Werder Bremen’s decision to hand the reins to Viktor Skripnik last October proved a master-stroke as the former youth team trainer turned around a faltering season and led the Grün-Weißen to within a whisker of qualifying for Europe.
The club do not have an endless transfer budget to strengthen their squad so it appears likely that alongside signings Anthony Ujah, Felix Wiedwald and Ulisses Garcia there will be some faith put in youth next season.
It’s understandable when you consider Skripnik’s deep working knowledge of the young talent in the youth ranks at the Weser Stadion, so let’s take a look at some faces hoping to be given their Bundesliga chances in the upcoming Bundesliga campaign.
Michael Zetterer (age 19)
It looks very much like it will be a battle between the returning Felix Wiedwald and Raphael Wolf for the number 1 jersey at Werder next season, but after last season’s goalkeeping shenanigans, young third-choice keeper Michael Zetterer shouldn’t rule out some Bundesliga game time next season.
Luca-Milan Zander (age 19)
A knee injury last season prevented Zander appearing for the first-team when it looked like he was ready to make the step-up. Hopefully a clean bill of health will see him get his chances in the forthcoming campaign.
Oliver Hüsing (age 22)
The loss of Sebastian Prödl (who transferred to English side Watford) has left a gap in the defensive ranks and there are a few young candidates aching to be given the opportunity to fill it. Hüsing returns from a loan spell at Hansa Rostock and he could very well be the fourth-choice for one of the two centre-back positions.
Janek Sternberg (age 22)
Of all the young players previously known to Skripnik, it was Sternberg who was given his opportunities last season, and he will be hoping to compete once again with Santiago Garcia for the left-back position. The 22-year-old made 14 appearances last season.
The summer signing from Grasshopper Club Zurich will battle it out for the left-back spot with Santi Garcia and Sternberg. He has said he will be happy to start with the U-23 side, but an impressive pre-season could persuade Viktor Skripnik to throw him in at the deep end at the start of the season.
Marnon Busch (age 20)
Another player just on the cusp of the first team last year was Marnon Busch. The right-back will have to go a long way to shift Theodore Gebre-Selassie from his position, but the 20-year-old will be keen to add to the nine Bundesliga appearances he has amassed so far.
Julian von Haacke (age 21)
The defensive midfield role is one that Werder need to strengthen so could Julian von Haacke become Werder’s next Sechser? He was promoted from Skripnik’s U19 side back in 2012 and made the Bundesliga squad for the first time in 2013, but a knee injury in April 2014 set back his progress.
Maximilian Eggestein (age 18)
Definitely one for the future, but could Max Eggestein be one for next season? He made two appearances as a 17-year-old last season against Paderborn and Wolfsburg. His younger brother Johannes is also being touted as a future star at the club.
Lukas Fröde (age 20)
If you blinked you would definitely have missed Lukas Fröde’s Bundesliga game time last season. A grand total of 1 minute against Eintracht Frankfurt as a late substitute was his sum total. Three touches of the ball was the limit of his contribution- something he’ll want to add to this upcoming season.
Melvyn Lorenzen (age 20)
The sale of Davie Selke to RB Leipzig has been compensated with the arrival of Anthony Ujah from Köln, but Melvyn Lorenzen will be looking to impress Viktor Skripnik and build upon the three appearances and one goal he had last season. Selke was given his chance and proved himself, so why not London-born Lorenzen too?
Maik Lukowicz (age 20)
The controversy over his controversial Nazi goal celebration should have been put well and truly behind him and the 20-year-old will be itching to be given his Bundesliga bow this campaign.
Florian Grillitsch (age 19)
Like Lukowicz, Florian Grillitsch will want to be given the chance to shine at the Weser Stadion. The Austrian forward talent could link up with compatriot Zlatko Junuzovic. He’s been promoted to the first-team squad- all he needs now is the opportunity to prove himself.
Leon Guwara (age 19)
Guwara is some people’s outside bet to be the next big thing at Werder. The Grün-Weißen pulled off quite a coup snagging him from Köln and after impressing for the U-23’s, he’ll be aiming to grab Viktor Skripnik’s attention this year to continue his development.
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