This 4-part feature presented by Ryan O’Grady will cover all the summer dealings by the teams of the Bundesliga. Part 1 will cover last season’s top four, Part 2 will see us cover places 5-8, Part 3 will cover 9-12 whilst part 4 will cover 13-16 as well as the two newly promoted sides, FC Köln and SC Paderborn.
FC Bayern Munich
To start off we’ll look at Robert Lewandowski, arguably the best signing across Europe this summer. To make it even better he was brought on a free transfer and came from last season’s closest rival Borussia Dortmund. Whilst the departing Mandzukic was certainly a very decent striker, Lewandowski will offer them more with his all round game as well as his finishing. Another good signing was 21-year old Juan Bernat from Valencia for £8.80 million; his versatility down the left hand side of the pitch could allow David Alaba to move into midfield, a role he already occupies with the Austrian national team. Bayern midfielder Javi Maritnez tore his ACL in the German Super Cup and that means that he is out for at least 6 months. His versatility has meant that Bayern have brought in two players to replace him, centre-back Mehdi Benatia for £23 million and Xabi Alonso for £8 million. Benatia was one of Roma’s best players last year and £23 million seems a very good price, teams such as Manchester City were quoted fees closer to £40 million. Alonso decided it was time for a new challenge after winning ‘La Decima’ (Tenth European Cup) with Real Madrid last year and it has been revealed that Pep Guardiola tried to sign him last year as well. Other signings include former Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina for £2.6 million, a move that is good for Bayern but doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense from Reina’s point of view, as Neuer is unlikely to be displaced. Also signed on a free this summer was Sebastian Rode who was an integral part of Eintracht Frankfurt’s midfield over the last few years and will provide cover for their midfield and could also play at right back. To round these arrivals off we have Sinan Kurt from Borussia Mönchengladbach. The 18-year old, who is one of Germany’s brightest young talents, moved to Bayern for just under £1 million despite protestations from the Gladbach hierarchy.
The main departure this summer was midfielder Toni Kroos who moved to Real Madrid for £26 million. This sale was due a couple of reasons, firstly Kroos’ contract would’ve run out at the end of this season and Bayern didn’t want to lose him for nothing. Also Kroos was offered a new contract but he demanded much higher wages and Bayern refused to pay him so much. Another significant departure is Mario Mandzukic who went to Atletico Madrid for £20 million. He scored 18 goals last year but never seemed to convince Guardiola that he couldfit into Bayern’s new system that I much more pass orientated. With 18 goals he came second in the goal scoring behind only one other person, Robert Lewandowski. Other notable departures include USA youngster Julian Green who signed for Hamburg on a one-year loan and Diego Contento who left for Girondins de Bordeaux.
A very good window for Bayern, signing one of the best strikers in the World for free and also making a profit in this window. Whilst there is no doubting Toni Kroos’s technical ability and he was an important part of Germany’s team at the World Cup, he has been found defensively on occasions, the Euro 2012 semi-final against Italy and the 2013/14 Champions’ League semi-final against his new club Real Madrid to name a couple, and there is no doubt that the combination of Benatia and Alonso will improve the side defensively.
This year Dortmund will want to close the gap to Bayern, last year’s gap of 20 points was actually an improvement on the previous season but still wasn’t good enough for manager Jürgen Klopp and the board so this summer they spent close to £50 million on new players. Obviously the departing Lewandowski had to be replaced and he was with two strikers, Ciro Immobile £17 million and Adrian Ramos for £8.5 million. Immobile is coming off the back of his best season in Italian football with Torino, he was Serie A top scorer with 22 goals and the Dortmund fans will be hoping he can replicate last year’s form. Adrian Ramos is a shrewd signing in that he is an already proven goalscorer in the Bundesliga, grabbing 16 last year for mid-table finishers Hertha Berlin. Injuries were a big problem for Dortmund last year and it is reasonable to suggest that this was the main reason that they didn’t run Bayern closer last year, they were especially thin at the back where Manuel Friedrich, a 34-year old who didn’t play for over a year had to be brought in as an emergency centre-back. To combat this they have brought in 20-year old Matthias Ginter from Freiburg for £8.8 million and he is someone with a very bright future, he already has a World Cup winner’s medal with Germany and Dortmund now have 4 top quality centre-backs in Mats Hummels, Neven Subotić, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Ginter. Other signings include Nuri Şahin’s loan from Real Madrid being made permanent and utility player Ji Dong-Won being brought in from FC Augsburg. Despite all these new faces the most popular signing by far was the return of Shinji Kagawa late in the window. He was a hero in his first spell in Dortmund winning the league in both of his two season with the club and in his last game before his move to Manchester United he helped Dortmund thrash Bayern 5-1 in the German Cup Final.
The obvious departure is the afore-mentioned Robert Lewandowski. A knock-on affect from the Kagawa deal has seen promising young winger Jonas Hofmann join Mainz 05 on a one year loan, during Dortmund’s injury crisis last season he came in and impressed greatly earning rave reviews. Another youngster out on loan is striker Marvin Ducksch who has gone to SC Paderborn and he has shown signs of real promise too. Julian Schieber has left permanently to move to Hertha BSC, his Dortmund career was a strange one, he seemed to move to BVB because of his performance against them in a 4-4 draw a few seasons ago but he failed to impress in his two seasons with the club.
A good window for Dortmund, their star player needed replaced and they replaced him and managed to add some more depth and quality around the pitch. Although Immobile has struggled in the first couple of games this season, given time he will settle in and improve and Ramos has already gotten onto the score sheet. The Kagawa move has provided a boost to all associated with the club and they will be hoping that they he can produce some of the football they saw in his first spell with the club.
FC Schalke 04
Sidney Sam is the main signing for Schalke this summer; the Germany international joined from Bayer Leverkusen for a bargain £2.2 million due to a clause in his contract. He will provide experience to a team full of talented youngsters and his pace and finishing, he scored 8 times last year, will help take some of the load off of star striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar’s shoulders. Another experienced player who has arrived is Dennis Aogo after the club decided to make his loan deal from Hamburg permanent, he will certainly be an important signing considering Sead Kolasinac is now out for 6 months with an ACL tear. For the last couple of seasons the goalkeeping position was something of a problem for Schalke but in the Rückrunde (second half of the season) Ralf Fährmann came to the fore establishing himself as a top quality goalkeeper but this still meant Schalke had no decent back up so they have signed Fortuna Düsseldorf keeper Fabian Giefer on a free transfer, whilst Lars Unnerstall, another keeper went the other way. Schalke’s youth academy is one of the best, if not the best, in Germany and as a result 4 players have been promoted from the U19 whilst one player was promoted from the second team. One player that everyone seems to be excited about is youngster Donis Avdijaj who was one of the foru promoted from the U19s.
The most expensive departure was Adam Szalai who moved to Hoffenheim for £5.28 million. He had a brilliant season with Mainz a couple of years ago earning himself a move to Schalke where he was unlucky that he was competing with a world class striker in Huntelaar although he did manage to score eight goals last year, including two crucial goals in their Champions League playoff win against PAOK Salonika of Greece. As mentioned earlier keeper Lars Unnerstall has left to move to Fortuna Düsseldorf. Also on the move was Kyriakos Papadopoulos who went on loan to Bayer Leverkusen, this is a very surprising move as Bayer Leverkusen are likely to challenge for the Champions League places alongside Schalke and when Papadopoulos was fit he was Schalke’s best defender for the last couple of seasons. Other moves included veteran keeper Timo Hildebrand being released and right-back Tim Hoogland moving to Fulham for free.
A solid window for Schalke, there have been no spectacular signings but they have added quality and experience to a side full of young talent with the likes of Draxler, Meyer and Goretzka. The Papadopoulos transfer is still a strange one though and in the long run it might come back to bite Schalke in their pursuit of Champions League football. Schalke’s season also depends on their coaching situation because Keller is still to convince many and it is well known that the Schalke board tried to hire Thomas Tuchel after he quit his job at Mainz.
There have been some really useful and promising arrivals this summer at the BayArena. Their most expensive was 20-year old Hakan Çalhanoğlu from Hamburg for £12.8 million. He was superb last year and it could be argued that he singlehandedly got Hamburg into the relegation playoff rather than automatic relegation. He will finally provide some of the creativity in the attacking midfield area that Leverkusen has been craving and in the first couple of games he has been one of the outstanding players in the team. Another youngster who has arrived is Josip Drmić whose 17 goals last year were unbelievable, especially when you consider he is only 21, it was his first season in the Bundesliga and his team, Nürnberg, were relegated. Also brought in was Brazilian left-back Wendell who will fill what was problem position for Leverkusen who repeatedly had to push centre backs out on the left side. As mentioned earlier in the Schalke section Papadopoulos has arrived from Schalke and if fit could easily start for Leverkusen as he is a talented player. Another interesting signing for Leverkusen is 18-year old Tin Jedvaj from Roma on a two-year loan; he has certainly shown promise already and against Herthe Berlin he scored an own goal before scoring at the other end. The signing of Vladlen Yurchenko from Shaktar Donetsk is certainly outside the box, he was on loan with Shaktar’s junior team but only made one appearance before joining Leverkusen on a two year deal although he seems to be rated highly and it will be very interesting to see how he does this season. Other signings include 30-year old keeper Dario Kresic, brought in to provide cover for Bernd Leno, and also 19-year old stiker Joel Pohjanpalo from HJK in Finland but he was sent immediately out on loan to Düsseldorf. Although he is not a new signing Karim Bellarabi has returned from a successful loan spell at Eintracht Braunschweig and he has started this season unbelievably well and he could be a huge asset to the side if he keeps it up.
Two significant departures for Leverkusen this summer, first the aforementioned Sidney Sam who moved to Schalke and secondly youngster Emre Can who moved to Liverpool for £10.5 million. He could be a very significant departure in the long run as he is one of Germany’s brightest talents and has been called the ‘new Ballack’ by some. Other departures include Philipp Wollscheid, who has gone to Mainz on loan after some average performances since his move from Nürnberg, Jens Hegeler, who has gone to Hertha, and Junior Fernándes who has moved to Dinamo Zagreb. In a somewhat surprising move the Leverkusen board have allowed right-back Danny da Costa to move to FC Ingolstadt permanently after he had shown promise in a loan spell at the same club
A very good window indeed for Bayer, they bought arguably the two top young talents in the Bundesliga from last season and have managed to sign a talented centre back in Papadopoulos from one of their closest rivals. The most important signing however could be new manager Roger Schmidt who has come in from Red Bull Salzburg and his philosophy of attacking football has already paid dividends in the first couple of matches.
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