Hearing you’re losing your star striker hours before you start the new season is far from the ideal situation, but one that Köln faced last weekend. A 3-1 home win went some way to calm the anger, but the question now arises as to whether the club need to enforce their ranks or put their faith in their upcoming talent.
Sebastien Haller’s enforced absence at Borussia Dortmund forced the Schwarzgelben to act, and act they did in prising Anthony Modeste away from the Domstadt for €5 million. The big fish BVB’s gain is most certainly the smaller fishes loss as Steffen Baumgart now has to decide if and how he is going to compensate for the 20 goals that Modeste scored for the Geißböcke last season as they finished an admirable 7th in the table.
24-year-old Florian Dietz was thrust into the starting line-up against Schalke last weekend and looked impressive on his Bundesliga debut. Having gained a lot of admirers with his performances with Köln II in the Regionalliga West, the striker was promoted to the first-team squad, but with the intention of easing him in gently and mainly as a back-up.
He won an impressive seven aerial duals against Schalke, got four shots away (one on target), and had twelve pressures in the attacking third. Can Köln’s plan C or plan B become their plan A?
Another player already at the club potentially able to step up into the Modeste role is that of Steffen Tigges. The Rhein club completed the signing of Tigges from Borussia Dortmund on a five-year deal in the summer for €1.5 million. The 24-year-old striker scored three goals in nine games with Dortmund’s first-team last season, operating mainly as understudy to Erling Haaland. He is currently making his way back to full fitness after suffering a broken ankle last season.
It had been believed that Norwegian Alexander Sörloth would have a more regular role to play at RB Leipzig this season after spending last season on loan in Spain with Real Sociedad, where he scored four league goals. However, the return of talisman Timo Werner to the club may curtail his first-team action and the Roten Bullen may want to move him on again. With a current market value of €10 million, a deal could be there to be done.
Another player being linked with a move to the RheinEnergie Stadion is that of Greuther Fürth’s Branimir Hrgota. The 29-year-old scored nine Bundesliga goals last season for relegated Fürth and does have previous top flight experience with Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Then the name of Jhon Cordoba comes into the frame. The ex-Köln forward is currently contracted to FC Krasnodar in Russia and extracting himself from that contract shouldn’t prove problematic. Whether he can provide the desired goals return is another question.
As a wildcard, I am going to throw in the name of ex-Dortmund striker Paco Alcácer. Out of favour with Villarreal under Unai Emery, the Spaniard has reported turned down offers from the USA and is open to a return to Germany. Union and Hertha are being linked, so why not Köln?