The Tone On Loan
Julian Green, Hamburger SV
The mystery surrounding his team selection continues, Hamburg manager Josef Zinnbauer relying on experienced players to keep Hamburg safe. In fact, Zinnbauer has only put him on the team sheet once in Hamburg's last seven matches. In an interview with Bundesliga.com, Green insists he is a striker, meaning he could be trapped behind players such as Ivica Olić and Artjoms Rudnevs rather than Zoltan Stieber or Marcel Jansen. What is worse is the the talk of him going down to the Hamburg reserves, a level he was trying to avoid playing at in the first place.
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, FC Augsburg
Unlike Zinnbauer, Markus Weinzierl committed to Højbjerg right away. The Danish international has featured in all three of Augsburg's Rückrunde matches, undertaking a playmaking role in the final third while also winning duels in defense. He has a confidence and assertion whenever he takes the field, assuring all the spectators that he belongs on the pitch. Only in Augsburg a month, he is a linchpin to what Weinzierl wants to do, and he could give the Fuggerstädter the best chance to qualify for their first Champions League appearance.
Jan Kirchhoff, FC Schalke 04
After sitting at midweek, Kirchhoff put in a full shift against Borussia Mönchengladbach, part of their consequential 1-0 victory. He played in defensive midfield this time around, Schalke manager Roberto Di Matteo getting increasingly more comfortable moving him around his defensive diamond. He announced his motivation to be for a new contract with Schalke in the summer, so outsiders should start evaluating him as a Bayern transfer rather than a Bayern player.
On His Way
Joshua Kimmich, RB Leipzig
On loan from VfB Stuttgart, Kimmich made his 12th league start for RB Leipzig, but unable to make up for what was very poor defending behind him. Erzgebirge Aue got in behind several times, and Kimmich found himself scrambling back to help pick up the mess. He was the one responsible for starting the play for Leipzig, but he had a tough day, completing just 74 percent of his passes. He will be a critical part of how Leipzig progresses up the table as the club is right in the thick of the promotion race.
Buy Back Brigade
Raif Husic, SV Werder Bremen
Trying to ensure Bremen's survival, Viktor Skripnik was very active in the January transfer window, acquiring five players. That included two goalkeepers – Koen Casteels on loan from Wolfsburg and Michael Zetterer's purchase from SpVgg Unterhaching – guaranteeing that Husic will remain with the reserves. The 19-year-old is still incredibly raw, but will now have to develop quickly to ward off Zetterer for a starting spot.
Alessandro Schöpf, 1. FC Nürnberg
The more minutes Schöpf gets at Nürnberg, the more comfortable he appears on the pitch. While unable to power Nürnberg passed FSV Frankfurt, he made some key passes in the final third that set up some scoring chances. The tactical setup is not ideal for the position he plays, so he will have to have more of a commanding presence to have a bigger impact on the matches.
Diego Contento, Girondins de Bordeaux
Now back to full fitness, Contento has developed into Willy Sagnol's primary defensive options, but the full playing time has exposed Contento's mediocre's skill set. He does have the defensive instincts to be in the right position, but he cannot close down the ball. His saving grace is his attacking presence, and he is not shy about pushing the ball forward. His three yellow cards in his last three matches will suspend him for Bordeaux's key match against Saint Étienne, and it is clear his defense has to improve.