Welcome back to the Bundesliga Preview for 2023/24, where we will be going position by position and ranking the top players that the league has to offer. Entering the final leg of the marathon now, we are ranking the best attackers, starting with the right wingers. The league may not have the best wingers around but the top spots have got some heavy hitters — and not just on Bayern Munich.
20. Jan Thielmann (FC Köln)
Thielmann is an underrated player, especially when the ball is given to him in the air and he has the opportunity to hit it hard. It remains to be seen how much game time he will get this season however.
19. Linton Maina (FC Köln)
Thielmann’s main rival for game time, Maina has proved himself down the right flank too, and the two will likely split the minutes pretty evenly over the course of the season.
18. Patrick Herrmann (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Herrmann is eternal. One forgets he’s still around and then all of a sudden he’s coming off the bench 60 minutes into your favourite team’s game against Gladbach.
17. Robert Skov (TSG Hoffenheim)
Skov has been used everywhere on the pitch by Hoffenheim, but is often most useful at right wing, where he is able to utilise his two-footed nature well by offering himself as a threat to cross on his slightly weaker right foot while also teasing the cut-in.
16. Nathan Ngoumou (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
This may seem unusually high for a player with barely any first team minutes under his belt prior to this season, but Ngoumou has a spark about him that can’t quite be described. Watch this space.
15. Julien Duranville (Borussia Dortmund)
A bit of a meme amongst Dortmund fans for barely having shown up since being signed, Duranville has shown signs of great potential in the little time he’s had to showcase himself at Anderlecht.
14. Nathan Tella (Bayer Leverkusen)
While Tella is unlikely to get a lot of minutes in Leverkusen’s current system, there is a clear reason Xabi Alonso wanted to get him. Tella shares many of the qualities Jeremie Frimpong does in the final third, making him an ideal backup for the right wing-back. Tella is more direct than Frimpong too, which could offer some different ideas in attack if needed.
13. Roland Sallai (SC Freiburg)
Sallai is a hard player to describe. He’s not aerially gifted but somehow he’s still got a healthy heading record. He’s not lightning fast but he is still able to out-speed players when it matters. He isn’t particularly gifted technically but he is capable of magic in moments. It all comes from his brain, as Sallai is just a really smart attacker above all else.
12. Ermedin Demirović (FC Augsburg)
Augsburg’s shiniest new attacker, Demirović joined last season and has been an instant success, causing havoc down his flank and through the centre when called upon. Demirović’s pace and ability on the ball make him a problem for all kinds of full backs, and his ability to drift into narrow spaces unmarked is tailor-made to disrupt the marking of double pivot systems.
11. Václav Černý (VfL Wolfsburg)’
Another top signing from Wolfsburg, Černý is a high potential player who has already shown his class for Twente with some ridiculous final third play: particularly his passing and dribbling in tight spaces, which is a joy to watch. Černý has an eye for a pass from behind the lines too. Overall, a very tight package creatively.
10. Ansgar Knauff (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Knauff’s potential is difficult to quantify, as at times he seems like he has all the world-beating potential that Borussia Dortmund originally fast-tracked his development for, but at other times he is just wildly inconsistent, even poor. However his mean performance over the last few years has still been good.
9. Silas (VfB Stuttgart)
Stuttgart have a revolver on their right-hand holster and the bullet that shoots out of it is Silas. His speed and ability to keep control of the ball while running at those speeds can only be described as ‘stupid’. This combined with his ability to make smart decisions while on the move and even the occasional moment of magic from deep make him the perfect wildcard player.
8. Takuma Asano (VfL Bochum)
The man that broke millions of German hearts with his goal at the World Cup is a player who was bred in the German system with stints at Stuttgart and Hannover 96 under his belt prior to his transfer on a permanent basis to Bochum. Asano is gifted on the ball and a hard worker off it. He is a problem for any left-back in the world as he simply will not let go even if there is the slightest chance of him winning the ball back or getting past his man.
7. Amine Adli (Bayer Leverkusen)
Adli may be short of minutes as of now due to Alonso’s changing system, but he is a top talent with some very bright years ahead of him. Adli’s versatility allows him to play down the left or even up front too, but the right side still seems to be his most viable position.
6. Ritsu Dōan (SC Freiburg)
Dōan is a pain. That is all I can really say. He never gives up on a loose ball, he never stops chasing, and he never stops being dangerous when he wins the ball back. Dōan is quick, sharp with his decisions, smart enough to know when he’s cornered and can’t progress, but committed enough to never stop trying. Dōan is capable of some brilliance when he gets the ball too, with a wide range of passing abilities, as well as a dangerous cut-in and shot.
5. Franck Honorat (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
It seems Honorat may be used as more of a striker by Gladbach, but I believe his best position is out wide. Honorat was one of the best wingers in France for the last few years, although his form did drop off in the last year or so. Either way, he’s still got those magical abilities in his locker. Honorat is one of the best set piece takers in the league, both indirect and direct, cultivating a catalogue of great goals and assists from free kicks at Stade Brestois alongside some ridiculous ones from open play too.
4. Patrick Wimmer (VfL Wolfsburg)
Wimmer is fast, strong, and unwilling to give an inch of space to the player in front of him. While Wimmer is not as measured on the ball as some of the other players on this list, he is still a danger as when he gets the ball he always looks to play it forward and often finds players in dangerous positions when he does. Beyond that, he is able to drift narrow and finish chances himself too.
3. Donyell Malen (Borussia Dortmund)
This is going to get laughed out the park, but no matter. Malen is a quality player who has had some rotten luck. Malen may not be the best creator on this list by any stretch of the imagination, but he is a direct threat with his drifts into narrow areas and movement off the ball to drag players around. Malen’s got some great feet on him too. He is able to win his 1-on-1s consistently and can get away good shots too, although his finishing is a little rough at times.
2. Jonas Hofmann (Bayer Leverkusen)
It is criminal that Hofmann had a €10m release clause, and no one thought to activate it until now. Hofmann is the best pure wide man in the league, with the defensive acumen to harass wingers and wing backs, and the offensive nous to look for and find the right options all the time. Under Xabi Alonso, he has found himself in a narrower role as a fulcrum for build-up in advanced areas, and has continued to flourish. A world-class player.
1. Leroy Sané (Bayern Munich)
There was no other option.
Leroy Sané is not only the best right winger in the league, but he is the best right winger in the world right now, and a good contender for the very best player in the world. Sané is one of the fastest players in the league, one of the best players in the league cutting through tight spaces and multiple players, one of the best passers into space in the league, and one of the hardest-working players anywhere in Europe. He tracks back to cover for the right-back and from set pieces to defend against counters more often than any winger in Europe.
This is all without even mentioning Sané’s intangibles. He has an aura and confidence to him that is only seen in the very best players in history; he just knows that he will beat his man and does it. All of this combined with a relentless urge to drag defenders here and there with his disruptive runs make him a direct threat, as shown with his goals against Werder Bremen, the own goal he created against FC Augsburg, as well as the near miss against Gladbach.
It remains to be seen if Sané will continue this rich vein of form, as if the last two seasons have taught us anything, it’s to never trust Sané’s form in the first half of the season. He was in the conversation for being the best player in the world during the first half of both 2021/22 and 2022/23 before dropping off the face of the Earth in the latter half of the season.