Picking a Bundesliga Summer Transfer Targets XI
With the Bundesliga’s coverage and reputation growing by the year, more and more clubs around Europe look to Germany’s top division to find young exciting talent.
Last year’s Champions League final shed a big spotlight on German football, and the league’s continued dedication to youth development has made it ground zero for scouts at Europe’s top clubs.
As was the case four years ago, the World Cup will no doubt make scouts and managers everywhere attentive to unknown and undiscovered talent, but plenty of speculation already exists about some of the Bundesliga’s hottest properties.
GK: Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt to Juventus)
Since moving to Eintracht Frankfurt in 2012, Kevin Trapp has been one of the Bundesliga’s best performing goalkeepers. He has been one of the many names linked to replace legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon at Juventus.
According to German outlet Bild, as originally reported by Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport, Juventus have monitored Trapp for a while now. Bild reports that Trapp, whose contract with Frankfurt expires in 2016, has a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave a year early.
With Frankfurt struggling against relegation this season, Buffon’s contract running out and imminent retirement, a move for the 23-year-old makes sense for the Italian champions. Trapp is excellent on the ball because he played as an outfield player in his youth, he's great in one-on-one situations and he's mature beyond his years.
RB: Andreas Beck (Hoffenheim to Dynamo Moscow)
The Hoffenheim captain, Andreas Beck, who is Russian-born, has been a target for Russia’s top clubs for years. Now he may finally make the move east, according to Russian publication Sport-Express, as reported by Bild.
Of all clubs interested, Dynamo seem to be favorites with contact already having been made with Hoffenheim. Beck speaks fluent Russian and expressed an interest in playing there should the opportunity ever present itself.
Beck has featured at right-back for most of his career but can and has also played on the left when necessary. He is a tireless defender who likes to attack and does not shy away from throwing himself into tackles.
CB: Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona)
For almost two years now, Mats Hummels has been linked with a move to Barcelona. His technique, great vision and passing out of the back make for an obvious fit with the Catalan giants. Various injuries this season have quieted the rumors, but this week they resurfaced in Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo (via Inside Futbol).
It is no secret that Barcelona have been looking for further reinforcements in defense. With Carles Puyol heading closer to retirement and Marc Bartra’s inexperience, they have been left thin at the back.
Tito Vilanova dismissed the Hummels rumors last year, but with him having left and their defense’s recurring frailties exposed several times this season, the Dortmund and Germany player could well become an option again in the summer.
CB: Matthias Ginter (SC Freiburg to Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund)
Although Arsenal were rumored to be interested in the prodigious young defender last year, Freiburg were quick to slam the door shut and hold on to their jewel for another season. But Matthias Ginter’s continued improvement this season and his recent nomination to the senior German national team could make it impossible for Freiburg to keep him for another year.
This summer it could very well come down to a battle between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund for German football’s brightest defensive talent.
Last month, Bild reported that Germany’s record champions were very much interested and that Ginter himself admitted there had been contact with the club. But Freiburg also confirmed interest from Dortmund which could light another fire under the already heated rivalry between the two clubs.
The retirement of Daniel van Buyten, prolonged injury of Holger Badstuber and Dante’s age make center-back a highly sought after position for Bayern, while Dortmund’s continued injury worries and lack of depth mean defensive reinforcements are a must in the summer. Ginter’s ability to play in defense and in midfield only add to his value, and it will be interesting to see which club, if any, wins Ginter’s loyalty.
LB: Ricardo Rodriguez (VfL Wolfsburg to Chelsea)
David Alaba aside, Ricardo Rodriguez has been the best left-back in the Bundesliga this season. The Swiss international has five goals and seven assists in all competitions as Wolfsburg push for a Champions League spot.
Still only 21, Rodriguez has made massive strides since coming to Germany, which is why it is no surprise that “many clubs are interested in him,” according to his agent, per David Wright of the Express. Amongst those interested are Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea who look to replace the aging Ashley Cole.
Rodriguez is a physically imposing and intelligent full-back who also specializes at set pieces. He is Wolfsburg’s first-choice penalty and free-kick taker and one of their most influential players. In a market where great full-backs are hard to come by, Rodriguez is a rare commodity that will only get hotter should Switzerland perform well at the World Cup.
CM: Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich to Manchester United)
Toni Kroos’ contract extension has been one of the most drawn-out sagas in recent memory. The wrangling between the club and Kroos’ agent has been ongoing and lent itself to waves upon waves of transfer speculation.
Although Bayern vow to hold on to their player, his contract demands may just be asking too much in the end. The leverage is on Bayern’s side with a talented and deep squad with Manchester United and David Moyes keen to pounce and capitalize on a potential departure.
Moyes and the club scouted Kroos in January, as reported by The Guardian, and will continue to monitor the situation in Munich. One of United’s weak spots has been in central midfield, and Kroos’ composure and ability to dictate games is exactly what the club needs.
RW: Jonathan Schmid (SC Freiburg to Hertha Berlin)
After losing their four most important players last season, Freiburg have struggled this season and are mired in the relegation battle. One player they were able to hang on to was Jonathan Schmid who will be key to the club’s push for survival.
Unfortunately, that also means that the club faces another potential departure. Schmid faced a month-long injury layoff this season but has still been Freiburg’s best performer. His three goals and six assists have given the club a lifeline and Hertha Berlin a potential transfer target.
Bild reported this week that Schmid fits the bill of the type of right-winger Hertha are looking for as they reinforce the squad for a potential European campaign next season. Schmid is explosive with the ball, has a good eye for goal and is still only 23. Signing him would be a massive coup for the club that went from second division to potentially playing in Europe in a year.
CAM: Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim to Liverpool)
As reported by Paul Gorst of the Mirror, Liverpool are said to be interested in Hoffenheim’s exciting young Brazilian attacker Roberto Firmino. As the Reds continue to develop under Brendan Rodgers and plan for a potential European season ahead, Firmino has reportedly become a “top transfer target.”
Hoffenheim’s versatile and pacy attacking midfielder is currently enjoying the best run of form of his career. The 22-year-old has an incredible 17 goals and 13 assists in all competitions so far this season and has been an integral part of one of the league’s most exciting attacks.
Firmino’s contract runs out next year, but his blistering form and a push for a surprise inclusion in Brazil’s World Cup squad could make it impossible for Hoffenheim to hold on to him. His ability to play on either side of attack as well as up front make him the ideal fit for Rodger’s fluent young attacking style of play.
LW: Andre Hahn (Augsburg to Borussia Monchengladbach)
Andre Hahn has been one of the surprise packages of the season so far. His performances have powered Augsburg to their best-ever Bundesliga season and on course for Europe. His 10 goals and five assists have even earned him a nomination to the German national team ahead of their friendly against Chile next week.
With such performances come also the inevitable interest of bigger clubs. Bild reported last week that both Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach are after Hahn. His contract expires in 2016, but he can be acquired for a measly 2.25 Euros, a bargain considering his upside and form.
Although Dortmund are a bigger draw, Gladbach need Hahn more. Juan Arango’s age and potential departure means an immediate starting spot for the league’s quickest player. Hahn has played on the right for Augsburg but is just as comfortable on the left. Either way, it is difficult to imagine him at Augsburg for another season given his current form.
FW: Kevin Volland (Hoffenheim to Borussia Dortmund)
To almost everyone in Germany, it is just a matter of time before Kevin Volland leaves Hoffenheim for a bigger club. Although still just 21, the feeling is that he has already outgrown the club.
One of the names that continues to be linked with the versatile attacker is Borussia Dortmund. Just last month, Volland and Dortmund made the rounds in the German media, as reported by ESPNFC, as the transfer window came to a close.
Despite Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke playing down the rumors, it is believed Dortmund have Volland in mind in the summer as a potential replacement for Robert Lewandowski. Volland, who is comfortable up top, behind the striker or on either flank is a hard-working, all-action attacker with great technique and vision. In other words, he is tailormade for Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund.
FW: Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich to ?)
It is really difficult to speculate just which club would have the upper hand in what could be the biggest transfer tug of war of the summer.
Robert Lewandowski’s transfer to Bayern will likely mean that Mandzukic will be second choice at best, potentially even third if Guardiola continues with Mario Gotze in the “False Nine” position.
Mandzukic’s impressive performances at the 2012 UEFA European Championships led to a move to Bayern where he was crucial in their treble-winning campaign last season. He carried that into the new season with 19 goals and seven assists in all competitions. Ideally, Bayern would want to hold on to a player like Mandzukic, but it is doubtful he would accept a squad role at this stage of his career.
Follow Cristian on Twitter @cnyari