Particularly busy have been 1.FSV Mainz 05, where there has been no shortage of headlines. First, highly regarded midfielder Johannes Geis opted to move to Schalke over Ruhr rivals Borussia Dortmund after coming of age at the Coface Arena. The carnival side responded almost immediately by pursuing Basel’s midfielder Fabian Frei, persuading him to ditch Champions League football with the Swiss side next season to join the ranks of a Bundesliga mid-table side. Next, the club’s Sporting Director, Christian Heidel,was not pleased, to say the least, with the club’s Chilean defender Gonzalo Jara and his misbehavior in the Copa America semifinal match against Uruguay, and is now entertaining offers to offload the defender after his embarrassing actions.
But right now the departure of Mainz fan favorite Shinji Okazaki, who bid a farewell at Mainz following his big money transfer to Leicester City, is a cause for concern for Mainz supporters (while also giving food for thought for all Bundesliga fans concerning the financial barrier of German clubs comparing to their English Premier League equivalents). The all-time Japanese top-scorer in the Bundesliga, Okazaki made quite an impression at Die Nullfünfer after struggling for playing time in his final year at Stuttgart. While Okazaki fell out of favor with the Swabians, a youngster by the name of Maximilian Beister was fast becoming one of the more promising youngsters in the league with Hamburger SV. But as Okazaki regained his scoring form when he moved to Mainz, it was Beister who hit hard times, sitting on the sidelines for a total of 301 days (51 matches) due to successive injury setbacks. It was hard to get going at relegation-threatened Hamburg once he eased his injury worries, and a change for the attacker likely had to come sooner than later. That change became reality when Mainz come calling for the services of Beister, as they unveiled him only days after Okazaki’s move to the EPL was made official.
Since joining the Red Shorts at the age of 14, Beister progressed all the way through the club’s ranks, but two seasons on loan at second-division Fortuna Düsseldorf provided the big leap to reaching regular playing time at the traditional club when the loan period ended. Düsseldorf were promoted back to top-flight football after fifteen years absence in 2011-12, with the diminutive winger playing a major part with in the club’s upswing as he provided 11 goals and 13 assists to help the Flingeraner finish the regular season third in the Bundesliga 2. standings. Hertha Berlin were favorites in the relegation/promotion playoff, but Norbert Meier’s side pulled off a huge upset, with Beister on the score-sheet in the all-important second-leg triumph.
Only a year later, Berlin and Düsseldorf switched leagues once more, as the capital side made an immediate return to the Bundesliga while Düsseldorf went into freefall in the Rückrunde that saw them relegated back to the second-division. For Beister personally, though, the storyline was very different. Returning to Hamburg and Volksparkstadion, the U-21 international provided promise for the HSV faithful (with the exception of his ill-fated red-card against Augsburg). Starting from the right-wing position in 2012/2013, Beister become lethal with darting runs and unstoppable shots, which was on display as he scored his first ever goal for the Dinosaurs when he unleashed an absolute belter against Schalke.
The next season started on an even more positive note for Beister, as he scored in the entertaining high-scoring curtain-raiser at Schalke, and he even went on to score four in five games when the fixtures come thick and fast in mid-October. Only missing a single game – due to five yellow card suspension – in the overall Hinrunde, Beister was involved in most of Hamburg’s promising attacks. That’s why there were plenty of concerns at Hamburg camp when he sustained a cruciate ligament rupture injury during the mid-season preparations, and he couldn’t make a return that season. While the young attacker sat on the sidelines, Hamburg barely avoided relegation via relegation/promotion playoff win against Greuther Fürth.
Further injury setback was about to follow in the coming season, as mensical damage ruled him out of action until January 2015, effectively missing the whole first half of the season. Although he made his first appearance in over a year in a home defeat against Köln, playing time was hard to come by for the rest of the season, as Hamburg once again went all the way to the relegation/promotion playoff to secure their long-standing status in the Bundesliga. With HSV teammates Jonathan Tah choosing the road Beister followed by joining second-tier Fortuna Düsseldorf, Bayern-loanee Julian Green hardly find any playing time at Hamburg, and Pierre-Michel Lasogga unable to duplicate the standard he’d set the season before, Hamburg in 2014/2015 did not provide a welcoming atmosphere for young players to develop.
Thus it was no surprise when Beister left Hamburg to join Mainz, a side well-known for nurturing young talents and financially benefiting from their outgoing transfers over the years. Beister, 24, is not an anonymous figure in German football, by no means, but it should be a great place to restart his career, hopefully putting his long-standing injuries behind him. A potential return to Düsseldorf was rumored since the end of the season, but Mainz are definitely a better option, and an upgrade, in the sense that the 05ers finished in higher places than Hamburg in the final standings of four of the last five seasons.
Obviously Shinji Okazaki’s boots could be difficult to fill, and the officials at Mainz are trying to ease the pressure on Beister, stating that he was not bought to be a like-for-like replacement for the Japanese international. Although Beister normally played from wide positions at Hamburg, a shift to a more advanced striker role is still an option. With Mainz already acquiring six new players for next season, including fellow forward Yoshinori Muto, there will certainly be competition for places. Since his unfortunate injury layoff, things haven’t been going according to plan for Beister, but a fresh start at Mainz may provide a real turnaround in fortunes for the talented, fleet-footed attacker.
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