The eighteen Bundesliga clubs splashed out over €660 million on new players in the previous two transfer windows. The pressure to improve the squad in order to achieve season targets is huge, so getting your signings right is key. This season saw some players arrive, who hit the ground running and already stand out as major talents in the German topflight. Others bombed and left fans wondering what all the fuss was about, while the jury is still out on others.
Here we bring you five hits, five misses and five maybes from the Bundesliga over the past season. We’re focussing here on new players coming into the league, so transfers like Mats Hummels were not considered.
Thorgan who? The fact that the sale of prized attacker Thorgan Hazard to Borussia Dortmund didn’t really impinge upon Mönchengladbach too severely is due in large part to the instant impact made by Marcus Thuram following his €9 million arrival from EA Guingamp.
The 22-year-old showed pace, power and dynamic dribbling for the Foals and chipped in with ten goals (joint top scorer at the club) and eight assists. His flag waving celebrations have gone down a storm at the Borussia Park and at less than €10 million, the son of former World Cup winner Lilian Thuram was an absolute bargain.
The 22-year-old is going to be another player that Paris St. Germain will really regret letting slip through their net. Like Thuram, he was an absolute steal for RB Leipzig, who ‘only’ paid €13 million to prise him away from the French capital.
The fact that he has nudged Emil Forsberg out of the reckoning and cemented his place as one of Julian Nagelsmann’s primary attackers is testament to his first season in Germany. He has shown speed, trickery, a real threat on goal as well as an eye for his forward players. With five goals and a massive 15 assists it’s clear why he is already making headlines in the Bundesliga.
Hardly anyone had heard of Edmond Tapsoba prior to the Winterpause but following his €18 million move from Vitória Guimarães he quickly showed the Bundesliga just why Bayer Leverkusen had prised him away from Portugal.
His attitude, his commitment, his passing and tackling ability have all stood out in his brief time with the Werkself and his instant partnership with Sven Bender has even forced German international Jonathan Tah to accept that he is no longer a first-choice centre back at the Bay Arena. He didn’t enjoy the best of games in the DFB Pokal final, but has really grabbed the attention in his 14 Bundesliga appearances.
Not a player signed by one of the top six sides, but Köln’s acquisition of centre back Sebastian Bornauw from Anderlecht for €6 million was a shrewd piece of business from the Geißböcke.
The 21-year-old looked a little shaky at the start of the season, but emerged to become the cornerstone of the Köln back line with some assured performances, an ability to bring the ball out from the back and an ability to break up the opponent’s attacks. He even chipped in with six goals. Probably signed as one for the future, but Bornauw is very much one for the present at the Rhein-Energie Stadion.
What needs to be said about Dortmund’s new talisman? Haaland’s goalscoring exploits in Austria were no secret, but the question was ‘how would he transfer that to the Bundesliga’. He answered the question in emphatic style by scoring 13 goals in 15 appearances including a hat trick on his debut as a second half substitute at Augsburg.
What is also quite remarkable is that BVB only paid €20 million for quite possibly the most dangerous/ dynamic striker in Europe right now. His market value now is placed at €70+ million- not a bad rise in six months.
When attacking midfielder Hannes Wolf took the well-worn path from Red Bull Salzburg to RB Leipzig last summer, he seemed destined to take his talent to the next level and become a key cog in Julian Nagelsmann’s first season in charge in Saxony. Things just haven’t worked out that way for the €12 million signing and he is reportedly already looking for a way out of the club to resurrect his career.
He began the season injured having suffered a broken leg at the U-21 European Championships in June and on his return was limited to just five brief substitute appearances totalling less than an hour.
The Spaniard arrived in January on loan from Real Madrid as a back-up for Benjamin Pavard and leaves six months later with few Bayern Fans realising, he was ever there. Perhaps more through Pavard’s consistently impressive performances that his own failings, Odriozola made no impact in the Bundesliga.
He started on matchday 23 at Paderborn but was taken off after an hour and was given a token run out on the final day against Wolfsburg when he again lasted an hour. That’s it. Not much else to be said. He now returns to Madrid where he will provide cover for Dani Carvajal now that Achraf Hakimi has joined Inter.
The right back came in from Monaco for €5.5 million in the summer but has already been loaned out to French side Rennes ahead of next season with Mainz realising he isn’t up to their requirements. He was limited to just eight starts this season and wasn’t even included in the post-corona lockdown squads.
The form of Ridle Baku and the fact that Daniel Brosinski and Philipp Mwene performed better, he has been cut loose after just one disappointing season.
Another player to endure a tough first season and then depart straight after was Köln’s midfielder Birger Verstraete. The €4 million midfield signing from Gent was limited to just seven starts and provided just one assist with no goals. He started well under Achim Beierlorzer but confessed to “not enjoying” the football played under his successor Markus Gisdol.
The solution involves a loan to Antwerp, who have the option to buy at the end of next season. You win some, you lose some and in this case the Billy Goats lost.
‘Luan who?’ I hear you ask. Aside from the arrival of coach Julian Nagelsmann in Leipzig last summer, the two main signings from die Roten Bullen were Brazilian fullback Candido from Palmeiras and Hannes Wolf from RB Salzburg. Neither have worked out.
Dubbed the ‘new Marcelo’ and costing €8 million, he failed to impress, made only three appearances for the U-19 side, and was loaned to Brazilian side Red Bull Bragantino until 2021.
There were horrendous moments from the Augsburg keeper such as his clown-like error against Mönchengladbach, but then the Czech signing from French Cup winners Rennes showed his ability in other matches such as the away clashes with Leipzig and Hoffenheim as well as their trip to Augsburg.
The signing of Rafal Gikiewicz from Union looks to spell trouble, but there could still be a future for Koubek with the Fuggerstädter.
The biggest signing of the summer saw Bayern splash out a whopping 80 million on the French World Cup winning defender from Atletico Madrid, but it was a season to forget for the player. Injury kept him out of the start and then an ankle ligament injury kept him out for most of the season.
In his absence, the Bayern back line excelled with David Alaba and Alphonso Davies stepping up to the plate and fellow new signing Benjamin Pavard shining. There were rumours of an exit to PSG, but it looks like Bayern are going to chalk off this season with Hernandez and look to start again with him next season.
The Malian midfielder was another graduate to the Bundesliga from Red Bull Salzburg, and he came with a huge amount of expectation. Injuries hindered his impact at the start of the season and just when it looked like he was hitting his stride and starting to reach his best, the season was cut short by the corona virus pandemic.
He can’t be called an out-and-out success just yet, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest the 24-year-old will live up to the hopes Hoffenheim have of him. Watch this space.
The €17 million January signing from Argentine side River Plate arrived as one of South America’s most precious jewels, but so far Bayer Leverkusen have not taken him out of the box so to speak. Just two starts and one sub appearance is the sum total of his involvement.
Peter Bosz has intimated that it takes time for young players to adapt to Germany and the Bundesliga and that there are other options ahead of Palacios right now, Having had his settling in period and with Kai Havertz seemingly on his way, next season could be a big one for the central midfielder.
Wolfsburg’s Brazilian has shown glimpses this season as to why the club paid Austrian side LASK Linz €3.5 million for him in the summer. 32 appearances with 18 as a starter have brough two goals and two assists for the 26-year-old.
A good start, but not more than that. Trainer Oliver Glasner, who coached him at LASK, will want to see him step up another level next season though if Wolfsburg are break into the top four.