As the January transfer window enters its last week, Bundesliga clubs are scrambling to make signings that will affect not only the Ruckrunde for the title but also influence Germany’s representation in Europe next season. VfB Stuttgart stated their intention of grabbing one of those European berths by signing longtime Hoffeneheim striker Vedad Ibišević, while Werder Bremen have signed a young Swiss defender. Hamburger SV have added a Danish player. Hannover mean while have extended the contracts of two of their players.
Ibišević, 27, signed with VfB Stuttgart for an undisclosed transfer fee. The 27 year-old inked a deal that runs through 2016 with Bruno Labbadia’s club after passing a physical with the Swabians. This season at Hoffenheim he’s scored five goal in only 665 minutes after beginning the season sidelined by injury, creating 40 scoring chances for Hoffenheim while completing over 75% of his passes.
Injury seems the only thing that can keep Ibišević from being among the top Bundesliga goal-scoring leaders year after year. Signing his first professional contract with Paris Saint-Germain in 2004, the striker played for FCO Dijon and Alemannia Aachen before signing with Hoffenheim in July, 2007. Helping the former village team the final step of its meteoric rise the Germany’s top-tier, the 6’2″ striker became famous in the first half of the 2008-2009 season, scoring 18 goals in 17 of Hoffenheim’s debut in the first division, with Hoffenheim winning the Hinrunde before the season ending ACL injury suffered by Ibišević over winter break. Sitting out the second half of the season, Ibišević was back for the 2009-2010 campaign and has scored 64 goals, coupled with 22 assists, as a professional in 186 total matches in France and Germany. He has also represented his native Bosnia and Herzegovina in international play, scoring 8 times in 34 matches.
Ibišević joins a Stuttgart squad currently in 10th place in the table on 22 points. The club, which saw an improved Hinrunde performance compared to the last few seasons, has struggled with inconsistency and has been outscored thus far by seven Bundesliga clubs despite the presence of offensive talents such as Cacau, Martin Harnik, Tamas Hajnal, Shinji Okazaki, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Christian Gentner, Zdrako Kuzmanovic and Julian Schieber.
“I’m delighted the transfer has worked out. VfB is a massive club and an enormous amount of potential,” stated Ibišević. “I want to play my part in helping the club to move up the table in the not so distant future. I am particularly looking forward to the very special atmosphere in the Mercedes-Benz Arena.” Ironically, Stuttgart is the sister city of St. Louis, MO where the Bosnian international lived and played high school ball and was an All-American in his year at St. Louis University after briefly living in Switzerland after his family left Bosnia.
Stuttgart Director of Sport Fredi Bobic added that “We wanted to boost out attacking power and we have done so in the signing of Vedad Ibisevic. Everything involved in the transfer suited us and we were able to close the deal.” The new acquisition joined Stuttgart for training Wednesday and should be ready for Sunday’s daunting home fixture against Borussia Monchengladbach. Midfielder Timo Gebhart will definetely miss the MatchDay 19 contest, while Gentner and defender Khalid Boulahrouz were expected to train this week after being absent with injury.
It’s not a huge surprise that Ibišević has left Hoffenheim, as transfer rumors linking him to other clubs have bubbled up frequently over the last years. Coach Holger Stanislaski’s Hoffeneheim club strikes one as a team in transition. The three attacking heroes of Hoffenheim’s dazzling 2008-2009 debut are now gone, with Demba Ba starring for Newcastle United, Chinedu Obasi loaned this winter to Schalke and Ibišević at Stuttgart. Stanislawski seems to be rebuilding his squad around defender Andreas Beck, attackers Ryan Babel and Roberto Firmino and versatile German-born American internationals Daniel Williams and Fabian Johnson. The village-team will look to replicate its August victory against Borussia Dortmund this weekend.
Werder Bremen Sign Affolter
Werder Bremen have brought in help for their thin defensive ranks, acquiring Swiss defender François Affolter, 20, on loan from Young Boys. The club has the option of extending the deal for up to three and a half additional years next January.
Affolter, who turns 21 in March, has been a regular at Young Boys since 2008, making his debut as a 17 year-old, and has played 90 matches for the senior side after joining the reserve team in 2007. The native of Biel/Bienne made 14 appearances for Swiss national youth teams before debuting in 2010 on Ottmar Hitzfeld’s senior Swiss side, where he has earned four caps.
“We are very happy that Francois can join us immediately and we are certain that he will also help us in the short-term,” said manager Klaus Allofs. Head coach Thomas Schaaf talked about the strengths of his new acquisition. “He is technically well-trained, is very quick and has a good overview. He has a certain calmness with the ball. He is a younger player with a lot of potential,” said Schaaf. Werder Bremen’s acquisition of the 6’2″ Affolter should prove a positive for the club as they seek a strong second half of the campaign leading to European football next season.
Hamburger SV Sign Young Danish Attacker
Sporting Director Frank Arnesen has made a move to expand the young talent base at Hamburg by buying the contract of 17 year-old Danish midfielder Christian Nørgaard. Reportedly transferred for 400,000 euros from Danish side Lyngby. AC Milan were tracking the youngster since his performance for Denmark in the U-17 European Championship qualifying campaign.
“Hamburg is a major challenge, which I am very pleased,” says Nørgaard. “For me is a dream come true and I am happy that the clubs could agree.” The Dane is a regular on his country’s U-19 squad now, and will join the growing number of young talents brought in to Hamburg since his arrival from Chelsea. Nørgaard will begin his Hamburg career training with the club’s U-23 squad.
Hannover Extends Contracts of Schmiedebach and Pander
Hannover 96 have extended the contract of midfielder Manuel Schmiedebach for an additional four-year while lengthening their deal with defender Christian Pander for another three seasons. Schmiedebach, 23, has played 1427 minutes for the 96ers during the campaign, completing almost 80% of his passes. Former Schalke man Pander, 28, is only five matches away from passing the century mark of games played in the Bundesliga. He has a goal and three assists in 931 minutes for Mirko Slomka’s side this season, while creating 49 chances.