It hasn’t been the easiest of summers thus far in Bremen. After a promising 2014/2015 campaign, the green-whites finished 13th in the table last season, but only two points above Eintracht Frankfurt in the promotion/relegation playoff spot. Earlier this summer, they lost two of their best defenders as Jannick Vestergaard left for Borussia Mönchengladbach and Papy Dijilobodji returned to Chelsea as his loan expired. This past week, striker Anthony Ujah departed for the Chinese Super League, leaving a thin frontline even thinner.
But things are looking a little brighter the past few days as Werder Bremen announced the signing of veteran defender Fallou Diagne to a three-year deal from French club Stade Rennes. Additionally, Coach Victor Skripnik and attacker Fins Bartels extended their contracts.
Diagne, 26, was born in Dakar and began his career with French club Metz. He signed with SC Freiburg in 2012 and played in 57 Bundesliga matches for the Black Forest club. In 2014 he returned to Ligue 1 with Rennes. The 6’1″ central deefender brings to Bremen the experience of 150 first division matches in top leagues but at 26 is still relatively young and should play a big part in filling the void left by Vestergaard’s departure. He also earned his first callup with Senegal earlier this year.
Skripnik, 46, was a longtime Bremen defender who was coaching the club’s reserve team when he was appointed head coach of the senior squad following the departure of Robin Dutt in October, 2014. In 52 league matches, he has a record of 21-10-21. Along with assistants Torsten Frings, Florian Kohfeldt and Christian Vander, Skripnik earned an early contract extension through June, 2018. Bremen CEO Frank Baumann commented
Viktor Skripnik and his coaching staff have worked through difficult periods. We’re therefore delighted to have resolved the matter and are convinced that Viktor and his training team are the best option for Werder.
Skripnik was pleased to sign an early contract extension.
We’re obviously all very pleased about the trust and confidence invested in us and that we can now continue our work here at Werder long term. We’ll all approach the upcoming tasks with hunger and desire
Skripnik survived an internal club power struggle in May with former Sporting Director Thomas Eichin, who wanted to replace him. Six of six Werder board members voted that Skripnik should stay and Eichin should be the one leaving.
The north German club also announced that striker Fins Bartels had signed a contract extension for three years.. The 29 year-old native of Kiel has played in 66 matches in all competitions for SV in his two years at the club, scoring 14 goals, after coming over from St. Pauli. Baumann commented
Fin’s become an absolute key player for us since coming here and he enjoys a high standing within the team. We’re delighted that he is going to continue taking on a key role in the coming years
Despite losing Ujah, Werder will have the wonderfully aging Claudio Pizarro back on the frontline in addition to Bartels. Earlier this summer the club also brought in Justin Eilers, 28, from Dynamo Dresden, last year’s leading scorer in 3.Liga and signed Lennart Thy from St. Pauli. The status of American international Aron Johannsson is still questionable going into training camp after the striker missed most of last season with injury.
Having also signed veteran goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny from HSV this summer, SV’s goalkeeping situation should be much improved over a 2015/2016 season in which keeping a clean sheet was mission almost impossible. And according to a recent report in Football Italia, the club is in serious talks with Finnish international Niklas Moisander, a 30 year-old defender who featured in 22 matches for Sampdoria last season after a long career in the Eredivisie with Ajax. AZ Alkmaar and PEC Zwolle. So while Bremen fans may still have an uneasy feeling going into next season, Baumann and company have made moves to stabilize the the club. Werder Bremen do begin their league season with a huge challenge, however, playing away to Bayern Munich. Things can’t help but get easier from there.
(Editors note: Moisander has now signed with Werder Bremen).