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Leagues: Bundesliga

10 Players to Watch in the 2013-14 Bundesliga Season

The 2013-14 Bundesliga season has already kicked off, and there are 10 months of intrigue ahead of us.

Here are 10 players to watch in the 2013/14 Bundesliga season:

1. Thiago Alcantara

Having been signed by Bayern Munich for £21.6million, Thiago Alcantara will have to prove that he belongs among the greats. After his scintillating display in the u21 European Championships, even scoring a hat-trick in the final, the stage has been set for the young Spaniard.  Whether he can establish himself as a starter in a midfield that is riddled with more talent than the Spanish midfield remains to be seen, but he has been lured to Munich with promises, and perhaps one of them was that he will be starting some games.  Alcantara’s future is bright and hopefully it will not be wasted like that of Shaqiri, on the bench

2. Ilkay Gundogan

After Nuri Sahin departed for Real Madrid, Dortmund knew they had lost a great talent whose position may not be easily filled for years to come, but they were wrong.  It did not take Gundogan long before he established himself as the team’s undisputed anchor in the midfield.  This season, Gundogan will be stepping out of Goetze’s shadow and show why he will be the first name on the team sheet when Germany challenges for the World Cup next year.  The young German has not only become indispensable to Dortmund, but the National Team has come to rely heavily on him.  He possesses everything that a modern midfielder needs, and his dribbling skills are the icing on the cake.  Gundogan will be the driving force behind Dortmund’s title challenge and in him, Dortmund possess something Bayern lacks and that is a midfielder that can do all three, dribble, shoot and pass.

3. Leon Goretzka

The Bochum trainee that recently switched allegiances to FC Schalke was brought in to fill the shoes of Lewis Holtby.  At just 18, Goretzka already has played one season in the 2. Bundesliga, but so impressed have his admirers been that the world was watching who would snap him up.  He is tall, strong and reminds the Germans of a traditional midfielder from a generation long gone.  His passing is exquisite while he tends to stay calm and collected when in possession of the ball.  How the pace of the Bundesliga will affect the teen, no one can predict, but FC Schalke is certain that he will be their missing piece in the midfield puzzle.

4. Stefan Kiessling

Perhaps this article is about a decade too late in suggesting that this once upon a time German sensation, should be watched out for, but with the World Cup around the corner and Kiessling’s scoring rate, one has to wonder what else he has to do in order to get a second look chance from Jogi Löw.  While Löw has cited formation issues in why Kiessling hasn’t been called up, the in-form striker may just force his way in if his scoring rate continues to soar.  He will have to perform in the Champions League in order to truly impress the German manager and perhaps his eyes are also set for a move abroad.  His abilities would be sought after in the Premier League.

5. Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Almost unheard of before this transfer window, the Armenian played a role in his country’s European championship ambition, scoring six goals and making into the Qualifiers dream team.  His name may take time to properly memorize and pronounce, but the Armenian was quick to capitalize on Jadson’s absence at Shakhtar and turned himself into a fan favorite. Mkhitaryan possesses all the skills that have made Lampard into one of the most potent midfielders and he will make sure to fill the void left by Goetze.  Technically, Mkhitaryan is not as gifted as Goetze. However what Goetze could not do in front of goal Mkhitaryan can.

6. Rafael Van Der Vaart

He is a hero in some parts of Hamburg and deservedly so; the Dutchman has been made captain and remains a talisman for the club.  Fink recently stated that he still believes Van Der Vaart is one of the best players in the league and is building a side around the talented player in order to get the team back into the Champions League.  Van der Vaart may not be as exciting as some of the up and coming German stars, but as a captain of one of the legendary top sides of German football, he is certainly quite important, especially after an injury laden season and a World Cup around the corner.

7. Julian Draxler

He doesn’t look a year older than 15, but the talent and vision this player possesses makes the viewer believe he has been playing the game for decades.  He has become Schalke’s inspiration and is often touted as the best player of this generation. He most likely won’t see out his two year extension, but his presence will be needed in order to win the Ruhr Derby.  Draxler will also want to prove to Löw that he deserves his place in an already talented Germany midfield for this summer’s World Cup.

8. Pirmin Schwegler

After helping the club win promotion, Schwegler was one of the standout players last season, helping the club secure Europa League football last season.  He has been dubbed the engine in midfield and his stay at the club was in jeopardy when the season ended, but Frankfurt’s management was able to convince the talented Swiss national player to stick it out with them.  He previously failed to make a mark at Bayer Leverkusen, but his presence in the squad is not only reassuring for Armin Veh, but also Ottmar Hitzfeld, who will be counting on Schwegler to help the Swiss national team achieve its goal in qualifying for the World Cup.  The Swiss have plenty of talented players in the Bundesliga, among them Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, but Schwegler has been the most consistent of the Swiss stars.

9. Diego

A blast from the past and perhaps one that is beyond reprieve but the diminutive Brazilian has lit up the Bundesliga before and Wolfsburg look like the team that will challenge for this year’s Champions League spots.  After Diego’s successful seasons at Werder Bremen, his stock reached an all-time high, before plummeting.  His time at Juventus was a failure, while his return to Germany wasn’t met with much enthusiasm.  He helped Athletico Madrid win the Europa League before returning to Wolfsburg. Last season at Wolfsburg, Diego was seen as the team’s best player and at times, the only player that seemed interested in playing. He may have lost some speed since his days at Werder, but that was never his forte, the Brazilian can still play a defense splitting pass with his head facing the opposite way.

10. Vedad Ibisevic

VFB Stuttgart will be relying on him  heavily and although the club did bring in some players during the transfer window, Ibisevic is a natural born goal scorer and his last couples of seasons with Hoffenheim were not as fruitful as he had hoped.  He finished the last season with 15 goals, but his supply line suffered in the middle of the season and his numbers could have easily been increased. In December, he single-handedly destroyed a strong Schalke side, scoring a hatrick to defeat them 3-1. Bruno Labbadia has put his faith in Ibisevic and was repaid with plenty of goals and now Labbadia’s only other task is to keep Ibisevic happy up front.

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