We took a look at Serie A’s hot commodities yesterday. Today, we head to Germany. And if you’re curious about which players found success moving around and away from the Bundesliga last year, we also take a look back at how the biggest transfers have fared.
This spring, we’re already hearing plenty about players from Serie A, from La Liga, from Ligue 1, even from the Eredivisie and the Ukrainian Premier League, all set to leave their current clubs and move on to something better. Or more highly-paid, anyway. That’s always what the tabloids want us to believe.
But what we haven’t read much about is clubs outside Germany targeting Bundesliga players. Perhaps they haven’t got the memo that it’s the most entertaining league in the world, or maybe they just know that no one wants to leave the country once they’ve arrived. Cheap beer, trains that run on time and amazing atmospheres in the stadiums – what’s not to love?
That being said, there’s a few faces clubs are gazing upon, as well as a few others they should take care to notice. Oh, and never rule out Bayern Munich’s desire to collect any decent Bundesliga player.
Kevin De Bruyne
Best position (alternate positions): Central midfield (Wide midfield)
Teams in pursuit: Manchester City (England), Paris Saint-Germain (France)
Likely cost: $60 million
“Actual value:” $38 million
Less than a year ago, Chelsea sold De Bruyne to Wolfsburg for 25 million euros. Now should the Volkswagen-owned club, which has plenty of cash already available to spend, feel the need to let go of the Belgian, it’s hoping to more than double that figure. And why not? Wolfsburg knows De Bruyne is the main reason for its Champions League finish. He’s its puppet master, conducting, dropping deep, pulling defenders out of position, threading a perfect pass. He has 24 assists in all competitions, but he also has 15 goals to go along with them.
But the reason De Bruyne begged José Mourinho to let him leave Chelsea was because he no longer wanted to be on the bench. Manchester City’s money would most likely also come with plenty of time to play, but the same might not be said of PSG.
Best position: Central midfield
Teams in pursuit: Manchester United, Manchester United, Manchester United (England)
Likely cost: $33 million
“Actual value:” $22 million
Gündoğan was one of the pivotal players in Borussia Dortmund’s impressive 2012-13 season, even scoring the equalizer in his side’s eventual loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. Never before has there been such transfer chatter around the midfielder, however – although that likely speaks more to Dortmund’s difficulties than it does to Gündoğan, who was out nearly the entirety of last season with injury, and missed chunks of the current one as well.
But when he’s been fit, Gündoğan has been one of the few bright points in Dortmund’s dark season. He’s both disciplined and creative, but it’s his passing game that ties the team together. Oh, and he’s also one of those players that likes to disrupt a game, which is always handy. And his long injury layoffs should make him a bargain – well, to those in the Premier League, anyway. Dortmund officials will be grinning inanely while they count their cash.
Best position: Central defender
Teams in pursuit: Arsenal, Manchester United (England)
Likely cost: $38 million
“Actual value:” $33 million
Hummels’ reputation perhaps precedes him. In previous seasons, Dortmund’s defense has been relatively tight, and the captain’s played a major role in marshaling his team’s back line. Add to that the fact that he’s got to touch the World Cup, and you can see why a team with holes in its defense would be in pursuit – especially with Dortmund giving little incentive to stay.
Interested teams should proceed with caution, however. Dortmund’s collapse has been one of the major storylines of 2014-15, and while Hummels shouldn’t bear all the blame, he’s found himself pulled out of position more than once. Still, he’ll keep his head, won’t fly into rash tackles and help his side stay composed. Plus it’s always fun to say “Mats.” You’ve gotta admit, that extra “s” makes him a little more special.
Best position: Central attacking midfield
Teams in pursuit: Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United (England), Bayern Munich (Germany)
Likely cost: $33 million
“Actual value:” $27 million
Buyer beware once more: the attack-minded Bundesliga can make players look more valuable than they perhaps might be in other leagues, and when it’s Hoffenheim being discussed, well, the player in question should probably come with a warning label. This is a team that pours forward without consideration for defense, and in consequence attackers find plenty opportunity to show off their tricks and flairs.
He also got the chance to catch eyes with Brazil this spring, with his no-look goal that sealed victory for his side over Chile. It’s true he can score, but Firmino’s more apt to be the creator, the one providing the ball for his teammates. And there are certainly a few sides in England more eager for that than for showy shots.
Best position (alternate positions): Right wing (forward)
Teams in pursuit: Arsenal, Manchester United (England), Bayern Munich (Germany)
Likely cost: $11 million
“Actual value:” $8.7 million
Think back to the first week of the Bundesliga season, when Bayer Leverkusen shocked the world by scoring in less than nine seconds against Dortmund, making everyone believe Germany might have another side ready to challenge for the title. Well, the hype over Bayer might have died down, but buzz over that goalscorer continues to build.
Even while Leverkusen’s struggled to adjust to Roger Schmidt’s all-attack-all-the-time philosophy, Bellarabi has continued zooming along, scoring 11 goals along the way – not bad for a winger, but then again, he does love to cut inside. Unfortunately for those hoping their team will pick up a goalscorer who’s great with the ball at his feet, most of the Bellarabi rumors look tenuous at best.
Best position (alternate positions): Second striker (Striker)
Teams in pursuit: Anyone smart – but they’re hiding it
Likely cost: $100 million!
“Actual value:” $13 million
Editor’s note: On May 10, Wolfsburg confirmed that Kruse would be joining the club next season. Guess at least one team noticed his value.
Borussia Mönchengladbach was smart enough to wrap up a contract extension for Patrick Hermann. So, too, for Granit Xhaka. Kruse, however, could still be wooed away, yet he doesn’t seem to be on any club’s radar – save for a few links to Newcastle United last winter. And really, when his team’s set to play in the Champions League next season, why trade that for a trainwreck in northern England?
Maybe it’s because, on the surface, his numbers don’t look so great. After all, nine goals in 25 starts isn’t wonderful for a striker. But Kruse does better when he’s playing with a partner, and his strength lies more in his other contributions – his key passes, his precise crosses, his through balls to set his teammates free. Any teams playing two up top and seeking a terrific setup man should be considering Kruse.