller had been a regular feature for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, having left the Bayern Munich academy in 2021. It’s worth noting that before his move to Hoffenheim, Stiller was heavily linked with a transfer to Arsenal that ultimately never materialised. 

At 22 years old, Angelo Stiller has a wealth of time at his disposal to continue developing and learning what is becoming one of the most specialised positions in football. The German U21 international has over 50 Bundesliga games logged throughout his career thus far, and as an important member of the Stuttgart squad, playing time will not be a concern for him.

While fans of various European sides may be casting an eye to Stiller as a potential Summer target, it does feel as though another season as a regular starter at Stuttgart may benefit the youngster most. Stepping into a side competing at the top of their division and within Europe may be a step too far for now.

But Stiller has stepped comfortably into big shoes before…