Monday, the start of a professional week is often dreaded by a good section of working professionals and students all over the world. But this was one Monday that was eagerly awaited by most, as September the 2nd was also ‘D-Day’ for the summer transfer window to slam shut. This means that, once the day ends, clubs have to make do with whatever players they have for half a season ( 17 games, including domestic and international cup games) before they can revamp their roster in the winter. The Bundesliga as compared to the rest of the continent has had a rather laid back day with a minimum number of transfers taking place on deadline day. But German clubs have had a busy summer to say the least. Bayern, Dortmund, Leverkusen and Schalke have all qualified for the group stages of the Champions League and needless to say have splashed around money to boost their respective squads. The rest of the league, including the likes of Stuttgart, Hoffenheim , Wolfsburg and Bremen, who had disappointing campaigns last time around, have dug deep into their pockets to attract the top talents to ply their trade in the Bundesliga. The Hard Tackle looks at the top five buys in the German top flight.
1) Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
“How does he do it?” is a question on most tongues when it comes to Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp’s transfer dealings. Back in 2008, Klopp took over a Dortmund side that was struggling to compete in the Bundesliga. He quickly transformed the side by applying his astute methods and by bringing in lesser known talents; a strategy he has maintained from that point onwards. The losses of Nuri Sahin & Shinji Kagawa, after winning back to back titles, hardly made a dent in Klopp’s progress as he brought in Marco Reus to partner young talent Mario Gotze. With the latter moving to Bayern and Lewandowski linked with the treble winners, there were plenty who said that the era of Dortmund was coming to a close. But true to his reputation, Klopp has once again pulled players out of his magic hat: Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have been recruited not just to fill the hole left by the departures, but also to add quality & depth to his side.
Nick named ‘The Spiderman’ , Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang announced himself with a hattrick in his very first league game against Augsburg. Capable of playing anywhere on the front-line, he brings in blistering pace and a good positioning sense to the side’s attacking front. With a 79% passing accuracy in 4 games, the forward has shown his tendency to bring in others into the game as well. Used mostly on the wings until now, Aubameyang has yet to show his skills in leading an attack, but his recent displays on the pitch suggest he can fill in the shoes of Lewandowski next season.
At 25 million euros, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the most expensive player in Dortmund’s history, and his recent performances indicate Klopp has definitely invested well. The ex-Shakhtar Donetsk man impressed everyone with his tactical brilliance on the pitch in the Champions League and in the Ukranian Premier League; he was the top scoring player in the latter with 25 goals. He might not be in the same mould as Mario Gotze, but his technical ability to read the game and produce that telling pass does make him an able substitute to the departed German international. In the 3 games he’s played so far, the Armenian attacker has 2 goals, and has played a part in 3 other Dortmund goals. The protégé Gotze might be gone, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looked to have made Dortmund even more lethal this season.
2) Kevin-Prince Boateng
It seems almost like a coup for the Blue side of the Ruhr valley, as AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, known simply as Prince, made his move to Germany after having spent 3 years in Milan. He might not be a jaw dropping dribbler of the football or have extreme pace to thrill his audience, but what he brings to any side is 100% commitment on the field coupled with bucket-loads of energy. Schalke had made a dreadful start to the season before his arrival and were looking to avoid further humiliation at the hands of a rampant Leverkusen side last weekend. Thrown immediately into the fray upon his arrival, Boateng showed just why Schalke had pulled of one of the best signings in the Bundesliga with a display that suggested he never left the league back in 2009. Slotted in the attacking midfield role, Boateng looked quite comfortable in his role of creator-in-chief, picking out runs by his teammates and effectively controlling the midfield with some excellent tackling. With Schalke being drawn in a tough group in the Champions League and having made an unconvincing start to the league campaign, Boateng’s influence in midfield could define their season.
3) Cédric Makiadi
The Congo international midfielder Cédric Makiadi made a bold move to the north west of Germany after being a key component in the SC Freiburg side that took the league by storm with a 5th place finish and a semi-final appearance in the DFB Pokal. With Freiburg qualifying for the Europa League, it came as a surprise as the midfield linchpin opted to move to Werder Bremen.
Known to bring a physical edge to the game, Makiadi played 29 games for Freiburg last season, averaging an excellent 80 % passing accuracy. But it is his ball winning abilities that Werder Bremen, and manager Robin Dutt, will be looking forward to: he boasted a 70% success rate in lunging tackles last season. Bremen endured an awful 2012-2013, finishing 14th, only 3 points above the relegation playoff position. They will be delighted to have added some much need steel to their midfield.
The focal point of a lot of transfer controversy in Germany, the young German International Mario Götze moved from Dortmund to Bayern Munich for a staggering figure of €37 million making him the most expensive transfer in the Bundesliga for the summer. Back when the transfer was announced, many eyed the movement with skepticism, with whispered rumors that Bayern were acquiring the young German only to weaken their rivals. Götze was a key member of Klopp’s Dortmund that won back-to-back titles and reached the finals of the Champions league last season. Götze is a complete central attacking midfielder, with attributes ranging from vision for picking out his colleagues, playing key passes, dribbling and even exploiting dead ball situations. Pep Guardiola, Bayern’s new manager, brings with him a unique brand of football. He has used a 4-1-4-1 formation that not only utilizes the side’s excellent wing-play ability, but also gives a lot of liberty to the central midfielders to move into more attacking positions. Even though the young midfielder is yet to mesmerize the patrons at the Allianz Arena, his ball playing skills looks to be tailor-made to suit Guardiola’s system; a system that involves a fair percentage of attacks propagating from the middle of the park.
The gap left by the departure of André Schürrle to Chelsea has been quickly filled by Leverkusen as they quickly moved to replace him with a very much like-to-like player: South Korean Son Heung-Min. Son caught the attention of fans in Germany with his impressive showings for Hamburg last season and reaped his reward immediately with a move to a club that can promise him Champions League football. Leverkusen finished 3rd last season and would have loathed to lose out on Schürrle. The German International alongside Kießling and Castro/Sam formed one of the most lethal attacking front-lines in the Bundesliga last season, with the former contributing to 11 goals and creating 40 chances from the wings. Son played a similar role for Hamburg on the wings, scoring 12 goals and creating 25 chances. Much of his efforts coming from his ability to dribble past opposing full backs and cutting across to score. His spectacular goal against Dortmund, cutting in from the wings and shooting from a tight angle, will be fondly remembered by Hamburg fans. This season, Son has made 4 appearances for Leverkusen scoring one goal and boasting a passing accuracy of 83%. Sami Hyypiä seems to have spent his money wisely as Son seems to be the ideal partner in crime to goal machine Stefan Kießling.
- Anthony Modeste (Striker: FC Bordeaux to Hoffenheim)
- Gelson Tavares Fernandes (Midfielder: Sporting Lisbon to SC Freiburg)
- Luiz Gustavo (Midfielder: Bayern Munich to Wolfsburg)
- Max Kruse (Striker: SC Freiburg to Gladbach)