The news when it arrived was as unwanted as one of your parents on a first-date or a porcupine in a condom factory. Just when Werder fans thought he was staying, Franco Di Santo dropped the bombshell that he was off. Many a weekend ruined!
Not so much as a warning, a goodbye, au revoir, adios, aufwiedersehen, or so long. One minute we’re expecting him to line-up in the friendly against Sevilla, next thing we’re left with just Anthony Ujah up front and a massive hole to fill in the three weeks left until the start of the season.
To be fair the nagging doubt has been annoyingly lingering all summer as the Argentine dithered over signing a contract extension, but the longer things went on and with no bids in the news, the more confident Werder fans were that the darling of the Weser Stadion would stay true to the Grün-Weißen.
As it happens, the reported €6 million release clause in his contract has been activated by Schalke and Werder have lost their top scorer from last season. His 13 goals in the last campaign were a large part of how and why Viktor Skripnik was able to turn things around so spectacularly and why many Werder fans had such high hopes for the forthcoming season.
Mladen Krstajic and also Ailton moved from SVW to Schalke in the past and now Di Santo! Damn those Königsblauen.
The sale of Davie Selke to second division RB Leipzig now seems all the more curious/ bizarre when you consider that Thomas Eichin and Co must have known that there was a serious danger that they could also lose Di Santo at the end of the season. Having said that, the Red Bull money probably spoke louder than any offer Werder were capable of making.
So €6 million, plus a bit of surplus from the sales of Selke and Nils Petersen leaves Thomas Eichin with a bit of cash to spend, but not much time in which to do so.
Who are realistic targets for Werder to partner Anthony Ujah next season then? Eichin has his work cut-out, but here are just a few names that might be under consideration:
The Slovenian was a target earlier in the season before the club signed Ujah from Köln, so it could well be that they go back and make a second attempt to sign him. He would be in the club’s price range and would suit their style and with 27 goals last season in 33 appearances for Rapid Vienna, he certainly looks the part.
N’Sikulu was also reportedly tracked last season at FC Évian in France. Five goals in 20 starts for the Ligue 1 side last season was not a spectacular return, but his speed and dynamism could suit Skripnik’s needs well.
Sion’s 22-year-old Senegalese attacker Moussa Konaté could also be an option after an impressive season in the Swiss Super League where he scored 20 goals in both League and Cup.
While not a like-for-like swap Werder favourite Claudio Pizarro is looking for a club after being released by Bayern at the age of 36 and could provide cover for Ujah and A.N Other. With 89 goals in two spells at the club, the Peruvian could still have something to prove.
Is it too much to expect Ujah to take on the main goal scoring burden and Viktor Skripnik to hand a youngster the chance to act as back-up à la Davie Selke? He scored one goal in three appearances last season, but only the trainer will know how ready the 20-year-old is.
There will be others on the Werder radar I’m sure, but that is Thomas Eichin’s job. It’s raw, Werder fans will be hurting, but life goes on. Lebenslang Grün und Weiß.
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