The Premier league holds somewhat of a special place within Europe. It’s aura of a fast paced style and competitive challenge attracts players from all over the globe. This season is no different when the league has imported fresh faces from several different leagues, sixteen by my count. Drogba, Costa, Fabregas, Sanchez and Can are among some of the big signings that have made the switch to the ‘best league in the world’. The influx of foreign players is a positive impact on the league but also arguably has a detrimental effect on English football and its standing. However that avenue is not what I would like to venture down. Instead I want to explore the success of foreign footballers in England, particularly those from Deutschland writes Ben Taylor.
Last season several professional footballers from Germany had new English outfits to call their own. Luuk De Jong and William Kvist were summoned on loan to respective clubs, but neither really provided anything to shout about. Twenty three year old De Jong was only cover but his 12 appearances were all in dark times for the Magpies. Yes, he was uninspiring in his short spell at Newcastle but with few appearances and the team in bad form, there isn’t a whole lot De Jong could’ve done. More time in better circumstances and the Dutchman could’ve flown at Tyneside. As for Kvist, Felix Magath threw him in at the deep end from the offset and despite not playing badly Kvist was just another piece in the Fulham Jigsaw that was pounded last season.
Dong-Won Ji, formerly of FC Augsburg checked in at the opening three games for Sunderland but soon decamped to Germany once again. Meanwhile Marko Arnautovic was bright at Stoke. 48 chances created in thirty games was modestly impressive for Mark Hughes’ side as he transformed The Potters’ style of play. The other two Premier League bound Bundesliga players came in the form of Andre Schurrle and Kevin De Bruyne. Both impressing at former teams, they were introduced to Chelsea. However from there onwards they took completely different paths. De Bruyne made 3 appearances getting himself 1 assist before moving back to a more familiar territory in Germany. The failure of his return to Chelsea seems to derive from Mourinho’s comments about his training. On the other hand Schurrle was handed 30 appearances in his debut season.
Apart from the success of Andre Schurrle, the Bundesliga players didn’t really rub shoulders with the big boys in the Premiership. The reasons behind this vary. The Belgian, Kevin De Bruyne honestly looked promising in his snapshot on the big stage. His debut against Hull City was capped off with an assist but with the pressure on Mourinho to find glory, the manager had little time to allow De Bruyne to settle down and develop if it cost him some poor performances. Therefore in theory, if De Bruyne had impressed in training he could’ve potentially played, but that didn’t happen and he soon became driftwood after a challenging and frustrating time in London. For De Jong and Kvist they were effectively handed tough deals. Both Fulham and Newcastle struggled in the second half of the campaign and to presume they could arrive at the end of January, settle in and adjust to a new country and then perform well enough to shine based on a handful of appearances was ludicrous. They aren’t bad players; it just didn’t work out. Despite the Bundesliga being one of the more similar league’s to the Premiership, the players don’t seem to adapt as well as those from Spain or Italy. Shinji Kagawa who was outstandingly brilliant under Klopp is still searching for his magic feet in Manchester.
Others such as Lewis Holtby are conjointly waiting for the opportunities to wow the Nation. Edin Dzeko, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Per Mertersacker all took time to adjust yet they stand as testament to how Bundesliga to Premiership transfers can prosper and reap the rewards with time.
The relative failure of many of last year’s deals raises the question; is it worth it? Should Bundesliga players really leave a developing competitive league to only sit on the sidelines or for some cases get the plane straight back again? Sebastien Pocognoli, Emre Can and Mame Diouf are the seemingly fortunate three that make the ‘big leap’ across the channel. They impressed in Germany, but the stats suggest unless they are given time to flourish, they could soon become the unfortunate three.
Click on Ben’s name above to follow him on Twitter.