One week has now passed since the continental European footballing transfer window slammed shut. An early weekend treat appeared on Bulinews some three days ago. For those eager to catch up on a Monday morning, we’ll repost here.
The longest ever summer transfer window finally drew to a close on Monday. A complete list of all transactions undertaken by the 18 Bundesliga clubs contesting the 2020/21 campaign can be found here.
With the dust now settled, we can begin to add some context to all of the activity. In this piece, we’ll evaluate the personnel decisions of all 18 clubs using the European grading scale of 1 (being top marks) to 6 (representing the bottom grade).
Who were the big winners and losers? Let’s find out.
The single most important piece of information guiding analysis of the historically long summer 2020 transfer period must be this fact: Combined spending of all 18 Bundesliga clubs barely surpassed the total Chelsea FC spent to acquire Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.
Indeed. German frugality meets the COVID Era. The Bundesrepublik’s fan-owned clubs, Hoffenheim being the caveat, do not have billionaire backers. Deprived of their gate receipts, we’ve witnessed clubs try all manner of moves to shore up their rosters for the coming campaign.
Many direct swaps and uniquely structured loan deals accompanied the movement of players. As detailed as this column is, we will not cover every last move. Every transaction deemed of some consequence is nevertheless noted in each club’s individual section.
For some clubs, clear advantages emerge from a league-wide study of the personnel shifts. Others shall find the coming condensed schedule very difficult indeed. All of the most important questions arising from the summer moves find treatment below.
The column concludes with a new mid-season table projection based on the latest information.
-FC Bayern München
-1. FC Union Berlin
Four clubs are deemed to have had the most successful windows. Two of the “usual suspects” meet the two aspiring capital clubs in the best-graded section. A shift toward more stable top-tier football in the nation’s capital seems underway. This in itself counts as a big shift for German football.
FC Bayern München
In = Leroy Sane (LW), Tanguy Nianzou (CB), Alexander Nübel (GK), Marc Roca (DM), Eric Maxim Chuopo Moting (LS), Douglas Costa (RW), Bouna Sarr (RB)
Out = Thiago Alcantara (CM), Ivan Perisic (LW), Philippe Countinho (ATTM), Alvaro Odriozola (RB), Sven Ulreich (GK), Michaël Cuisance (CM)
Grade = 1+
For the second consecutive summer the German giants succeeded in getting their administrative ducks in a row at the last minute. Since Uli Hoeneß began easing his way out of an active role in personnel matters, there has often been criticism that Hasan Salihamidzic lacks a certain “killer instinct” in getting deals done.
Many doubted that the main actor in charge of stocking the team would give coach Hansi Flick the specifics that he asked for as the clock ticked down. At the close of business, Salihamdzic over-delivered. The Bavarians, not at all immune to the financial duresses of these corona times, made intelligent moves.
One shouldn’t forget that both Eric Maxim Choup-Moting and young phenom Tanguy Nianzou came in on frees from PSG.
The Big Splurges: Assessing the Sané, Roca, and Sarr deals
Until such time as its possible to watch a fully fit Leroy Sané operate on the left wing, we won’t know if the major €45 million purchase can be considered a success. For now it seems a bargain as he would have cost them twice that amount last year.
Marc Roca was acquired for perhaps half his true value. Some German footballing pundits have already criticized the Bouna Sarr purchase as an unnecessary outlay. A 28-year-old back-up, the argument goes, doesn’t justify €8 million.
Unfortunately, this claim is mostly predicated on young Chris Richards being able to rotate starts with Benjamin Pavard. Richards’ debut start shows that he isn’t quite ready. It was important to bring in the Frenchman.
Should the Joshua Zirkzee and Javi Martinez deals have been completed?
Understand the club did, in fact, focus their administrative resources on the right moves in the final hours. Finding loan destinations for Adrian Fein and Michael Cuisance were simply more important.
The absolute steal of a deal to contract Choupo Moting on a free surely tied up a lot of execs. Negotiations to obtain Douglas Costa surely involved intricate wrangling as the FCB had to commit to his salary in lieu of a loan fee.
A club with such a successful youth squad needn’t worry about having too large a roster.
When will the Alexander Nübel signing begin to pay off?
Such a question takes one a bit away from the realm of transfer window commentary and into a larger question about when superhuman sweeper Manuel Neuer might be preparing to step aside. This writer will project eight starts for Nübel this season. No more. No less.
In = Jude Bellingham (ATTM), Thomas Meunier (RB), Reinier Jesus Carvalho (ATTM), Felix Passlack (RB), Youssoufa Moukoko (LS), Jamie Binoe-Gittens (ATTM)
Out = Leonardo Balerdi (CB), Dzenis Burnic (DM), Mario Götze (ATTM), André Schürrle (LW), Achraf Hakimi (RW), Marius Wolf (RW)
Grade = 1+
The BVB recently reported over €70 million corona-related losses recently. One might think that such figures would have influenced Michael Zorc’s thinking as Manchester United angled for Jadon Sancho this Summer. One would be wrong and Zorc deserves enormous credit for sticking to his guns in that situation.
Zorc and colleagues complete yet another well-played window. Seventeen-year-old Jude Bellingham is already the toast of the Bundesliga. Thomas Meunier serves as an apt placeholder on the right flank until such time as Reinier can join the other young guns.
It looks increasingly doubtful that the current Schwarzgelb incarnation can challenge for the title this year. They are nevertheless well stocked for the years to come.
Two gold strikes with early purchases
Bellingham and veteran German footballer Emré Can, acquired on loan from Juventus Turin last January, cost the club a combined €48 million at the beginning of the window. Both players appear worth every penny.
Can’s maturation sees him find new life as a mobile center-back in the Lucien Favre’s latest 3-4-3. The 26-year-old is in even better form than his 2016/17 Liverpool days. Even should he be called back to midfield, the communicative bold he has formed with Mats Hummels will serve him very well.
Two blunt business choices
This shall be forever remembered as the summer that the pair who combined to score the winning goal in Germany’s 2014 World Cup Final victory over Argentina, Mario Götze and André Schürrle, were both released by the BVB.
The club had been loaning out the 29-year-old Schürrle for a couple years while waiting for the 28-year-old Götze’s contract to expire. Football remains a rough business and no German footballing enthusiasts particularly enjoyed seeing one-time heroes treated in such a cold fashion.
Sentimentality aside one must say that the case of both players were at least handled well. Götze was given a proper send-off with a ceremony in the 2019/20 season’s final match. The BVB at least cancelled Schürrle’s contract rather than loan him out again.
Well-handled transactions for roster excess
The German Vize-Meister found places for virtually all of its roster bloat. Leonardo Balerdi and Immanuel Pherai will find playing time at their destinations. A failed attempt to get Felix Passlack loaned out again turned out to be a blessing in disguise after the 22-year-old’s surprisingly solid start to the season.
It would have been nice if Zorc could have outright sold Marius Wolf rather than loaning him out again, but the market for such a move simply doesn’t exist at the moment. How Zorc got SV Werder Bremen to shell out €5 million for Ömer Toprak constitutes a miracle in itself.
When can we see Youssoufa Moukoko?
November 20th at the earliest. The BVB Wunderkind of all Wunderkinds must wait until his 16th birthday before making his Bundesliga debut. The fact that the club sought to purchase his Juniors contract and structure an arrangement for a possible Bundesliga appearance is even more insane than his skills.
In = Jhon Cordorba (CF), Alexander Schwolow (GK), Deyovaisio Zeefuik (RB), Omar Alderete (CB), Matteo Guendozi (ATTM), Eduard Löwen (ATTM) Lucas Tousart (DM), Jessic Ngankam (LS), Daishawn Redan (LS)
Out = Ondrej Duda (ATTM), Pascal Köpke (CF), Per Ciljan Skelbred (CM), Salomon Kalou (LW), Vedad Ibisevic (LS), Muhammed Kiprit (CF), Thomas Kraft (GK), Karim Rekik (CB), Alexander Esswein (RW), Palko Dardai (RW), Marko Grujic (CM), Arne Maier (DM) Marius Wolf (RW)
Grade = 1,5
To properly assess this club’s window, one must first put all the theatrics surrounding potential moves for Mario Götze, Christian Eriksen, and Marko Grujic out of one’s mind. Media and fans alike craved a sensational blockbuster deal from “die alte Dame” on deadline day; something befitting of all the cash Lars Windhorst has pumped into the club.
Such moves truly weren’t needed. The Hertha administration ensured that trainer Bruno Labbadia received the proper upgrades at reasonable prices. The inherent strength of this team remained apparent well before the late moves. The final transactions should accord Labbadia enough to talent to contest the European places by Christmas.
Klinsmann’s last piece finally arrives
Last January, the procurement of then 22-year-old midfielder Lucas Tousart proved so vitally important to Jürgen Klinsmann that he was willing to cut a large check and defer arrival. Tousart cost Klinsi €25 million. Olympique Lyon not being quite ready to part with the player wouldn’t stop the ambitious coach from getting his man. He simply purchased the midfielder and constructed a short-term loan deal to allow the defensive stalwart to finish the season in France.
Klinsmann’s dramatic resignation from the club in February yet again renders him an easy target for criticism. The former Bayern, German national team, and USMNT coach will never shake his reputation as an self-entitled control freak who believes that his magic touch should permeate every last aspect of a footballing program.
All of that notwithstanding, another footballing organization will reap great benefits from his tenure. As was the case with the German national team (youngster, faster, more energetic football), Bayern (modernized training facilities), and the USMNT (international recruitment, more streamlined administrative apparatus), the Klinsi fingerprints will remain with Hertha as they make the transition to a consistently competitive team.
Matheus Cunha alone will carry this team far. Krzysztof Piatek, Santiago Ascacibar, and Tousart will contribute more with time.
Cutting more dead weight while identifying the right comebacker
Klinsmann also deserves credit for beginning to ease some of the old Hertha guard out. He loaned out Ondrej Duda, Eduard Löwen, Davie Selke, Sydney Friede, Maurice Covic, and Dennis Jastrzembski, last winter. Public statements indicated that he wished to move Alexander Esswein, Per Ciljan Skjelbred, Pascal Köpke, Salomon Kalou, Mathew Leckie as well.
Appropriate roster shedding continued over the summer. The Kalou situation essentially fixed itself. Veterans Skjelbred, Esswein departed on frees. The club even pocketed some cash for Duda and Köpke. Like his style or not, Klinsmann was absolutely correct in stating that the roster he inherited at Hertha was far too large.
Laddadia also placed the appropriate players–Palko Dardai, Maurice Kovic, and Florian Baak–back down with the reserves and, in Eduard Löwen, recalled the most successful of Klinsmann’s loans back to the capital early.
A €30 million snatch up on deadline day
One can argue that the club overpaid for Jhon Cordoba, Alexander Schwolow, Omar Alderete and even Deyovaisio Zeefuik. Taken together, Hertha shelled out perhaps €9 million more than was strictly necessary for that quartet. Naturally, it makes little difference if each one continues along their current trajectory.
Furthermore, the landing of Arsenal’s Matteo Guendozi near the close of the window was expertly done. The 21-year-old roaming defensive midfielder’s current worth estimates of €30-35 million may actually be rather overrated. The capital club nabbed him for the ridiculous bargain basement price of a €1 million loan fee.
Guendozi may be the perfect partner for Tousart in Labbadia’s preferred 4-2-3-1. Two defensive-minded midfielders can unleash the likes of Zeefuik or Maximilian Mittelstädt as ferocious wingbacks. Possibilities for the Bundesliga’s most mobile player, Vladamir Darida, are similarly enhanced. Simply stated, the Guendozi bargain was just a huge move.
Should Jessic Ngankam have been moved?
The summer’s most important call-up from the youth ranks reportedly expressed the desire to be loaned out for the duration of the season. Too much attacking talent lay before him on the depth chart. Cordoba, Piatek, Dodi Lukebakio, and even the returning Daishawn Redan remain more likely to start over him.
In this instance, the club did an excellent job of communicating to the player what his specific role shall look like in the coming season. The 20-year-old will work as a regular “joker” (“Super sub” in English parlance). Ngankam’s wondrous goal moments after being introduced against Bayern is only the beginning.
One should expect big things from the youngster this season. Hertha did well to hold onto him.
1. FC Union Berlin
In = Robin Knoche (CB), Sebastian Griesbeck (DM), Niko Gießelmann (LB), Cedric Teuchert (CF) Andreas Luthe (GK), Lorius Karius (GK), Taiwo Awoniyi (CF), Joel Pohjanpalo (CF), Nico Schlotterbeck (CB), Keita Endo (LW), Max Kruse (LS)
Out = Sebastian Andersson (CF), Joshua Mees (LW), Rafal Gikiewicz (GK), Felix Kroos (CM), Sebastian Polter (LS), Suleiman Abdullahi (CF), Neven Subotic (CB), Berkan Taz (LW), Nicolai Rapp (CB), Lennard Maloney (CB), Keven Schlotterbeck (CB), Yunus Malli (ATTM)
Grade = 1-
The country’s smaller capital club will not be following their larger rivals up the table to the Europa league places anytime soon. Eisern Union nevertheless completed what must be described as an especially strong window. They’re not headed for Europe, but they’re definitely not headed back down to the second division.
As noted in a previous column, the frugal upgrades constitute almost a textbook example of how a smaller market club should prepare for its second season in Germany’s top flight. Consider this crew properly bolstered for a mid-table finish.
Beginning with a solid purchase
The first order of business for any loan-reliant club following the season concerns which players need to be bought out. Union began negotiating with Magdeburg’s Marius Bülter as soon as he scored his first goal in 2019/20’s early upset victory over Dortmund.
The scouting department hit the jackpot with Bülter, securing a total of seven league-goals for themselves in the campaign by plucking a talented player out of German football’s third tier. In the end, they could easily purchase him from his cash-strapped parent club for less than half his value.
The rebuilt “Iron Armada”
Max Kruse. Taiwo Awoniyi. Joel Pohjanpalo. Cedric Teuchert. How many combined goals will Union’s four new strikers be worth over the coming campaign? Can they exceed the total of 13 furnished by the departed Sebastian Andersson?
With Christoper Lenz supplying swanky services off set-pieces, there exists a great deal of potential for strong and tall attackers such as these. Kruse should be good for 7 to 10. Awoniyi will get in three to five. Pohjanpalo and Teuchert found the back of the net 15 times at Hamburger SV last season.
Everyone needs to remain healthy, of course. If they can’t, the quirks of this year’s schedule mean that the next transfer period is actually less than three months away. This team always had plenty of suppliers. Now they have a surplus of finishers as well.
Top class. There’s no other way to put it. Robin Knoche, formerly of VfL Wolfsburg, has always been one of the Bundesliga’s hardest working center backs. He can also play in midfield and even scored twelve league goals whenever stationed on the flanks. Knoche is a superb get on a free.
Fortuna Düsseldorf’s Niko Gießelmann also counts as a solid trench-working left back. He’s physical enough to mark some of the Bundesliga’s best, but also has the speed to play higher up. Like Knoche, he’s long been a favorite of German football watchers who appreciate a genuinely gritty worker. He also came in on a free.
Throw in the no-expense capture of keeper Lorius Karius and one has three major defensive upgrades and effectively no cost. The likes of Gießelmann and Knoche also fit this team’s general persona.
It should be a good season at the Stadion an der alten Försterei.
-TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Five also-rans comprise the largest section on the graded scale. The presence of five clubs in this section, combined with four in the opening section, means that 9 of the Bundesliga’s 18 clubs are deemed to have handled the transfer window either extremely well or fairly well.
Put another way, half of the league weathered the unprecedented revenue crisis in a generally good or even great fashion. Impressive.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
In = Mijat Gacinovic (ATTM), Kevin Vogt (CB), Kasim Adams (CB), Sebastian Rudy (DM), Ryan Sessegnon (LB)
Out = Steven Zuber (LW)
Grade = 2+
Die Kraichgauer, much to the chagrin of many, continue to quietly improve themselves and may return to the Champions League after this season. The previous window, in which the club acquired Munus Dabbur, Jacob Bruun Larsen, and Ilay Elmkies, was far more interesting. Moreover, last autumn’s transfer class–Diadie Samassekou, Ihlas Bebou, Robert Skov, Sargis Adamyan, and Konstantinos Stafylidas–served as the real rebuild of this team.
The Sinsheimers nevertheless got some significant pieces of business done. They fall out of the 1-Class by virtue of the fact that the roster remains a mite too large. It could have been better trimmed.
Retaining Adams and Vogt
Kasim Adams and Kevin Vogt didn’t necessarily have successful loan spells at Fortuna Düsseldorf and SV Werder Bremen. Coach Sebastian Honeneß was smart enough to welcome them both back into the fold.
In the case of Vogt, it has reaped immediate dividends. The 28-year-old is off to a strong start in three starts this season. Adams performed reasonably well in his lone start. One can opine that the defender should have been loaned out again, but he may come in handy if injuries mount.
Selling Bittencourt and Kobel
By contrast, two other returning loan players definitely needed to be turned into cash. Leonardo Bittencourt fetched €7 million from Bremen; easily twice the offensive midfielder’s worth.
The administration could have potentially gotten more out of Stuttgart for keeper Gregor Kobel. In the final analysis, €4 million proved acceptable. A significant improvement in attack, Frankfurt’s Mijat Gacinovic, cost only €3 million
Deadline day coups
Thirty-year-old former national team midfielder Sebastian Rudy remains the closest thing this young organization shall ever have to a “club man” for many years. Dietmar Hopp’s concoction doesn’t have club legends yet.
After eight seasons playing in a blue SAP tricot, Rudy considers Hoffenheim his natural home. The club did extremely well to work out the late loan arrangement with Schalke and bring back a talismanic presence who will likely start almost every match.
As for the Ryan Sessegnon deal, that frankly counted as a major accomplishment. The Rheine-Neckar club added a world class €25 million left back to their arsenal on a no-cost loan. Hoffenheim used their burgeoning reputation as an excellent proving ground for young talent to outmaneuver other clubs.
It is through this reputation that Hopp’s club will get even stronger in the years to come.
In = Baptiste Santamaria (DM), Ermedin Demirovic (CF), Guus Til (ATTM), Florian Müller (GK), Benjamin Uphoff (GK), Kevin Schlotterbeck (CB), Woo-yeong Jeong (RW)
Out = Luca Waldschmidt (LS), Robin Koch (CB), Alexander Schwolow (GK), Nico Schlotterbeck (CB), Mike Frantz (CM), Brandon Borrello (RW), Marco Terrazino (LW)
Grade = 2,5
Keeping a close eye on the many smaller moves such a small town club makes remains essential if one wishes to understand how the less marketable clubs remain in the top flight. It’s never easy to score the deals as there are always invariably too many X-factors among them.
Pessimism ordinarily accompanies the pre-season assessment of Freiburg’ survival prospects, even for those German prognosticators who harbor a certain quixotic hope that Christian Streich will once again pull it off.
This year shaped up to be fatalistic yet after the departures of Alexander Schwolow, Robin Koch, and Luca Waldschmidt. Unlike in previous years, Streich and the board managed to largely reverse this cynicism with deft moves.
Properly handling the size of the roster
The Freiburg trainer knows what sort of squad he wants. A clear-cut plan counts for quite a lot. Pascal Stenzel, Jerome Gondorf, Mohammed Dräger, Chima Okoroji, Christoph Daferner, and Mohammed Dräger all returned from loan only to be immediately be shipped back out again.
Streich retained Woo-yeong Jeong after the 21-year-old assembled relevant experience at FC Bayern II. He can play alongside countryman Chang-hoon Kwon on the right should Streich need some late magic.
The loan management made a great deal of sense, as did the swap of the Schlotterbeck brothers with 1. FC Union Berlin. Both sides got something out of the latter.
How important is the Santamaria acquisition?
It’s enormous. Streich aims to build an entirely new midfield around the 25-year-old Frenchmen. Whether the Baden trainer uses a 4-4-1-1 with Nicolas Höfler working as the partner or a 4-2-3-1 with Roland Sallai on the front foot, the early indications are positive.
Are the remaining moves sufficient?
Elsewhere, the Breigauer obtained adequate reinforcements to offset their losses. Florian Müller has thus far out-performed Schwolow as a keeper in the early going. Ermedin Demirovic hasn’t started yet, but he has the potential to collect as many goals as Waldschmidt.
Manuel Gulde’s rather slow start to the season is worrying, but the rest of defensive ranks have otherwise performed well. Based on what one has seen thus far, not to mention a soft upcoming schedule, there should be more Freiburg overachieving this autumn.
In = Hannes Wolf (CF), Valentino Lazaro (RM), Michael Lang (RB), Andreas Poulsen (LB), Julio Villalba (CF), Luis Jordan Beyer (RB)
Out = Tobias Strobl (DM), Fabian Johnson (LW), Raffael Caetano de Araujo (AM)
Grade = 2,5
The foals remain rather quiet for the second consecutive window. This in itself isn’t a bad thing. It merely demonstrates that Marco Rose and Rene Maric largely have the team they want.
Once the relevant actors get fully fit, the West Prussians should have little difficulty lighting up the league early just as they did last season. Rose, Maric, Max Eberl deserve credit for not making any silly moves. They have a well-choreographed long term plan that requires no further tinkering.
That being said, there were some administrative hiccups. Nothing major. Nothing that keeps Gladbach out of Class 2. We’ll nevertheless address them briefly.
Wolf: A player who just doesn’t fit.
While it was surely worth a shot to bring in disaffected Leipzig striker Hannes Wolf in on loan, it’s been obvious from the onset of competitive play this year that the Austrian’s style of play simply doesn’t jive with the rest of the team’s style.
The 21-year-old emerging talent has every reason to feel hard done by after hard luck injuries ruined his debut Bundesliga campaign last year. Gladbach was just a bad choice for both parties.
The club can’t even afford to give him many more chances as 15 starts will trigger to compulsory purchase clause. Again, this does not constitute a major error. Rose can keep him out of the starting XI and he may yet contribute off the bench.
It’s likely not too early to start considering an early return, however.
Later loan deals fall through
At 31 active players, the current Gladbach roster stands far too large. Michael Lang, Andreas Poulsen, Julio Villalba, and Louis Jordan Beyer, all of whom returned from loan, probably should have been sent out again.
The eminently respectable sporting director Max Eberl did his level best to generate some public interest in his players, but could only conclude a loan for young Keanan Bennetts on deadline day.
To reiterate the general point once more, such minor missteps hardly count against the grade. They may mean even less in a year like this one; when another window remains just around the corner.
In = Felix Uduokhai (CB), Robert Gumny (RB), Rafal Gikiewicz (GK), Tobias Strobl (DM), Daniel Caligiuri (CM), Michael Gregoritsch (AM), Mads Petersen (LB)
Out = Phillip Max (LB), Maurice Malone (CF), Andreas Luthe (GK), Georg Teigl (RM), Sergio Cordova (CF), Simon Asta (RB), Daniel Baier (DM), Stefan Lichtsteiner (RB), Tin Jedvaj (CB)
Grade = 2-
Few will have predicted the early success of the latest Fuggerstädter transfer class. Who could have foreseen Daniel Caligiuri and Michael Gregoritsch clicking so soon after their wretched second half to last season with Schalke? Did anyone honestly believe that Felix Uduokhai would play his way into the team of the week by matchday two?
Rafal Gikiewicz’s might have been deliberately brought in to replace the disappointing Thomas Koubek, but his top notch performances thus far this season have been most surprising. Iago Borduchi slid into the departed Phillip Max’s role with remarkable ease.
Indeed, much has come out the blue. Those who tipped Augsburg for the relegation race prior to the season based their pick on the reasonable assumption that these are by no means high-caliber plays. Sometimes the right motley assemblage of veterans just works.
The storm has passed
Martin Schmidt’s Augusburg were so desperate for defending at the beginning of last season that they brought in 36-year-old Swiss international Stefan Lichtsteiner in for one last hurrah. An injury to Jeffrey Gouweleew meant Schmidt had to bring in Uduokhai and Tin Jedvaj in at the autumn transfer buzzer to get his flailing back four sorted out.
Heiko Herrlich and the board have done a good job of settling matters down, personnel wise. Politely pushed retirements of both Lichtsteiner and Daniel Baier helped. Potential or no, Jedvaj and Simon Asta needed to be shown the door. Robert Gumny hasn’t featured yet, but one anticipates that he will perform well.
More help is on the way
Gumny isn’t the only new face that can help this team over the course of the season. The quiet acquisition of Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Tobias Strobl over the summer may prove to be significant later on as well.
Strobl is a stable midfield box-to-boxer who can work as a six, eight, or even ten. The 30-year-old’s work ethic has always been obvious to Bundesliga watchers since his Hoffenheim days. Three late introductions means the coaching staff are likely grooming him for a starting XI spot soon.
Further down the line, left-back Mads Petersen (returning from loan) and fellow Dane Frederick Winther (due to arrive next Summer) might make this defensive line even stingier.
In = Steven Zuber (LW), Ragnar Ache (CF), Ajdin Hrustic (ATTM), Amin Younes (LW), Lucas Silva Melo (CB) Markus Schubert (GK)
Out = Mijat Gacinovic (ATTM), Gonçalo Paciência (CF), Lucas Torró (DM), Frederik Rønnow (GK), Nils Stendera (CM), Dejan Joveljic (CF), Jonathan de Guzmán (CM), Gelson Fernandes (DM)
Grade = 2-
It seems safe to assume that Fredi Bobic and Bruno Hübner didn’t get every player they wanted in this transfer window. It may even be the case that they didn’t offload as many of ancillaries as they wished when Schalke came repeatedly calling. The Danny da Costa shift probably should have been completed.
Erik Durm, Jetro Willems, Djibril Sow, and Aymen Barkok are other names that should have also been moved. At 30 players, the SGE roster remains a shade too large for a team not competing in Europe. The sporting directors were still able to find loan destinations for Nils Stendera, Rodrigo Salazar and Dejan Joveljic. That certainly counts for something.
The Academy Class
A 30-player roster also comes courtesy of what some could argue are pre-mature call ups from the reserve squad. Lukas Fahrnberger, Jabez Makanda, Yannick Brugger, Flynn Otto seem odd choices for a squad that still needs to test drive the returning Lucas Silva Melo (“Tuta”) and young Marijan Cavar.
One the other hand, the released of Gelson Fernandes and Jonathan de Guzman do give the SGE a little wiggle room to experiment. The competition for Fernandes’ role in particular should be as wide open as possible. One wishes this team had a few more fixtures on the schedule to afford the youngsters a trial run.
We shall see. Given Bobic’s track record with cultivating young talent (Joshua Kimmich and Timo Werner to name two from his time with Stuttgart) one should likely accord him the benefit of the doubt.
Two lesser straight swaps
Bobic and Hübner certainly like trade deals. We’ll get into to the summer’s blockbuster in a moment. First, an honest appraisal of the Mijat Gacinovic-Steven Zuber reciprocal transfer has one feeling that the swap served as a fine result for both sides.
The Frederick Rønnow-Markus Schubert loan interchange leaves one scratching one’s head a bit. If the ostensible purpose was to increase Rønnow’s value by sending him to a club where he can play ever week, then why send him to a club where he’s likely to get pummeled on a weekly basis?
Presumably the SGE had no choice but to accept Schubert as Schalke needed to clear the roster. There only redeeming aspect of that pick up concerns the fact that the former Schalke keeper cannot possibly make as many mistakes as he did last season.
What shall we call this one?
Onwards to the Ante Rebic-André Silva switch. This truly should truly be regarded as a well-executed piece of transfer business, even if some of the motives were underhanded. In any event, the Bas Dost André Silva striking partnership has matured by leaps and bounds. Both have scored twice already this season.
The vertical axis pairing of pivot defender Makoto Hasebe and Daichi Kamada also looks set up for a fantastic season. In Kamada, the attacking duo of Dost and Silva should soon receive even better distributive assistance. Kamada’s improvement raises another question.
If Sebastian Haller, Lukla Jovic, and Ante Rebic were known as the “Buffalo Herd” and the Paciencia-Dost-Silva axis earned the moniker “The Crocodiles”, what will the new trio be called?
It’s possible that this trio may even evolve into a quartet. Ragnar Ache, procured from Sparta Rotterdam last winter but only just arrived, will get his looks in as well. One trusts that either the Rundschau or the FAZ have their sports writers working on a new wily nickname as we speak.
-1. FC Köln
-Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Naturally, some clubs couldn’t help but furnish average windows. The biggest surprise here concerns the inclusion of both RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen. Two UCL-level sides on the bubble couldn’t manage to get the administrative sides of their game sorted out.
In = Waldemar Anton (CB), Gregor Kobel (GK), Pascal Stenzel (RB), Konstantinos Mavropanos (CB), Momo Cissé (RW), Naoirou Ahamada (CM), Erik Thommy (CM), Wataru Endo (DM)
Out = Anastasios Donis (CF), Chadrac Akolo (LW), Mario Gomez (LS), Holger Badstüber (CB)
Grade = 3+
Thomas Hitzlsperger & Co appear to have done just enough to strengthen this squad suitably enough to hold a place in the league. The COVID revenue shortfalls likely hurt a large club poised to re-enter the league like this one more than most. There surely existed plans to do more with the large gate receipts that the Mercedes-Benz Arena could bring.
All told, the administrative team did admirable work in purchasing their successful loan contractees. Wataru Endo, Pascal Stenzel, and Gregor Kobel all needed to stay. A successful play for Maximilian Philipp would have been nice, but the club should still remain okay without him
The defensive implications of the Anton signing
Considering the type of money Hannover 96 wanted for defender Waldemar Anton last summer, die Schwaben certainly got him on the cheap this time. High as a reported €4 million fee may have been high this time around, the club couldn’t do without a top-tier veteran defender in their return to the top flight.
As head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo’s early tactics demonstrate, he doesn’t necessarily have to quarterback the defensive ranks. That role can fall to Endo. New addition Konstantinos Mavropanos can also shift inward, as can ever-reliable center-backs Marc-Over Kempf and Marcin Kaminiski.
Using all of these tools, Matarazzo should be able to continue to build unpredictable rotating back-threes. This will go a long way toward to keeping his attack humming whilst also ensuring that the team isn’t too vulnerable.
Farewell to two more heroes
The summer of 2020 didn’t just feature the retirement of André Schürrle and and protracted speculation over whether Mario Götze would be able to find a new team. The Nationalmannschaft’s other “Super Mario” also called it quits after a storied 20-year-professional football career.
The now 35-year-old Mario Gomez hung up his cleats back where he started, declining to play another top-tier Bundesliga season following three years with Stuttgart. German national team defender Holger Badstuber, for whatever reason, wishes to play on even though he was demoted to the VfB reserves earlier this summer.
This has truly been a summer of generational shifts for German football. Both Gomez and Badstuber were regular contributors to the national XI, even if injuries precluded both from being on the celebrated 2014 squad that took the World Championship.
Life goes on in both Dortmund and Stuttgart.
1. FC Köln
In = Ondrej Duda (ATTM), Sebastian Andersson (CF) Dimitrios Limnios (RW), Marius Wolf (RW), Jannes Horn (LB), Frederick Sørensen (CB), Salih Özcan (CM)
Out = Jhon Cordoba (CF), Simon Terodde (LS), Brady Scott (GK), Louis Schaub (ATTM), Lasse Sobiech (CB), Kingsley Schindler (RW), Birger Verstraete (DM), Mark Uth (LS), Toni Leistner (CB)
Grade = 3,5
A disastrous start to the season hasn’t, as of yet, led anyone in the Cathedral City pressing the panic button. One reason for this concerns the fact that Markus Gisdol does actually have a decent transfer class to work with.
Very little went as planned for die Geißböcke in between the campaigns. A failed medical for Streli Mamba. A delay in getting Dimitrios Limnios into country after a positive COVID test. Botched bids for Robin Hack and Marco Richter.
It seemed as if whatever could go wrong did for die Geißböcke. Despite many administrative missteps, the talent level on the squad ekes a bit higher.
Offloading the mistakes of the Beierlorzer Era
Birger Verstratete and Kingsley Schindler not having performed as hoped, finding ways of the roster for two of last summer’s purchases had to take precedence. Sporting director Horst Heldt might have done better than secure loan deals for both them and the likes of Lasse Sobiech, Louis Schaub, and Marcel Riise.
Though all of those players could have been potentially transformed in liquid capital, merely getting them off the league’s largest current roster surely provided some payroll relief. Heldt still missed a chance to attain about €6 million in assets. Frederick Sørensen and Salih Özcan could have been sold as well.
An opportunity missed with Leistner and Uth
The spry Elvis Rexhbecaj remains with the club courtesy of a year-long loan arrangement worked out with VfL Wolfsburg last January. Unfortunately, Toni Leistner and home-town striker Mark Uth had to depart on short-term arrangements.
A greater effort should have been made, particularly in the case of Uth, who absolutely did want to return to Schalke. He would have cost less than half the combined total of Limnios, Ondrej Duda, and Sebastian Andersson.
Finite patience with the new arrivals
On the topic of the attacking additions, that trio should be good for greater or equal goal-production numbers that those of the departed Jhon Cordoba. Selling the 27-year-old Columbia was definitely the right move. An possibly aberrant form uptick in the second half of last year’s campaign left him overvalued. It was the right time to cash in.
Gisdol still hasn’t presented the basics of a workable system, however. An Andersson-led attack needs to be properly buttressed by some flank support and the Kölner coach hasn’t figured out his offensive strategy any better than he has the personnel matters on his back line.
Some patience is merited. One guesses another five or six rounds worth should be sufficient to see if the coach can put something workable together.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen
In = Patrik Schick (CF), Santiago Arias (RB), Lennart Grill (GK), Andreas Poulsen (LB), Tin Jedvaj (CB)
Out = Kai Havertz (ATTM), Kevin Volland (LS), Adrian Stanilewicz (DM), Joel Pohjanpalo (CF), Panagiotos Retsos (CB)
Grade = 3-
The “burning question” as to whether Leipzig or Leverkusen shall regress this season will become clearer in the coming weeks, but it now appears both sides will defer their larger purchases until the New Year. The unsuccessful late swoop for Bremen’s Milot Rashica shows just urgent the need for reliable goal-scorers has become at Rudi Völler’s German red company team.
Virtually all of the late negotiations were poorly handled here. This team maintains a surfeit of sharp puzzle pieces that may not necessarily fit together very well. Questions abound.
What if something happens to Schick?
Then Peter Bosz frankly finds himself out of options. Lucas Alario dipped hard in form over the second half of last season and has not looked good in this young campaign. All other attackers play better on the outside channels.
The Leverkusen trainer commands all of the assistance he needs in the wide lanes, yet doesn’t have a tall target center-forward to play the ball in to. Such a deficiency can quickly turn into a monster weakness for a team built on long build up play with short passes.
Can Charles Aranguiz continue to run the midfield by himself?
Possibly. Or one of the center-halves can move up to help him. It would count as something of a waste to play Florian Wirtz or Kerem Demirbay that far back. Throwing Julian Baumgartlinger into the mix slowed down play too much last season and Exeqiuel Palacios hasn’t had enough practice with the veteran to partner.
It seems unlikely that Jonathan Tah, Wendell, or Mitchell Weiser would take well to a centralized forward deployment; not after they were all publicly five-and-dimed for potential moves. After the front office fell short on completing those deals, players who have no chance of displacing Edmond Tapsoba and Sven Bender at center back suddenly have nowhere to go.
Bosz finds himself short of options on both ends of the field. Troubling times could be ahead.
In = Alexander Sørloth (LS), Hwang Hee-Chan (CF), Lazar Samardzic (ATTM), Benjamin Henrichs (RB), Justin Kluivert (LW)
Out = Timo Werner (LS), Ademola Lookman (LW), Hannes Wolf (CF), Ethan Ampadu (CB), Patrik Schick (CF), Jean-Kevin Augustin (CF)
Grade = 3-
The late addition of AS Roma’s Justin Kluivert certainly helps matters, though the earlier loan of Ademola Lookman does its part to offsetting Julian Naglesmann’s quest to replace Timo Werner’s 60 “scorer points”. The laser-like focus on rebuilding its left-sided attacking lanes seemed to escape this club over the course of the window.
Not unlike what one observes from Leverkusen, a collection of top-quality footballers prepare to take to the pitch absent demonstrated talent in certain areas. Leipzig’s roster contains more natural skill, though the administrative moves of recent weeks do carry with them more conspicuous hubris.
Nagelsmann must re-fashion an attack out of three centralized target forwards: Alexander Sørloth, Hwang Hee-Chan, and Yussuf Poulsen. We might behold a considerably less entertaining squad until he figures a way of sorting this out.
Hwang the linchpin
In principle, the RB trainer could bunch all three of his strikers up around the box and leave the leftward buttressing to either Kluivert or Emil Forsberg. Such a constellation looks dangerous on paper, but will probably be too impractical on the pitch.
Hwang’s mobility make him the most important of all the new additions. League observers should keep a close eye on the 24-year-old South Korean international as Nagelsmann moves him around.
Next to Forsberg and Christopher Nkunku, the RB Salzburg recruit shines as die roten Bullen’s best early season performer.
Another top-table finish by Christmas?
Last year’s “Herbstmeister” (“autumn champion”) currently sits atop the Bundesliga table. This remains largely by virtue of a soft early schedule, however. Better opponents and a very tough UCL group appear on the immediate horizon.
If Emil Forsberg can maintain his current form the whole issue of how to replace Werner may fade into irrelevance. Somehow one just doesn’t see it shaking out that way.
Expect some stumbles and perhaps even tactical debates surrounding Nagelsmann as the young coach endeavors to construct something out of an unevenly distributed roster.
Two organizations headed in different directions comprise the fourth section. The German wolves may succeed in spite of their mistake-laden window. By contrast, Bielefeld may be headed straight back down again.
In = Ridle Baku (RB), Bartosz Bialek (CF), Maxence Lacroix (CB), Maximilian Philipp (AM) Yunus Malli (ATTM), Jeffrey Bruma (CB)
Out = Marcel Tisserand (CB), Robin Knoche (CB), John Yeboah (LW), Ignacio Camacho (DM)
Grade = 4+
Germany’s green company team cannot be accused of being too passive in the pursuit of its wants. All three of the major deals fill a specific need. Sporting director Jörg Schmadtke maintains his keen eye for talent and undeniably knows how to build a squad.
In what seems to be a chronic issue with Schmadtke and his administrative apparatus, however, the unused burdens on the roster never seem to be properly handled. Such congenital problems persist for the third straight window.
The German Wolves once again get their additions right, but their subtractions wrong.
Places for Malli and Bruma
Oliver Glasner enters the season with too many midfielders and defenders on his roster. The case being long obvious, more industry could have been employed in either selling or re-loaning returning players Yunus Malli and Jeffrey Bruma.
Bruma’s case admittedly wasn’t easy considering Mainz showed no interest in retaining him. Schmadtke & Co. might have still done a bit better that simply telling him to find a new club. There exist enough resources in a front office to generate some options for a player.
Malli could have fetched at least €1 million from Union Berlin. The player that Union did ultimately snag from Wolfsburg, Robin Knoche, maintained worth almost seven times that amount.
The VfL irresponsibly allowed Knoche’s contract to expire, enabling him to leave uncompensated on a free. A similar situation involving Yannick Gerhardt threatens to occur this coming summer.
The Baku, Philipp, and Yeboah deals
We again return to the subject of addition vs. subtraction. The club effectively caved on the Ridle Baku transfer, forking over the full €10 million. Maximilian Philipp cost a reported €2.5 million in loan fees. Add to that the fact that Maxence Lacroix and Batosz Bialek commanded a price of €5 million a piece and one sees that Schmadtke overpaid for all of his acquisitions.
Detailed on John Yeboah’s sale aren’t available for the likely reason that the final transaction amount stood far too small to warrant reporting. Considering that the Dutch club lobbied hard to permanently obtain their loan prospect, it seems reasonable that a newsworthy seven-figure sum could have been attained.
Camacho says “basta”
Big talk on behalf of coaches or administrators can adversely affect a transfer window scorecard sometimes. To publicly declare that one has several deals in the works, yet complete none of them illustrates that a certain amount of managerial vigor lacks in the team’s administration.
This club breaks even in terms of transfer inlays/outlays almost coincidentally. The estimated €11 million in transfer expenditures gets offset by former captain Ignacio Camacho’s retirement.
Die Wölfe cash in on Camacho’s insurance policy. In a total fluke, it happens to be near the €11 million mark. One could say that die Wölfe completed a serviceable window, but in truth some blind luck simply covered a bunch of poorly managed transactions.
In = Arne Maier (DM), Ritus Doan (RW), Mike van der Hoorn (CB), Natahn de Medina (RW), Jacob Barrett Laursen (LB), Sergio Cordova (CF), Christian Gebauer (RW)
Out = Jonathan Clauss (RB), Patrick Weihrauch (ATTM), Florian Hartherz (LB), Prince Osei Owusu (CF)
Grade = 4,5
A club with a diminutive budget and millions in lost projected gate receipts can only hope to accomplish so much. Free transfers offer the most hope for newly restructured contracts. Loans are often even out of the question as the receiving club must sometimes absorb the player’s full salary.
One assumes that trainer Uwe Neuhaus and the Bielefeld board, doubtless aware of the circumstances facing newly promoted clubs, will at the very least be able to make payroll with this team. Arminia has dealt with more promotion seasons than any other German football organization over the last quarter of a century.
Its a respectable transfer class; albeit one visibly skewed to the defensive side of things.
Doan and Maier arrive for upgrades
Two loan deals give die Arminnen a fighting chance at a league hold. The combined worth of PSV Eindhoven’s Ritsu Doan and Hertha’s Arne Maier top €20 million. The versatile Japanese international hasn’t gotten off to the most fiery of starts, but this is in large part due to the fact that Neuhaus hasn’t quite figured out where to place him.
Maier’s arrival should see the 21-year-old take up the anchoring position in the coach’s 4-5-1. Unsurprisingly enough, a back-heavy club opts for a pocketing strategy in what promises to be a tough relegation fight.
Unclear uses for other new acquisitions
Center-back Mike van der Hoorn remains the only new addition to earn regular starts. Neuhaus appears more or less satisfied with his back four. This naturally raises the question as to why fullbacks Jacob Barrett Luarsen and Jonathan Medina were procured.
New attacker Sergio Cordova started all three league fixtures on the wings. After a strong debut in the opening round against Frankfurt, the Venezuelan largely looks lost in an almost non-existent attack.
Neuhaus faces a great deal more work in getting some of the potential-laden players integrated into the side
How far can this team go without a dependable goal-scorer?
Therein lies the debilitating problem with this team, touched upon briefly in the most recent tactics column. Fabian Klos, anonymous in his lone deployment up top thus far, still awaits his first top flight goal after 11 seasons in German professional football.
Neuhaus hasn’t even dared to trot out Sven Schipplock or Andreas Voglshammer yet. The latter hasn’t scored in the first division either while the former may be on his last legs.
As uselessly hackneyed as such a statement sounds, one cannot survive in any football league without scoring. This team faces the most basic of all problems. The fact that there are three more bad teams to discuss may remain their one saving grace.
-FC Schalke 04
All alone on the fifth level, we have the club likely to supply the most headlines over the course of the season. One of Germany’s great historic teams appears headed for the abyss. Only a few glimmers of hope remain for die Knappen.
FC Schalke 04
In = Gonçalo Paciencia (ATTM), Vedad Ibisevic (LS), Frederick Rønnow (GK), Killian Ludewig (RB), Steven Skrzybski (RW), Mark Uth (LS), Nabil Bentaleb (AM), Ralph Fährmann (GK)
Out = Weston McKennie (CM), Alexander Nübel (GK), Sebastian Rudy (DM), Daniel Caligiuri (CM), Bernard Tekpetey (ATTM), Guido Burgstaller (CF), Markus Schubert (GK), Johnjoe Kenny (RB), Michael Gregoritsch (AM), Jean-Clair Tobido (CB), Juan Miranda (LB)
Grade = 5-
Bulinews content already features a full enumerated list of all the Schalke players unhappy to currently be with the club. There remains zero point in mincing words. This window proved a complete disaster for the Königsblauen.
Two late moves, along with two clubs who frankly did even worse, keep them just above the bottom grading level. The last ditch efforts at quick fixes shall probably be insufficient to save this club from the drop zone.
At least one player whom could have been kept
The club falls back on its financial duress to explain why there could no impetus to purchase right back Johnjoe Kenny, center half Jean-Clair Tobido or let back Juan Miranda. All of these high-value defenders belonged to major clubs. Understandable. Neither of the Barça backs did particularly well last season anyway.
It seemed a bit odd that die Knappen seemed eager to re-loan Ghanian attacker Bernard Tekpetey, who had some chemistry with fellow Fortuna Düsselforf returnee Steven Skrzybski. One always knew that the Schalke defensive ranks would be a complete mess. The club managed to leave itself completely devoid of options in the attacking third.
Neither Tekpetey nor Cedric Teuchert should have been re-loaned out so quickly. A wide range of options needed to be maintained for the assault.
The McKennie Loan
More than perhaps any other player, flexible American midfielder Weston McKennie possessed the potential to server as the centerpiece of a Schalke rebuild. The move works well for the player, but now it appears doubtful that the 22-year-old will want to return to a club with no future.
A reported €4.5 million loan fee doesn’t help the club’s barren coffers much. Gonçalo Paciencia and Vedad Ibisevic enjoy almost no midfield support. The two newly-acquired strikers now appear left without a chance.
Two desperately needed late deals
As noted above, the mangers were able to get their act together late on. The squad didn’t even have a semi-stable keeper until director Jochen Schneider and Alexander Jobst engineered the Frederick Rønnow swap with Frankfurt.
In Kilian Ludewig, they at a bare minimum have a legitimate option at right back. The 20-year-old isn’t anywhere near the type of threat Kenny was on the flanks, but he’ll perform better than converted DM Sebastian Rudy.
Apropos Rudy, it’s a pity an outright sale couldn’t be arranged for his return to Hoffenheim.
-FSV Mainz 05
-SV Werder Bremen
Finally we arrive at the bottom. Matters must turn around at both of these clubs immediately. Bremen are deemed to have had the league’s worst window. Even though the Werderaner have won two of their three fixtures and currently occupy place seven in the table, a critical loss threatens to send them tumbling back down again.
FSV Mainz 05
In = Luca Kilian (CB), Dimitri Lavalee (CB), Kevin Stöger (ATTM)
Out = Ridle Baku (RB), Taiwo Awoniyi (CF), Jonathan Meier (LB), Jeffrey Bruma (CB), Florian Müller (GK), Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel (RB)
Grade = 6
Rouven Schröder offered up the bait. The Mainz sporting director certainly deserves credit for doing so. The deals didn’t come. Its impossible to know whether the lack of activity came from the no one taking the bait or the lure not being placed properly.
Overextended metaphors aside, Schröder must accept responsibility for the tire fire that his club suddenly turned into. The treatment of Adam Szalai kick started everything. Its highly likely that the shift in focus to the team’s revolt rendered it impossible to conclude any more business.
How the Ridle Baku sale hurts the team
Of all the five players the Pfälzer wished to sell, they lost their one local product in shipping out the 22-year-old. Fans appreciate the homegrown players even more than the imports to bring success with them.
The club opted to treat one of its most successful players, Adam Szalai, like refuse. Now they’ve sold a popular player born and raised in the area. Fans recently returned to the Opel Arena for the first time in five months to watch their team barely come to play.
A horrible situation becomes still more exacerbated.
Can Kevin Stöger supply anything?
The 27-year-old Austrian midfielder actually counts as a fairly solid pick up. He collected five assists last seasons in 17 appearances at Fortuna Düsseldorf. All of his actual goalscoring, save one tally in 2018, came in five seasons playing for second division clubs.
Anyone capable of running some midfield distribution at this beleaguered club servers as upgrade of some sort.
SV Werder Bremen
In = Felix Agu (LB), Oscar Schönfelder (LW), Patrick Erras (DM), Tahith Chong (RW), Jean Manuel Mbom (RW)
Out = Davy Klaassen (CM), Nuri Sahin (DM), Fin Bartels (AM), Martin Harnik (RW), Benjamin Goller (RW), Johannes Eggestein (CM), Claudio Pizzaro (CF), Sebastian Langkamp (CB), Philipp Bargfreude (DM), Michael Lang (RW), Kevin Vogt (CB)
Grade = 6
A turbulent final few days marked the end of another shoddy window for the troubled Hanseaten. Unable to move disaffected winger Milot Rashica in the closing hours, the club also had zero time to find a replacement for starting midfielder Davy Klaassen after selling him to Ajax.
Bremen sporting CEO Frank Baumann claims that, even it if there had been more time, the club had insufficient capital to procure another player. Irrespective of whatever excuses the executives wish to invoke, more problems loom for this organization.
The Bittencourt and Toprak purchaes
Klaasen’s sale netted the SV approximately €11 million in immediate fees. In a curious coincidence, this also happens to be the exact sum that Baumann spent to retain loanees Leonardo Bittencourt and Ömer Toprak on July 15th.
The rush to sign both of these players amounted to an early exorbitant spending spree; quite unnecessary for a club that had nearly three months to scout and sign players. Tying up so much capital so early ended up hamstringing the board.
Who will actually replace Klaassen?
No one. Head coach Florian Kohfeldt must make do with Maximilian Eggestein alone in midfield. The only other option constitutes something of a stretch. Patrick Erras experienced a rough go in the Pokal.
A five-back-set leaves practically leaves the entire midfield empty. Kohfeldt simply doesn’t possess another central midfielder. One expects some further flaky constructs will lead to more lopsided defeats.
Can a healthy Niclas Füllkrug help keep the team afloat?
That potentially provides a more positive note to end on. Had he not been injured last year, the former Bremen youth academy product should have been good for seven to ten more goals. The 27-year-old proved himself capable of stringing together 14 goal seasons at Nürnberg and Hannover.
Werder dealt with a whole slew of injuries last season, but the absence of Füllkrug aversely affected the adversely perhaps more so than any other. Already riding high off his week two hat trick, the Werderaner can likely count on a stellar comeback campaign from him.
Whether or not anyone will be left to serve him remains a different matter entirely. Füllkrug’s affectionate nickname, “Lücke” or (‘gap’) refers to his teeth. Currently the name applies to a crucial third of the Bremen pitch. There’s an enormous gap in the midfield.
Revised Mid-season Table Projection
Matters shall be decided on the pitch soon enough. We’ll nevertheless see what the latest developments might mean for the mid-season table. An initial projection from this writer lies at the end of the initial tactics column.
With neither Leipzig nor Leverkusen truly doing enough to shore up their squads, Hoffenheim sits well poised to step up and fill the void. Hertha, Frankfurt, and Augsburg all posses momentum with which to carry forward.
Wolfsburg makes up some of the early season points deficit, but only climb so high. Freiburg, Union, and Stuttgart go from upset victories to convincing losses. Köln and Schalke recover somewhat, but remain in the relegation race.
Bielefeld and Bremen sink whilst Mainz continues to struggle getting a grip.
- FC Bayern München
- Borussia Dortmund
- TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
- Borussia Mönchengladbach
- RasenBallSport Leipzig
- Bayer 04 Leverkusen
- Hertha BSC
- Eintracht Frankfurt
- FC Augsburg
- VfL Wolfsburg
- SC Freiburg
- FC Union Berlin
- VfB Stuttgart
- FC Köln
- FC Schalke 04
- SV Werder Bremen
- Arminia Bielefeld
- FSV Mainz 05