Orginally written for the BundesligaFanatic
First, I will give my opinions, in the few cases that I disagree with Travis’ assessments, then I’ll tackle some under the radar signings/honorable mentions in more detail.
Granit Xhaka got paid a lot of money, and deservedly so. 45 million sounds like a lot, but in light of the differences in revenue between the EPL and the rest of the world not named Barca/Real, it really isn’t. I mean, for one thing, when it comes to TV money, Leicester, Stoke and Norwich are pulling in two or three times the amount that Bayern are! Now, Bayern and to a lesser extent Dortmund and Schalke do a great job of closing the gap with other income (matchday + commercial), but the reality is that when it comes to squad value, there are 14 English teams over 100 million compared to just six Bundesliga squads. The perceived overpay is not unlike this summer’s stunning NBA deals (Mike Conley getting paid more per year than Lebron James), with the EPL’s TV deal acting as the increased salary cap in this analogy.
Secondly, I actually thought that Xhaka played quite well at the Euros, his stats are a little better than during the Bundesliga, and he was probably the second best outfield player behind Fabian Schär. It’s definitely not his fault that Haris Seferovic (about whom you may hear in the worst forwards of last season piece coming later) can’t finish chances that Xhaka creates with his brilliant vision.
Personally, the Mkhitaryan contract is probably more contentious, as he will turn 28 in January. That is a problematic age for an attacking player, as Michael Caley and others who have written about the football aging curve have described: “The football aging curve increases until an age of approximately 26 and drops thereafter. But the differences between the age of 25 until 30 are minor. After 30 the slope becomes considerably negative”. The recent examples of Juan Mata, the 28-year-old that Miki will be replacing at MU, or even past attackers such as Alvaro Negredo, Roberto Soldado or Dimitar Berbatov all signing long-term, big money deals after 27-28 are certainly warning signs. On the other hand, it’s not like MU are known for spending their money wisely. I certainly agree with Travis that it was tremendous business for BVB, even if Watzke and Zorc are ostensibly playing the real life version of Football manager/ Fifa career mode.
Breel Embolo was the other player that I raised my eyebrow at. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on him, and there are rumors that he wasn’t fully fit for Switzerland at the Euros, but for me his touch was extremely disappointing. According to Whoscored.com he lost the ball 15 times in 190 minutes, which would put him 8th WORST among qualified (3 games or more) players – if you are wondering, Ádám Szalai, the Hungary and long-time Bundesliga veteran, who scored for the first time in 18 months is your clubhouse leader. The Cameroon born striker is just 19, but I have my doubts as to Schalke really needed another attacking player full of athleticism and questionable decision-making. Of course, if they are selling Leroy Sané (speaking of questionable decision making and a fondness for dribbling) for 50 million, it probably makes sense to replace him. It further complicates matters that Huntelaar wants to stay and presumably start at center-forward, despite clearly having lost a step or two. Either way, I see Embolo as a classic Schalke move to bank on the future.
Having reflected on that round-up, let’s proceed to some more transfers, with special focus on some under the radar deals:
1.Hoffenheim are killing it! As you read, TSG sold their somewhat disgruntled star Kevin Volland for 20 million to Leverkusen. They reinvested that money into four players:
Sandro Wagner – arrived from Darmstadt to Hoffenheim for 2.8 million, and the former Bayern player, once the butt of many jokes, is bringing a lot of question marks, coming off his best ever season. Still, for 2.8 million it’s a worthy gamble. The bigger one is Andrej Kramaric, who finalized his move from Leicester for 10 million after impressing in the spring. The Croatian, who didn’t get a lot of playing time at the Euros was averaging close to four shots a game, and was unlucky not to score more than five goals. With the revitalized Mark Uth, who scored eight goals since Nagelsmann took over in February, and Mexico slayer Eduardo Vargas still lurking, Hoffenheim suddenly have great depth up top.
Lukas Rupp, who was one of the more underrated midfielders in the Bundesliga for Stuttgart last year cost just 5 million, and is a prime candidate for the Vladimir Darida breakout season in 16/17. Kevin Vogt, the 24-year-old Cologne midfielder with 8000 Bundesliga minutes behind him, is also a decent depth piece, although getting him for 1.75mil, when he is listed at 4 million could be a troubling sign.
Getting one of the best Bundesliga defenders of last year in Ingolstadt’s Benjamin Hübner at 800k is an absolute steal. It is borderline unfair, considering they already have Fabian Schär, who was arguably Switzerland’s best player in the Euros and Niklas Süle, who is targeted by all the big clubs and is still just 20.
2. Dortmund got all the kids! Aside from Demeble, they picked up Raphael Guerreiro – from Lorient for 12 million. The 22-year-old left back had SIX interceptions in the Euro final versus France, and is gonna give Marcel Schmelzer a run for his money. At 18, Emre Mor (from Nordsjaelland to BVB for 7 million €) was the only player for Turkey to have showed up at the Euros. Perhaps the legendary Fatih Terim was having a moment of senility, or was afraid to bench Arda Turan, but it’s clear that he made a huge mistake by not playing Mor. Our colleague, Anas Ali Molla already raved about Mikel Merino in February, and given the rare combo of physical ability and technical skill displayed at Osasuna, 3.5 million seems like a steal and a nice replacement for Gündogan.
3. The rest of the league –
Julian Baumgartlinger from Mainz to Leverkusen for 4 million was an early pickup, giving Bayer roughly 45 Central Midfielders. No wonder poor Kramer had to go to Gladbach, where he will try to replace Xhaka.
Wolfsburg did some very Wolfsburg things: they got Daniel Didavi from Stuttgart, who finally had his first season at 26. VfL also signed Yannick Gerhardt from Cologne to Wolfsburg for 13million (market value – 4.5 mil!!!), and a partnership with Maxi Arnold should give die Wölfe a nice young midfield for the future. Finalizing the loan deal of Guilavogui from Atletico is another solid move. Wolfsburg are doing sensible things????
Well, not so fast!
On the other hand, they lost veteran defender,Naldo to Schalke for nothing, entrusting Dante to lead their defense and mentor Robin Knoche. (I know about Jeffrey Bruma, but work with me here, people!) YIKES! Sadly, that is only the second worst move for VfL, if the Simone Zaza for 25 mill rumors prove true, which I hope they will.
Finally, some striker news:
Bobby Wood leaving Union Berlin and joining HSV for 3.5 million should be an upgrade over the strikers aka the Lords of Hamburg (Rudnevs, Lasogga and Schipplock)
Alfred Finnbogason finalized his deal with Augsburg (5 mil paid to Real Sociedad), while Anthony Ujah left Werder for China, joining Liaoning FC for 11.5 mil – at age 25, this is a curious move, but I certainly cannot blame him for taking all the money that China had to offer. I mean Graziano Pelle recently got 30 million, and Gonzalo Higuain reportedly turned down 800k British pounds PER WEEK!!! What a time to be alive.
Leave us a comment if we missed someone, or if you have some thoughts on the transfer season!