NEWMAINS are backing New Mainz in the Bundesliga. Here our reporter CRAIG MAHOOD takes a look at one of their starmen ahead of Sunday’s clash with RB Leipzig.
TWO years ago last month Bote Baku was on the bus with Mainz’s reserve team when it hastily pulled into a service station.
Moments later he was in the fast lane to making his name in the first team.
At the age of 20 he found himself being summoned back after Mainz boss Sandro Schwarz’s last minute plea to plug a gap in his squad.
They were facing RB Leipzig that day – and the decision paid off as Baku scored the final goal in a 3-0 home win.
It capped a hugely impressive debut for the young midfielder, who covered more ground than any of his teammates in the process.
The following week Baku was at it again, scoring against Bundesliga big-hitters Borussia Dortmund. It was a goal that secured the win and ensured Mainz would remain a Bundesliga side the following season.
Tomorrow things come full circle as Baku faces Leipzig once more, only this time he’ll be a marked man.
You’d be forgiven for thinking a midfielder sitting at a pintsized 5ft 9in might be a little lightweight in that area of the park.
But diminutive Baku has shown he has a cocktail of attributes which has seen him cement a regular place in the first team.
Of Congolese descent, the German-born central midfielder was christened Bote at birth.
But he now goes by the name Ridle thanks to his father persistently calling him it after Borussia Dortmund legend Karl-Heinz Riedle.
Mainz’s No34 has also shown his versatility and played at right-back in the side’s inspired comeback at FC Köln last weekend to secure a draw having been 2-0 down.
The box-to-box midfielder is yet to get off the mark this campaign. He has registered one assist so far and has a red card to his name.
European giants PSG are reportedly keeping tabs on him, illustrating the consistent level he has found in the Mainz first team this season.