On Tuesday, Werder Bremen announced their acquisition of 1. FC Köln fan favorite Anthony Ujah and a new four-year contract with the striker, ending Ujah’s three-year run with the Billy Goats.
Despite rumors of Ujah moving to Bremen first surfacing shortly after Werder’s Davie Selke signed with RB Leipzig just over a month ago, there had been little indication that the main man in Köln’s offensive attack was looking to leave the Cathedral City.
News of Ujah’s departure has left Köln somewhat in a state of shock, not only for having arrived seemingly from nowhere, but also due to the method and timing of the announcement.
A photo from Werder Bremen’s Instagram account depicted the player fans have come to affectionately call a proper “Kölsche Jung” (Cologne Guy) standing beneath a sign that reads “100% Werder.” As the imagery circulates with the transfer news, Ujah quickly transitioned from “Unser Tünn” (our Ton’) to a virtual pariah in the span of just a few hours. Fans went from questioning the wisdom of coach Peter Stöger having pulled the striker early in the second half at Augsburg Saturday to proclaiming that Ujah should not be allowed to suit up for the FC in any of the remaining three matches.
Given that Ujah is responsible for ten of Köln’s 30 goals this season, and given that the club’s place in next year’s league not yet clinched, it’s difficult to imagine Ujah being set aside completely, despite the rising tide of antipathy toward the player among a once-adoring public. Even if you consider Köln’s chances of dropping into relegation to be almost non-existent, professional footballers often end seasons knowing they have one foot out the clubhouse door, playing out the string for soon-to-be-former employers.
That is, a new contract and poorly considered timing and choice of location for a photograph do not necessarily remove the dedication to accomplishment as a professional. One need look no further afield than the aforementioned Selke to see the truth behind that notion, as the youngster has scored in three of Werder’s last four matches since news of his departure was made public.
Köln central defender Dominic Maroh is hoping EffZeh fans can move on from the disappointment of Ujah’s transfer to support the club, including Ujah, as it fights to secure their end-season goals.
“Tony has helped us a lot the last three years. He was taken into the hearts of many, and on Sunday that should not be forgotten,” said Maroh in discussing the situation with Kicker.de. “I hope and wish that the spectators respect that and give him the needed appreciation and support, which he has absolutely earned, in these last three weeks.”
From the banks of the Weser river, meanwhile, Werder was only too happy to announce their first new acquisition for the coming transfer period, particularly in the wake of Selke’s departure and the continuing failure to come to terms on an extension with Franco Di Santo, who is entering the final year of his current deal.
“Anthony has a very good profile, plays with a lot of passion, a lot of drive, is very industrious, very strong on headers,” raved Werder’s Rouven Schröder of his new signing. “We are convinced that Anthony Ujah fits into our style of play.”
Ujah’s signing helps alleviate concern around the future of the Werder Bremen striker situation, leaving the club able to focus more intently on their goal of potentially leaping into Europa League placement, which lingers just one spot above Werder in the table, a tantalizing single point away.
Ujah had arrived to 1. FC Köln at the start of the 2012-13 season as a loanee from 1. FSV Mainz and led the club with 13 goals in their first season in the 2. Bundesliga after the prior season’s relegation, provoking the FC to pay Mainz their €2.3 million asking price.
Werder will reportedly pay €4.5 million to Köln to land Ujah.