Back to the drawing board

Klaus Allofs has been hard at work creating the Werder Bremen squad for next season.

The last two seasons have been rather disappointing from the standpoint of the Werder Bremen board and the club’s fans alike. Thomas Schaaf’s midfield diamond showed at best great attacking football in the past, but the last two seasons have exposed the various weaknesses of this system more often than the longest-serving Bundesliga coach would have wished for.

Re-vamping the squad

The green and whites failing to qualify for an international competition for the second season running, for the first time in over 30 years, has put some financial pressure on the club. Werder Bremen had to make up for their revenue loss by letting some of their better earners go. Tim Wiese, Sebastian Boenisch, Mikaël Silvestre, Tim Borowski, Marko Marin, Claudio Pizarro and Markus Rosenberg have all left the club. Per Mertesacker moved to Arsenal already at the beginning of last season.

Sporting director Klaus Allofs is currently trying to make up for these losses by investing into younger players. The biggest signings Allofs has made in recent years are Marko Arnautovic, Mehmet Ekici and the Brazilian Wesley, spending almost 20 million euros in transfer fees for those three players.

Both the officials at the club and the fans would agree that Werder have very little to show for the 20 million euros invested in those players. Now the pressure is on Allofs to find the right formula on the transfer market once again. The sporting director has already brought in Fortuna Düsseldorf defender Assani Lukimya and Czech right back Theodor Gebre Selassie. Bayern striker Nils Petersen has signed a loan deal, and Werder have also used their purchase option for Greek defender Sokratis. Raphael Wolf and Richard Strebinger have been brought in as goalkeepers, Wolf is probably going to fight Sebastian Mielitz for the place between the sticks in the preparation leading up to the season. The Werder side for the 2012/13 season is slowly falling into place.

Both Tuttosport and Bild write that Eljero Elia might be on his way to Werder Bremen.

Eljero Elia the final piece in the puzzle?

Juventus winger Eljero Elia has already impacted the lives of Werder Bremen’s players. Back in his HSV days Elia caught a skin infection after getting a new tattoo, causing Allofs and Thomas Schaaf to take a drastic measure: Players who are getting tattooed during the season are now punished with a hefty fine.

Elia might actually have an impact on the team on the pitch as well as it turns out. Bild reported on Saturday that Werder Bremen had made an offer for the Dutch international. The club wants to loan Elia for a season, attaching a purchasing clause to the winger’s contract. Klaus Allofs is facing difficult negotiations, given that Juventus rather would like to sell Elia for 7.5 million euros.

In the 2011/12 season Elia played only four matches for Juventus, and a total of 120 minutes. Elia told Bild that he isn’t happy about getting left out of the starting line up:

I have to start all over again somewhere else. I want to play again.

A new tactical approach?

Given Bremen’s tactical approach for the last couple of seasons, Elia would be an odd signing, not fitting Schaaf’s tactical concept too well, as Bild point out. That would different if Schaaf changed his tactics, however.

A number of Werder’s players are used to the 4-2-3-1 formation. Tom Trybull for instance had to play on the left-wing for the second part of Werder’s season, despite being more at home in holding midfield. Mehmet Ekici struggled with the lone playmaker role behind the strikers, due to the lack of support at times, and his inability to find his way in Schaaf’s diamond. Marko Arnautovic has been used to great effect on the wing before. In the 2008/09 season he played 28 matches, scoring 12 goals and creating 6 assists when he played for FC Twente in the Eredivisie. The other winger in the Twente line up that season was coincidentally Eljero Elia, who managed to score 9 goals in addition to providing 6 assists.

Klaus Allofs has so far provided the players for this change in system, and now it is up to Schaaf to decide wether or not Bremen are going to roll that way next season.

Take a look at how Bremen potentially will line up, should they purchase Elia and change their system:

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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