Five reasons to watch German football this year
AHEAD of the start of the 2016-17 Bundesliga season tomorrow, AFP Sports takes a look at the five biggest incoming transfers of the close season in Germany:
Alen Halilovic (CRO) Barcelona (ESP) to Hamburg, 5 million euros (US$5.6m) Halilovic was 16 when he made his professional debut for Dinamo Zagreb and having been billed as Croatia’s ‘next big thing’, he was snapped up by Barcelona in May 2014.
The attacking midfielder scored four goals in 29 matches for Barcelona B over the course of the 2014-15 campaign, but made just one Copa del Rey appearance for the first team.
On loan at Sporting Gijon, his injection of class meant he made 36 appearances in 2015-16, netting three goals and five assists to earn the the nickname ‘Guajlilovic’, a play on ‘El Guaje’ (the Kid).
The 20-year-old missed out on a place in Croatia’s Euro 2016 squad, but scored his first goal for Hamburg in their 1-0 win at Zwickau on August 22 in the German Cup – eight minutes after coming off the bench.
“That I scored with my first chance is really great. I hope that more goals will follow,” he said after his debut in the Cup’s first round.
Ousmane Dembele (FRA) Rennes (FRA) to Borussia Dortmund, reportedly 15 million euros ($16.8m) The 18-year-old winger joined Rennes as a 13-year-old in 2010 and only made his French league debut in November 2015, but is already one of France’s brightest talents.
He has said his dream is to play for Barcelona and last season he scored 12 goals in 26 French league games, including a hat-trick in the derby against Nantes last March.
Dembele was named France’s Young Player of the Year for 2015-16 and can play on either wing.
He announced himself for Dortmund with a stunning goal in a 4-1 win against Manchester United on their tour of China last month.
“Dembele uses both his feet and has great dribbling skills. He can do anything,” said Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.
Renato Sanches (POR) Benfica (POR) to Bayern Munich, 35 million euros ($39.2m) The 19-year-old defensive midfielder is already a European champion having helped Portugal win the Euro 2016 title.
Despite standing a modest 1.76m, he has plenty of pace and power and has completed a meteoric rise in the past 12 months.
He netted his first goal for Benfica last December, then made his Portugal debut in a 2-1 defeat to Bulgaria in March.
At 18 years and 328 days, he broke Cristiano Ronaldo’s record as the youngest player to appear in a European Championship final and picked up the award for the Young Player of the tournament.
Having signed for Bayern in May, his future employers were pleased to have tied him down to a five-year deal before his breakthrough in France.
“He has extraordinary talents. Bayern would not have been able to afford him had we tried to sign him after the Euros,” said Bayern chair Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Mario Gomez Fiorentina (ITA) to VfL Wolfsburg, reportedly 7 million euros ($7.9m) After three years spent abroad, the Bundesliga’s most prolific striker in the last ten years is back in Germany.
Since the 2006-07 season, Gomez has scored 132 goals in 197 German league games making him the Bundesliga’s top scorer over the last decade.
Gomez has adapted his game and proved he can create chances as well as finish them when his crisp cross led to Mesut Ozil’s goal in the quarterfinals of Euro 2016.
He won the 2007 Bundesliga title with Stuttgart before signing for Bayern Munich for a then-record 30 million euros in 2009 and was the league’s top scorer with 28 goals in 2010-11.
He lost his place in the 2012-13 season, when Bayern won the treble, and a move to Fiorentina backfired, as he scored just seven times in two seasons in Italy and was left out of Germany’s triumphant 2014 World Cup squad.
But a reinvigorating loan spell at Besiktas saw him finish as the Turkish league’s top scorer last season with 26 goals in 33 appearances.
His aim for the 2016-17 season is to get Wolfsburg back in the Champions League.
“The team and I both share the same hunger to be successful,” he said.
Marc Bartra (ESP) Barcelona (ESP) to Borussia Dortmund for 8 million euros ($9m) Bartra made his Barcelona debut under Pep Guardiola in February 2010 and has won the Champions League twice, the Spanish league title five times and the Club World Cup.
But having made just 59 appearances in seven seasons at Barcelona, his best spell the 2013-14 campaign when he played 20 times in Spain’s top flight, he found himself relegated to third- or fourth-choice centre-back under Luis Enrique.
His quest for regular first-team football has brought him to Germany and with Carles Puyol as his agent, he has a Spanish legend in his corner.
Bartra has plenty of pace and is known for his smooth passing.
He is good in the air and can also play at right-back, providing Thomas Tuchel with plenty of options. –
Argentina’s Lionel Messi (centre) battles through what appears to be the entire Chilean defence during the Copa America Centenario final in East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States, on June 26.