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Top 10 surprise stars of the 2018/19 Bundesliga season

BFW’s Marcus Iredahl rates the top ten players who positively surprised us this Bundesliga season.

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As yet another fantastic Bundesliga comes to an end, one can’t help but reminisce about another great year of German domestic football. As in every football season, the standout performances this season often came from the most unexpected sources. This list is not meant to rank the top 10 best players of the season, but rather to credit those players who surpassed the expectations set for them before the season. Hence, established superstars such as Robert Lewandowski or Marco Reus won’t be mentioned on this list.

The top 10 disappointments of the Bundesliga will be come soon, so stay tuned and enjoy!

10: Kevin Stöger, Fortuna Düsseldorf

Veteran Friedhiem Funkel has done a splendid job with Fortuna Düsseldorf and the art-center of the Ruhr currently find themselves in 11th place, safe from relegation. Kevin Stöger, who Fortuna bought from Bochum this season, has been one of the standouts on an impressive, well-drilled Düsseldorf side. The central midfielder, who started his career as a winger, has 7 assists to his name and is the highest-rated Fortuna player according to Kicker. Considering he has no caps for his native Austria, Stöger and Fortuna’s success this season has come as a surprise for most.

9: Florian Neuhaus, Borussia Mönchengladbach

Florian played vital part in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s promotion campaign last season, but many were still surprised by how well the 22-year-old midfielder has performed in his first season for the Die Fohlen. Playing all but one game for Dieter Hecking’s side, the central midfielder has managed to score 3 goals and produce 8 assists. All though he has been capped by Germany’s under 21 side, Neuhaus successful season should raise the eyebrows of Jogi Löw.

8: Serge Gnabry, Bayern Munich

The only Bayern player on this list. Hailed as the biggest surprise of the season by Uli Hoeneß, Gnabry has managed to play 29 games under Niko Kovac, scoring 10 goals and assisting 7. Although the winger had a great last season with Hoffenheim, it came as a surprise for many the way he was able to raise his game even further and become a regular starter for Kovac’s side. Given Bayern’s constant injuries on the wing and the departure of “Robbery,” Gnabry’s progression will ease many Bayern supporters’ minds, as he seems poised to advance from a budding talent to a world-class winger.

7: Milot Rashica, Werder Bremen

What a break-out season for the young Kosovo international! Rashica’s first full season with the Die Werderaner has been outstanding. His creative and technical play contributed massively to the success of Bremen’s entertaining side. Rashica has 8 goals and 5 assists to his name this season and one may wonder whether he has a future elsewhere.

6: Maximilian Eggestein, Werder Bremen

The second and last Bremen player on this list. “Maxi” has been a regular starter before this season. However, this successful Bremen campaign has really highlighted the talent of the Hanover native. The dynamic box-to-box midfielder has been vital for Florian Kohfeldt’s side and, just like his teammate Rashica, it is very possible that Eggestein’s future lies outside Bremen’s border.

5: Ibrahima Konate, RB Leipzig

Yet another standout young talent on this list. Ibrahima Konate has been essential to Rangnick’s excellent defensive side, who has managed to keep 16 clean sheets, the highest of any team. Ibrahima is only 19 years old, yet he has proved that he can compete with the very best. His athleticism and overall mature playing style are highly impressive considering he turns 20 next weekend. Being the vital part of a three-man defense and striking an excellent partnership with Willi Orban, Konate has introduced himself this season as one of the biggest defensive talents in the world.

4: Ishak Belfodil, Hoffenheim

It is quite surprising that Ishak Belfodil debuted for Lyon in the 2008-09 season. The now 27-year-old was regarded as one of many new French talents, yet his career never took off as many thought as he never managed to stay in one club for more than 2 seasons after his Lyon debut. Julian Nagelsmann should get a lot of credit for showcasing that Belfodil still has loads of talent. The Algerian international has scored 15 goals this season, his highest tally ever.

3: Luka Jovic, Eintracht Frankfurt

What more is there to say about Serbian international? 17 goals in the league plus another 8 in Europe speaks volumes. Luka’s calmness in front of goal is quite remarkable for a player who turned 21 only in December. Hopefully, Frankfurt can keep a hold of him, as his breakout season has caught the attention of Europe’s finest clubs.

2: Kai Havertz, Bayer Leverkusen

Yes, I know Kai Havertz has been considered one of Germany’s brightest talent for a couple of years, but the Aachen native raised his game significantly this year. Before this, season Kai had managed to score 7 goals; this season the 19-year-old has scored 16 goals, which for a midfielder is an impressive feat. The arrival of the offensive coach Peter Bosz only intensified Kai’s progression. The tall, lanky midfielder is now linked with Bayern, and it comes as no surprise as after this season he can’t be regarded as a mere talent anymore, but one of the Bundesliga’s best players.

1: Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund

Who else? Jadon Sancho’s second season in the Bundesliga will have Manchester City kicking themselves, as they let him go for only £8 million. 11 goals and 14 assists speak for themselves, and it has been a joy to watch the young Englishmen this season. His incredible technique and speed with the ball have made him a fan favorite at the Westfalenstadion. All credit should go to Dortmund, who not only managed to buy a cheap gem, but also has been crucial in Sancho’s progression. The sky is the limit for this lad.

Honorable mentions:

1. Dodi Lukebakio (Fortuna Düsseldorf)

2. Alexander Nübel (Schalke 04)

3. Florian Grillitsch (TSG Hoffenheim)

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