De Bruyne to Wolfsburg and other Transfer News

With the re-start to the Bundesliga season kicking off Friday, clubs are still maneuvering to improve their rosters for the second half of the 2013/2014 campaign.  VfL Wolfsburg, currently fifth in the table, made the biggest splash in the week’s transfer signings by inking Chelsea’s Kevin De Bruyne for a fee of £17 million  Meanwhile, Mainz, Hamburg and Hoffenheim have added players to hopefully give them a competitive edge in the Ruckrunde.

Wolfsburg Acquires De Bruyne

It had been rumored that Kevin De Bruyne, the 22 year-old Belgian who played so well last season while on loan to Werder Bremen, would be returning to Germany, and indeed, the financial clout in the Volkswagen City has made that happen.  Being unable to find a consistent role for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side, De Bruyne has signed a five-year deal with the Wolves, instantly making them a favorite for a European berth next season.

The offensive-minded midfielder began his professional career with KRC Genk in 2008 before signing with Chelsea in January, 2012, although he remained with Genk for the rest of the 2011/2012 season.  He featured for the London club in its American summer tour against the Seattle Sounders and PSG before being loaned to Werder Bremen in August. There he established himself as a rising star by appearing in 34 matches, scoring 10 goals while providing 11 assists as the struggling side was able to stave off relegation.  De Bruyne’s performance for the north German club earned him the Bundesliga Young Player of the Year Award.  Returning to Chelsea this past summer, he got on the pitch for nine games in all competitions.

The young midfielder commented on his move back to Germany

It was clear from the start that Wolfsburg would be the first team I talk to if Chelsea gave me permission.   That’s why I’m very happy that this transfer has been completed. Klaus Allofs and Dieter Hecking are building a very good team at VfL with a lot of potential. I want to play my part, make sure we continue to be successful, and return to the international stage

De Bruyne has scored 27 goals and added 48 assists in his 155 senior squad club matches in Belgium. England and Germany.  He has also earned 17 caps for the Belgian national team that is headed to Brazil this summer for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  German clubs Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Schalke were also said to have an interest in signing the young Belgian star, but as Leverkusen Sporting Director Rudi Voller said, “we cannot compete with Wolfsburg’s spending power.”

The signing of De Bruyne, coupled with the August acquisition of Bayern Munich’s Luis Gustavo, indicates that Wolfsburg’s ambitions are on the rise.  They begin the season’s second term by hosting Hannover 96 this coming Saturday.

Ja-Cheol Koo Joins Mainz

South Korean international Ja-Cheol Koo signs a four and a half-year contract with Mainz from VfL Wolfsburg.  The 24 year-old midfielder came to Germany from Korean club Jeju United in January, 2011, signing a four-year contract with the Wolves, with whom he’s featured in 32 Bundesliga matches.  Koo has made his German reputation, however, while on loan with FC Augsburg, where he’s scored eight times, with three assists, in 36 league contests.  He played a central role last season in Augsburg’s rise from almost-certain relegation during the Ruckrunde.

According to Mainz Coach Thomas Tuchel

He is a very tough, versatile player with exceptional technical qualities and a high work rate.  His way of playing football and his character make him a very good addition to our team. I’m very happy that we’ve managed to complete this transfer, as he can give our team an extra boost

The 6-footer has earned 34 caps for South Korea, scoring 12 times, including five goals in the 2011 Asian Cup tournament.  He also serves as captain of the South Korean squad.

Hoffenheim Bring In Hamad and Haberer

Hoffenheim have signed 23 year-old winger Jiloan Hamad through June, 2017 on a free transfer from Swedish side Malmö FF. Hamad captained the club during their 2013 Allsvenskan championship season and was named the 2013 Allsvenskan midfielder of the year.  Joining Malmö from BK Forward in 2008, the Azerbaijan-born Hamad scored 28 times in 158 matches in all competitions, including Europa League contests, and has earned eight senior caps for Sweden’s national team.

Said Hoffenheim’s Sporting Director Alexander Rosen

Jiloan Hamad is a young, ambitious player who can still develop, and he has already underlined his ability in Sweden. He can play in a variety of positions across the midfield and we’re delighted that he’s decided to join us.

Hoffenheim also announced the signing of 19 year-old Janik Haberer from 3. Liga side SpVgg Unterhaching.  The German U-20 midfielder will join Hoffenheim this summer.  Rosen referred to the youngster as “a highly talented player whose character also fits with the club, Despite his age he is one of the stand-out players in the third division. We want to introduce him to the challenges of the Bundesliga and we are delighted that he has chosen to join TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.”

HSV Add Ola John

Hamburger SV have added 21 year-old winger Ola John on loan from Benfica for the remainder of the season.  The Liberian-born attacker has lived in the Netherlands since the age of two.  He joined FC Twente’s youth academy and found a spot in Twente’s senior squad’s starting XI during the 2011/2012 season.  He scored 10 goals, with 23 assists, in all competitions for the Dutch side before signing a five-year deal with Benfica in May, 2012.  He’s totalled 5 goals and 8 assists in 51 matches for the Portuguese club.  After playing for Dutch national youth sides, he received a callup to play for the Netherlands’ senior national team in 2012 from Bert van Marwijk, now Hamburg’s coach.  He is seen as a replacement for the injured Maximilian Beister,  According to van Marwijk,  “I know Ola well and I’m confident he’ll make us stronger.”

John’s brother Paddy played in Germany for VfL Osnabrück during the 2011/2012 season and his older brother Collins had a long stint with Fulham in the EPL.

Hildebrand Contract not Extended by Schalke

FC Schalke 04 have announced that they will not be extending the contract of veteran goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand, which expires this summer.  The 34 year-old made 39 Bundesliga appearances for Schalke since being acquired during the middle of the 2011/2012 season, but lost his starting position to Ralf Fährmann, 25, during the latter stages of the Hinrunde.  Hildebrand began his professional career with VfB Stuttgart in 1999 and was the regular goalkeeper on their 2006/2007 Bundesliga championship team.


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Gerry Wittmann

Gerry is the founder of the Bundesliga Fanatic. Besides loving German football, he also enjoys the NBA, collecting jerseys and LPs, his pets and wishes he had more time for fishing, bicycling and learning the bass guitar.

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