Last Season: 11th
Coach: Steffen Baumgart
Squad Valuation: €93.75m
Stadium: Rhein-Energie Stadion (50,000)
There can be no doubt that coach Steffen Baumgart has put his imprint on Köln since his arrival in 2021 and that he has driven the club’s progress from relegation candidates to a side capable of achieving a regular top half finish, There have been European adventures along the way (although too often accompanied by fan disruption) and the journey looks set to continue with he coach signing a new contract last season.
There is however a feeling that there was more in the season last year than their ultimate 11th place finish and that the charismatic coach will have a tough task on his hands this season as the club look to cope with the departures of Ellyes Skhiri and Jonas Hector.
The club’s transfer ban is an ongoing process and could well still affect the club for the next few transfer windows. The lack of summer signings to excite the fan base is noticeable. Leart Paqarada was announced last season and it will be interesting to see how the Köln gameplan goes with him as Hector’s heir. Will it be more of the same, or will the Billy Goats have to adapt? Baumgart had previously said that Hector and Skhiri were ‘irreplaceable’ and the absence of the Tunisian will hit the team particularly hard.
Jacob Christensen has been signed on a free from Nordsjaelland, and Eric Martel, Dejan Ljubicic and Denis Huseinbasic will have a lot of Skhiri’s running to cover for. Luca Waldschmidt has signed on an initial loan from Wolfsburg to provide another option in attack. Mark Uth’s future remains uncertain with his ongoing injury and Baumgart will hope that Davie Selke can carry on his good start from last season.
Since their last promotion Köln have finished 14th, 16th, and under Baumgart 7th and 11th. This season feels like one in which it could go either way- up to top seven or down to bottom seven. In Baumgart they trust!
Major signings: Luca Waldschmidt (VfL Wolfsburg loan), Leart Paqarada (St. Pauli), Jacob Christensen (Nordsjaelland), Jonas Nickisch (RB Leipzig), Rasmus Carstensen (Genk loan)
Major departures: Elyes Skhiri (Eintracht Frankfurt), Jonas Hector (retired)
Youngster to watch: Meiko Wäschenbach
The 19-year-old midfielder has been promoted to the first team this season along with defender Elias Bakatukanda. Wäschenbach captained the side that won the DFB Junior Cup last season and while he will once again run out regularly for the U-23 side, he will have his eye on impressing Steffen Baumgart enough to earn some first-team minutes. He can play anywhere across the midfield, but is predominantly right-sided.