Last Season: 16th
Coach: Sebastian Hoeneß
Squad Valuation: €129.23m
Stadium: MHP Arena (56,589)
It was a case of all’s well that ends well for Stuttgart last season as they survived the relegation play-off against Hamburg and secured their Bundesliga survival. The task now is to make sure that they are not in a similar precarious position at the end of the forthcoming season.
The season started with Pellegrino Matarazzo in charge before he was jettisoned with he club sinking. Interim Michael Wimmer was replaced by Bruno Labbadia, but when the relegation specialist’s magic touch seemed to desert him, the club turned to Sebastian Hoeneß to rescue the situation. That he ultimately saved the Swabians from the drop puts a massive plus on his CV, but he now needs to improve the performance of the squad to ensure there is no repeat of the woes of last season.
We have however been here before with the Swabians looking for a new, fresh start after a disappointing campaign seeing them surviving by the skin of their teeth. New sporting director Fabian Wohlgemuth has the task of giving the trainer a competitive squad and planning a long-term Bundesliga future. The arrival of goalkeeper Alexander Nübel on an initial loan shows good intent, while the acquisition of talented Korean Woo-yeong Jeong from Freiburg looks to be a sound investment. The signing of striker Serhou Guirassy on a permanent deal was sealed at the tail end of last season, but it remains to be seen whether the club can hold on to the likes of Borna Sosa and Konstantinos Mavropanos if substantial bids come in for the players.
Following promotion in 2020, Stuttgart finished 9th, then 15th and 16th so the trajectory now needs to change in a positive way. The huge relief witnessed at the end of last season needs to be converted from pessimism to optimism. The club would do well to take a leaf out of the Köln/ Mainz playbooks whereby Bundesliga safety is seemingly a given and anything above and beyond that is seen as a bonus.
Major signings: Woo-yeong Jeong (Freiburg), Jovan Milosevic (Vojvodina), Alexander Nübel (Bayern Munich loan), Maximilian Mittelstädt (Hertha Berlin), Jamie Leweling (Union Berlin loan),
Major departures: Florian Müller (Freiburg), Tanguy Coulibaly (free agent), Tiago Tomas (loan end)
Youngster to watch: Enzo Millot
The attacking midfielder made nine starts for Stuttgart last season and 23 appearances all told. His two goals in the second leg of the relegation paly-off against Hamburg at the Volksparkstadion confirmed his potential and coach Sebastian Hoeneß could look to hand the 21-year-old a lot more game time this season if that is the level is going to bringing on a regular basis. The Swabians certainly need an injection of quality and Millot could be exactly that.