I tend to get too excited about the young kids, when they move. I will often over-value the transfers of the the Zuculini, Sven Bender and Lewis Holtby’s of the footballing world. I will see Ralf Fahrmann’s move to Eintracht as the bargain of the century. But youth takes time to develop, so this year I am going to concentrate on the seven best transfers made so far this summer, in relation to how the players will aid their teams in the coming year. Please note, that while Hamburg have no player on this list, I think that as a collective they have had one of the best summers in the Bundesliga.
7. Hannover 96
With the retirement of Michael Tarnat and Valerian Ismael and the realization that Frank Fahrenhorst was a Zweite level defender, Hannover needed a partner for the steady Mario Eggimann. Deiter Hecking replaced the old and the inept with Karim Haggui, a player who after a rough first year had settled into a solid defender in his second campaign at Leverkusen, only lose his place and patience as Bayer 04 went for a Henrique from Barcelona. The combatative defender should make a fine partner with Eggimann who can lead and read. Building a more solid defense around Enke should lead to a rise in the table for Hannover 96.
Wolfsburg has a problem this year: lots of games. The grind of the Champions League is hard on new teams not used to all the extra fixtures. At no position were Wolfsburg feeling thinner than forward. An injury to their superstar pairing of Grafite and Dzeko and things could get tricky for the defending champions. Enter Obafemi Martins. While he could never replace the link place that Dzeko provides, he does provide a strong, quick alternative who can score on a dime and place a pass when needed. He gives Armin Veh options and backup, without much drop-off in quality.
5. Werder Bremen
While the return of Borowski and the era of the Marin/Oezil partnership has made all the headlines, the transfer that should return Werder to a status of title challenger is Bolivian forward Marcelo Moreno from Shakhtar Donetsk. After scoring a goal 2 out of every 3 games in Brazil, the highly sought Bolivian of Brazilian stock joined Shaktar Donesk and scored 7 in 14 for the UEFA Cup Champions. He should make up for the loss of loanee Pizarro in spades.
4. Bayern Munich
It’s hard to tell what Bayern have done. Have they strengthened by replacing Ze Roberto with Tymoschuk, a purchase Rafael Honigsteing worries might be three years late? Gomez is class, but buying for buying’s sake can leave you with an ill-formed squad. In this case, Gomez means that at least two of their collection of strikers will be disgruntled. And Edson Braahfield is an unknown who has to replace a massive presence in the back line and locker room in Lucio. The one player that does not bring a question mark is Croatian Danijel Prajnic from Hereveen. He has the technical skills so ingrained in all Croatian players, he reads the game well to help him compensate for his attacking mentality as a fullback and he can pass. He may be the best fullback in the Bundesliga before a ball is kicked. And he plays in an area that has been problematic for Bayern since a Basque player roamed that area.
3. Hertha Berlin
Hertha Berlin had a forward problem. They couldn’t afford Voronin. Meanwhile, Marko Pantelic and Hertha had such a hate-hate relationship that they parted ways with their once talismanic striker. What to do? Buy back Arminia star forward Artur Wichniarek from the relegated side after his 3 year sojourn from the capital. Now with a proven forward to help foster the young guns of Chermiti, Domovchiyski and Raffael, Hertha’s forward problem seem absolutely solved. And with service he never received, the Polish international could challenge to be Torschützenkönig.
Borussia Möchengladbach may have sold their biggest commodity only to get better at the same position. By swapping Marin for Venezuelan Juan Arango from Mallorca, they actually may have gotten better. There will be a settling-in period for Venezuala’s first superstar, but I have seen him tear Brazil apart, live. He is the real deal with pace and precision and this budding star should take the league by storm.
The strengthening of Hoffenheim’s defense is undoubtedly the story of the season, even though nobody is discussing it. It’s one thing to pick up the most consistent defender in the Bundesliga for a pittance, but to get the best LB too. Hoffenheim have strengthened in defense by adding Karlsruhe’s Christian Eichner and Hertha’s Josep Simunic, to add to their winter pickup of Timo Hildebrand. Their defense may now be the best in the Bundesliga and sits behind a devastating counter. These moves don’t mean the village team will survive again. It means they will contend again.