This season, Toprak has regained the trust and confidence in his own body through thorough training sessions. As a result of these sessions, the 31-year-old has now started 14 consecutive Bundesliga matches and is listed as the highest-rated Werder player of the campaign so far in kicker magazine. Alongside this is his success rate of 69.9% in duels, which puts him in second place in the league. As the central defender in a back three, his role extends past that of just his defensive duties however. Time and time again, Toprak is involved in build-up play for Florian Kohfeldt’s side, carrying the ball forward and urging the team on. “That’s something I enjoy a lot. I love contributing offensively!” he says as he describes playing in a back three for the first time in his long career of over 250 Bundesliga appearances.
For SC Freiburg, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and for Borussia Dortmund, Toprak was deployed as one of two centre-backs in a back four. At Werder he is thriving in his new role, but remains modest about his performances, nonetheless. “I don’t think you can say that it’s just me playing well as a result of the formation; we play better as a team. I can only play as well as my teammates at the end of the day.”