HAMBURG, GERMANY - APRIL 27: Max Kruse of St. Pauli in action during the training session of FC St.Pauli. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Well sir, it appears that football's silly-season is into full swing, with several important moves having already been consummated and a number of other big names still up in the air. We talked briefly last week about FC Bayern's recent purchases: Dante, Xherdan Shaqiri, Mandzukic, Claudio Pizarro, and Tom Starke. And, of course, the club brought in Matthias Sammer as new "Sporting Director."
We'll continue to follow Bayern progress first and foremost, and to analyze how they might fit everyone into a coherent rotation. But in the mean time, let's take a quick circuit around the Fussball-Bund and see what other German clubs have been up to since the transfer markets opened.
Several high-profile moves for the chumps:
- As expected, Shinji Kagawa was sold to Man U. BVB fans would love to have kept him around, but the fact is, he probably didn't fit into their starting line-up with Götze coming back to full strength and Reus coming aboard. He's an excellent player, and he still would have been a great guy to keep around for late-game instant offense. But the chance to turn a profit of nearly 17 million Euro on a guy who wouldn't have been starting was clearly too big a temptation to turn down.
- Dortmund also gave Mats Hummels a new 5-year deal.
- They bought young Australian international Mustafa Amini. I haven't seen much of this kid, or really even heard of him - supposedly he's good?
- Finally, Dortmund raided VfB for Julian Scheiber. He'll probably be mostly a Lewandowski back-up, but he could feature in a 2-striker line-up if Dortmund wants to go that way. I think they bought Julian just to keep him from shredding their defense like he did in that 4-4 thriller late last year.
So, several interesting changes over in the West, but the frame of the club - Hummels, Lewandowski, Götze, Kuba, Subotic, Weidenfeller, and Kehl - will remain the same.
An equally busy summer for the Muppet Musicians of Bremen. We know they sold Pizarro to Bayern, but they're bringing in a few faces to help improve on their respectable 9th-place finish last year:
- Most importantly, they picked up Dutch wing/forward Eljero Elia from Juventus. Elia was seen as a budding star a few year ago with Hamburg, but he couldn't get off the bench at Juve, and he has also fallen out of favor with the Dutch national team. Of course, is that really a bad thing?
- As some people have already noted, they're taking in Nils Petersen on a loan deal.
- Bremen also picked up Theodor Gabre Selassie, the Czech FB who looked good in the Group Stage at the Euros. I don't know what to make of this. If he turns out to be a great player, it will look like a smart move, but if he struggles, everyone will say "that's why you don't buy a guy just because he has a good game or two at an international tournament." But he comes in relatively cheap at 2 million Euro, so this seems like an acceptable risk for a team that needed help in the corners.
- Finally, they got some dude from Fortuna D that I'd never heard of. A simple depth move, so it would seem.
As we've known, they sold Marco Reus to Dortmund and Dante to Bayern. A pair of tough losses for the Foals. But they aren't sitting on their hands - 'Gladbach has been somewhat busy on the markets as well, preparing for a season that will start early with Champions League Qualifying Rounds:
- They snapped up Shaqiri's old Basel teammate, Granit Xhaka. Apparently there are more Albanians in Switzerland than I realized.
- BMG also re-signed manager Lucien Favre to a new 5-year deal. This should give them some stability - to see him leave at this point would have likely meant everything falling apart.
- They got Alvaro Dominguez from Ateltico Madrid, who can play in Dante's CB spot and has some good big-game experience.
They're also rumored to be in the running for young Dutch star Luuk de Jong. I don't know if BMG can pull it off, with so many clubs chasing him. But maybe with the incoming Champions League money, they could pull a surprise.
Not as much positive action from Schalke. As expected, Raul left for his late-career payday. So far, they've made only one affirmative move:
- They brought in former Leverkusen man Tranquillo Barnetta, and signed him to a 3-year deal. He's had a few good games in the Bundesliga, but it's hard to see him as more than a serviceable midfield cog.
UPDATE - as promised in the comment section a Barnetta video. Judge for yourselves:
The big move that Schalke appear to be plotting is a swoop for Rafa van der Vaart. That would be a huge improvement for them, if they could pull it off. They, too, have Champions League money coming in, but I'm pretty sure they still have debt problems, so I'm dubious that they can make this happen. If they can't, expect one or two smaller moves to fill gaps and add depth ahead of the season. Huntelaar and Höwedes remain the work-horses for Die Blau und Scheiss.
It's shaping up to be a busy season for the Wolves, as well. They're gunning for one of the Europa League spots, after finishing just outside the top 7 last year. Mad-man Magath is still running the show, and they've made several moves:
- Most importantly, they picked up former Bayern striker Ivica Olic. His recent injury troubles and lack of playing time make this something of a gamble. But if he can recover the form he showed in 2009-2010, VfL will be hard for most Bundesliga sides to stop.
- However, they really need Olic to deliver, because they sold their other scoring machine back to bayern: Mario Mandzukic came the other way after his impressive showing at Euro 2012.
- GK Diego Benaglio (the "other Diego") re-signed through 2017, giving them some stability in the net.
As far as "original Diego," Brazilian club Flamengo wants him on a loan, with sponsorship deals to pay the loan fee and the player's wages.
Around the Bundesliga
Just some quick-hitters from other clubs in the 1. Bundi:
- Bayer Levekusen scooped up Chilean star Junior Fernandes. The last Chilean they had was pretty damn good, so I guess they're hoping lightning strikes twice.
- With Bernd Leno playing well for most of last year, Leverkusen deemed GK Rene Adler expendable. He's been shipped off to Hamburg.
- With Europa League play starting fairly soon, Hannover 96 made an interesting move in picking up Hiroki Sakai from Reysol in the Japanese League. At 22 and with a few appearances in the Japanese senior team, H96 was convinced Sakai can come in and help them right away.
- SC Freiburg turned some of that P.D. Cisse` money into Max Kruse, a 24-year old German middie who played with Germany's U19 and U21 sides. Kruse played last year in the 2. Bundeliga, but he has some top-level experience, a nice passing touch, and a decent burst of speed. Mark it down - I like this move.
- Hoffenheim went nuts with the summer moves: picking up Takashi Usami on a loan (yeah, we've been down that road), grabbing young German 'keeper Tim Wiese to replace Starke, and raiding Leverkusen for Swiss forward / utility-man Eren Derdiyok. They also sold or released, like, half of the guys on their roster from last year.
- Stuttgart got some American guy who doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. By the way, friends who follow Team USA this summer tell me that almost half the guys on the team prefer to speak to each other in German.
Plenty of other small moves, the ones above are just the ones I think might be important in the upcoming Bundeliga and DFB Pokal seasons. Anything I'm missing? What do you think we're the biggest/best/dumbest moves? We'll be following this all summer, and the 2012-2013 Bundeliga Preview will be up sometime in July. Thanks for reading.