It’s now late July and the club teams which make up the Bundesliga only have one more month to sign, trade, and transfer new players for the 50th campaign of the season. Overshadowed by the EPL and La Liga transfers, the Bundesliga has already made exciting and intriguing signings that have gone under the radar in the soccer world. In no specific order, here are some of my favorites:
Luuk De Jong to Borussia Monchengladbach
If there is any benefit to the departure of Marco Reus from the squad, it’s the the new funding that Monchengladbach has received to sign new, fresh talent. Luuk De Jong is no exception, he signed for 15 million Euros on a five year deal earlier this month. De Jong knocked in a whopping 25 goals in 32 appearances last year for FC Twente during their regular season, adding in an extra 7 in other tournaments. Although he was linked with Newcastle, De Jong stated that Monchengladbach was the club for him: “I’ve told Twente that I only want to go to Gladbach. Borussia are playing in the qualifying round of the Champions League, and it’s best for me to take the next step in my career. The Bundesliga is one of the best leagues in Europe. I need to go there in order to take the next step with the [Dutch] national team.”
Transfer Rating – 7/10
A great finisher, and also great in the air, De Jong has much potential. Although he was one of the best in Holland, De Jong has admitted that it will be more difficult for him to become a star player in the Bundesliga because of the level of play. If he can overcome the minimal issues going against him (pace of play, movement off the ball), he should be able to shine for Monchengladbach.
Marco Reus to Borussia Dortmund
Reus turned down Bayern Munich to join Dortmund for 17.5 million Euros on a five-year deal. Reus, who was recently voted as the Bundesliga player of 2011-2012 by the German players union, is coming off his best season to date with 21 goals scored in 37 appearances for his former Borussia Monchengladbach side. Along with this, he also had a short, but impressive two games with the German national team during the most recent Euro tournament. Between 1996-2006, Reus played on the Dortmund youth squad, cementing a fondness for the club which would later make the current transfer an easy one.
Transfer Rating – 9/10
Unfortunately for Reus, his name will soon (if not already) become synonymous with Shinji Kagawa. The hole that Kagawa will leave at Dortmund will be huge. Reus was signed on as an obvious replacement for the Japanese international who just signed with Manchester United. Marco will have very high expectations but should be able to fulfill these. He’s an intelligent winger who is quick, a great dribbler, and deadly with one-on-one attacks.
Xherdan Shaqiri to Bayern Munich
The quick and speedy Xherdan Shaqiri will be sure to hear plenty of jokes after signing on with Bayern Munich. Last year’s Champions League match-up between FC Basel (including Shaqiri in the line-up) and Bayern ended in a one-sided 7-0 win for the Germans. Shaqiri, after playing on the losing side, has interestingly enough signed on this year to help the Bavarians win a title. The 20 year-old self-proclaimed “street footballer” committed to a four-year deal for 11.6 million Euros. After the signing, Shaqiri stated that he would not partake in the Olympics for the national team from Switzerland: “I have to integrate into my new team. It was clear to me from the start that I was inclined towards Bayern, even if every player dreams of competing at the Olympics…it would certainly have been a great experience, but I can only integrate fully if I’m 100 percent here.”
Transfer Rating – 8/10
Shaqiri is still very young but has provided much success in the past for his former club. With 38 appearances and 14 goals for Basel last year, Shaqiri will be itching to make it onto the starting 11. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery aren’t getting any younger, so the addition of Shaqiri will definitely have a positive effect on the squad. Whether his “street football” style will be able to work with the current Bayern style of play is another question.
Dante to Bayern Munich
It’s going to be tough for Monchengladbach after losing Reus and now Dante. The Brazilian defender, who signed for 4.7 million Euros, had this to say about the trade: “Bayern are one of the world’s biggest clubs and there I can have the chance to play at the very highest of levels and win titles…I am now 28 years old and want to take that next step in my career…Borussia tried all they could to keep me and give me a new contract. I’ve been here for three and a half years now and I’ve had a wonderful time. For that I’d like to thank everyone at the club and the fantastic supporters. It hurts to leave but decisions like this are a part of every player’s career.”
Transfer Rating – 7/10
Bayern were prone to small, yet important mistakes in the back last year. These mistakes cost them their chance to win the Champions League title, the cup final to Dortmund, and the league title. Boateng and Badstuber will more than likely start over the Brazilian but if he proves to have a season similar to his most recent one, we might see him starting regularly over them.
Granit Xhaka to Borussia Monchengladbach
Signing from FC Basel for only 8.5 million Euros, Xhaka might be the steal of the tournament. The 19 year old has the intelligence of a player ten years older than him and was even considered the best in Switzerland by the former Basel coach Thorsten Fink: “Xherdan Shaqiri is the best talent in Switzerland…after Granit Xhaka.” With the ability to create sublime long passes while also playing a great defensive game, Xhaka has been named the “young Schweinsteiger.”
Transfer Rating – 9/10
There is plenty of hype about Granit and he should be able to follow through. His only weakness might be his occasional risky decisions which have allowed for counter-attacks, but this shouldn’t be too detrimental to the squad. He has a consistently high pass completion rate, has a mature playing style and is aggressive defensively. Look out for this guy next year.
Mario Mandzukic to Bayern Munich
After a very impressive showing for Croatia during Euro 2012, Mario Mandzukic signed with Bayern Munich for 13 millions Euros from Wolfsburg. With the addition of Mandzukic, Bayern will have three deadly players (Pizarro and Gomez) who will be able to play as strikers. Mandzukic netted 20 goals in 56 appearances for the Wolfsburg side and will be sure to add more (he just scored against his old club in a pre-season game) for the Bavarians this season. According to Mandzukic, the trade was an easy decision: “I had other offers, but I want to win the title with Bayern. That is why you play football. The decision was not difficult. I cannot wait to finally get started. I must perform well in training and will use all my skills to play regularly. I look forward to playing alongside Claudio Pizarro and Mario Gomez – it will make me an even better player.”
Transfer Rating – 8/10
With Olic out, Bayern needed somebody to replace him. Mandzukic may not start over Gomez, but he definitely has the potential to become a better player. Unlike Gomez, Mandzukic plays a larger role in the creation of plays. Pizarro will more than likely be more of a sub providing guidance to a potentially deadly Mandzukic and Gomez combination. If the Croatian international performs the way he did at the Euros, he will be well worth the trade.
More important signings (honorable mentions):
-Phillip Wollscheid (Nurnberg to Bayer Leverkusen)
-Bas Dost (Heerenveen to Wolfsburg)
-Theodor Gebre Selassie (Slovan Liberec to Werder Bremen)