As the Hinrunde comes to an end, every team and every player will be able to evaluate their performance. Many teams such as Leipzig, Hertha, Frankfurt and Hoffenheim will be thrilled by what they’ve been able to accomplish so far, while other sides such as Schalke, Hamburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach will wish to forget about the Hinrunde. The players on these teams can evaluate themselves as well, as some players have performed far better than anyone expected. The list of breakout stars of this Hinrunde is large, but these are just five of the newest Bundesliga stars.
Anthony Modeste: 1.FC Koln
The Frenchman has been a reliable striker in the Bundesliga for quite some time ever since his days at Hoffenheim. His 15 goal season last term and his 12 goals in 2013-14 have allowed Bundesliga fans to see his quality, but this season he’s become an elite striker. With 13 goals already this season and a match rating of 7.32 have him on pace for career highs in both categories. Modeste is in the top 25 in the entire Bundesliga in match rating, and he’s one of the highest ranked strikers as well. His hattrick against Hamburg and his great display against Ingolstadt have allowed every fan to witness his finishing ability this season. His importance to Köln can’t be underestimated, as Modeste has scored more than half of their goals this Hinrunde. Without his contribution, there is no way Köln would be challenging for Europe despite missing Timo Horn for multiple games.
No one would’ve thought that Modeste would have more goals than Robert Lewandowski and Chicharito and be second in the golden boot race, but that’s exactly what the Frenchman has done so far. If the Billy Goats continue to have success and Modeste keeps up his current pace—which would see him notch over 20 goals— there is no reason why he can’t make it to the team of the season.
Serge Gnabry: Werder Bremen
The last 12 months or so have been incredibly kind to Serge Gnabry, as his career has taken a complete whirlwind during this time frame. From only making 1 appearance at West Bromwich Albion in England while on loan from Arsenal last season followed by his outstanding Olympics and now being a Bundesliga star, his rise has been incredible. The ability to bring his Olympic form to his domestic play has made Gnabry into a star, and the stats back it up.
The german has seven goals so far this season despite being a wide player, which leads Werder Bremen and in seventh in the entire Bundesliga. That is an incredibly feat for Gnabry, who has also picked up a match rating of 7.20, which is in the top 40 in the entire Bundesliga. Gnabry’s impressive form hasn’t gone unnoticed, as Joachim Low gave him his first international cap and start during the last international break. The fact that a player who had never played in the Bundesliga before this season is in the top 10 in goals shows just how far Gnabry has come. After a goal in the final game of the Hinrunde against Hoffenheim, it looks like Gnabry will continue to be a shining star.
Emil Forsberg: RB Leipzig:
After Emil Forsberg won the 2.Bundesliga player of the year last season, some people expected him to be a solid player in the Bundesliga. The Swede was one of my breakout stars before the season started, and his so far Forsberg has been a star indeed. He leads the Bundesliga in assists with 8, despite playing only 1083 minutes this season. That is less than three of the five best assists this season, which shows how great Forsberg has been passing the ball. The Swede also has five goals to go with his five assists, which is also in the top 10 in the Bundesliga. Forsberg is one of two players in the Bundesliga to be in the top 10 in goals and assists, which shows just how important he’s been for Leipzig.
Besides his goals and assists, Forsberg is also in the top 10 in match rating, with an outstanding mark of 7.56. This total leads Bundesliga hotshots Leipzig and his rating is higher than stars such as Aubameyang, Xabi Alonso, and Mats Hummels. If you are performing better than those three players, you are most certainly a Bundesliga star.
Kerem Demirbay: Hoffenheim
The rise of Hoffenheim under Julian Nagelsmann has seen many players garner praise—such as Niklas Sule, Sandro Wagner and Benjamin Hubner—but none of them have been more important than Demirbay this season. The expectations for Demirbay weren’t high before the season started, after all he had made just three Bundesliga appearances with Hamburg in his career. But after an impressive 2.Bundesliga season with Düsseldorf, that saw him score 10 goals—Hoffenheim knew what the 23-year-old could do.
Now, he’s been showing every other club what he can do with three goals and four assists in 10 games this Hinrunde. His match rating sits at 7.68, which is a fantastic clip and even better than his mark in the 2.Bundesliga last season. That rating is second in the entire Bundesliga, which means that Demirbay has arguably been the league’s best player this season. Considering how well he’s performed and the miniscule amount of Bundesliga experience he had before the season started, Demirbay has truly been a breakout star.
Timo Werner: RB Leipzig
Another Leipzig player makes the cut as Werner’s breakout season has been just as surprising as Leipzig’s season. The German was one of the brightest young prospects in Germany during his time with Stuttgart, but he failed to live up to his massive potential at times. He had a decent scoring record with Stuttgart—that saw him score six times last season in 27 starts—but this year Werner is putting all of his talent together.
With 9 goals already this season, the 20-year-old has his highest goal tally for a single season. Additionally, his 7.23 match rating is by far a career high and his rating is 0.60 points higher than his second best mark. His finishing has also improved drastically from his time with Stuttgart, since his shots per game are only up by 0.4 per contest this season despite his increase in goals. Werner has also contributed two assists, and his ability to do damage in wide positions has helped the like of Forsberg and Sabitzer tremendously. Almost every Leipzig player has surprised this season, but the rise of Werner into the joint highest scoring German in the Bundesliga thus far has been the most surprising of all. With his form catapulting Leipzig to second in the league, Werner is starting to go from a raw prospect with potential to a star and the next elite German striker.
With all of the young talent in the Bundesliga, new stars emerging is nothing new. But the fact that it’s almost impossible to know who’s going to put it all together makes this league so enticing. If the second half produces just as many new stars as the first, then the Bundesliga will continue to entertain us all.
Honorable mentions: Naby Keita, Willi Orban, Sead Kolasinac, Ousmane Dembele, Vincenzo Grifo
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