It was a high-spending summer for Bundesliga clubs, as the previous transfer record was surpassed weeks before the hectic deadline day. But that wasn’t the main talking point when all done and dusted last Monday, with hosts of the Bundesliga’s finest having been acquired by English Premier League clubs, thanks to their ever-improving multi-billion-pound television deal. One effect of the expensive incoming transfers was the addition of more money for Bundesliga clubs to spend on replacements. It’s also a big opportunity for relatively small clubs, if you insist on looking things from another perspective, bearing in mind expensive sales provide financial stability as well as a platform to be presented as a good environment for stars to be born.
Either way, English clubs have been actively pursuing the Bundesliga for imports, which led to the outgoing record being broken not once but twice. Even England’s 2nd division, the Championship, didn’t rest on their laurels, with last season’s 2. Bundesliga goal-getters Sebastian Polter (QPR) and Rouwen Hennings (Burnley) moving to English’s second-division for hefty transfer sums.
Thus, it’s harder than ever to come up with a dream team consisting of players we won’t see in the Bundesliga this season. For the last couple of years, we picked eleven departing star players in the wake of the summer transfer market. Not to say it was a no-brainer in past years, but arguably with the record transfers, numbers of retirees and players moving on to other pastures after a long careers in Germany, it’s almost as difficult as selecting a dream team of players missing an absolute sitter on match day 3.
Kevin Trapp (from Eintracht Frankfurt to Paris Saint-Germain) (114 apps, 25 clean sheets)
The only playing position that saw no Bundesliga player leave for England was goalkeeper, but French powerhouse PSG got us covered here with the early piece of business they did with Eintracht Frankfurt. The Eagles’ skipper Kevin Trapp was presented with a perfect chance of raising his game with regular Champions League participants and he couldn’t have dreamed a better start to life in the French capital after keeping the clean sheet in each of his first five competitive outings for the Parisians, including lifting the Trophée des Champions on his debut. Upon his move, many predicted he would be part of the recent trend of tinkering with two good goalkeepers, like Marc-Andre ter Stegen has had to endure at Barcelona, but by the looks of things, Trapp is promised to be one of the ever-present players at PSG. From playing at youth national team setups from U17 to U23 to jumping to die Nationalmannschaft is certainly one of the things in Trapp’s to-do list, despite the hosts of up-and-coming goalies in the country.
Heiko Westermann (from Hamburger SV to Real Betis) (318 apps, 26 goals)
Admittedly, the last couple of seasons were ones to forget for both Hamburg and ex-skipper Westermann. The former Schalke defender lost his captaincy to Rafael van der Vaart after a sequence of horrifying results for the Northerners a season earlier, and he couldn’t prevent another near-disastrous campaign for HSV in 2014-15. Despite playing in every defensive role as well as shifting for a defensive midfielder position for a couple of matches, the 27-time international’s days of playing at higher level were numbered. Following over 300 appearances (and no red cards!) in the German top-division for the last decade, Westermann left Germany for the newly-promoted La Liga side Real Betis alongside fellow Hamburg veteran Rafael van der Vaart in the summer.
Nikolče Noveski (from Mainz to free agent) (256 apps, 8 goals)
Joint holder of the undesired record of scoring the most own-goals in the Bundesliga history with six, Noveski saw it all with the carnival side: from the Jürgen Klopp era to his eventual successor in Dortmund, Thomas Tuchel; two seasons in the second-division; European ties; the club’s move to the high-tech Coface Arena; and hosts of promising youngsters leaving the 05ers for bigger clubs. The Macedonian was a real leader both on and off the pitch for over a decade in the club that could serve as a perfect example of a low-budget side giving a run for the big spenders’ money. The tough defender couldn’t resist flooding a few tears when he bid a farewell to the Mainz faithful in his final home fixture against Köln. At the age of 36, his contact at Mainz has expired. He is yet to announce his retirement, as he is still looking for an employer.
Abdul Rahman Baba (from FC Augsburg to Chelsea FC) (51 apps)
The Londoners began the 2015/2016 campaign with the worst of starts, and the pressure is ever mounting on the controversial manager Jose Mourinho, with the “aged” defensive lineup sharing the majority of the criticism as well. The arrival of the 21-year-old Baba could add fresh blood in the backline, as the Ghanaian will be looking for a breakout season in the English Premier League. Plying his trade for 2. Bundesliga outfit Greuther Furth at the start of last campaign, the young fullback was one of the stars in Augsburg’s underdog story following his late transfer to the Bavarian neighbors. Regarded as one of the finest left-backs in the Bundesliga last term, Baba would hope to repeat his feat in England under a wider watchful eyes of the footballing world.
Kevin Großkreutz (from Borussia Dortmund to Galatasaray) (176 apps, 23 goals)
Dortmund fans can never have any complaints regarding their goal-fest start to Thomas Tuchel’s era, but the departure of Großkreutz and Kuba’s loan deal to Fiorentina saw two of the fan favorites leaving Signal Iduna Park. Known for his versatility, including the famous shift between the posts in 2012-13 season finale, Dortmund-born-and-bred Grosskreutz is easily one of the most-popular figures in the club. Nonetheless, a drop in performance and successive injuries limited his playing time, and he ended up dropping to the second team at the tail end of last season. Großkreutz’s last-minute transfer to Galatasaray, where fellow World Cup champion and off-pitch pal Lukas Podolski also plays, was dismissed by FIFA because the signed documents couldn’t be delivered in time, limiting the leggy winger/fullback/midfielder/goalkeeper’s contribution to the Turkish giants to training and friendlies until the winter break.
Sebastian Kehl (from Borussia Dortmund to retirement) (314 apps, 24 goals)
The veteran won the league title with Dortmund under current Bayern München sporting director Matthias Sammer as well as the back-to-back triumphs in the Jürgen Klopp era, which tells his long-standing connection with the Yellow-Blacks. In the wake of a strong Hinrunde showing at Freiburg, that includes scoring in a shock win at Signal Iduna Park for the minnows, Kehl signed with Dortmund in January 2002, and has been part and parcel of the side for the last fifteen years. He is not a prolific goal scorer, but including his last two goals for Dortmund – a screamer at his old stomping ground last season and a tie breaker in the Pokal against Hoffenheim – the defensive midfielder netted a few belters down the years.
Simon Rolfes (from Bayer Leverkusen to retirement) (288 apps, 41 goals)
Usually, the final match of a player’s long-standing career will see the retiree trying all his best to find his name on the scoring sheet, but for Rolfes, it’s a different story. Die Werkself already booked their place in the next season’s Champions League qualifiers ahead of the season’s final home match against Hoffenheim, but it was business as usual for the hard-tackling Rolfes. In a reasonably tame encounter, the 33-year-old went into the referee’s book following a rough challenge, which is only to be expected in a title-deciding matches. He had to fight with injures for almost the entire first half of last season, but he didn’t waste any time to find his feet back in helping the team on his return under Roger Schmidt’s demanding tactics. There is a possibility for the ex-German international to return to Leverkusen as a manager, despite the fact that the last man to do so, Sami Hyypiä, didn’t have the best of times in the dugout.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (from Bayern Munchen to Manchester United) (342 apps, 45 goals)
For years it has been difficult to see the fussballgot, as he is affectionately called by the club fans, in club colors other than that of the Bavarian giants. In the wake of three consecutive league titles, an unprecedented personal eight in total, Schweini looked for a fresh start elsewhere, and the chance of a reunion with his former coach Louis van Gaal at Manchester United was hard to resist at long last. With his influence on the pitch at Bayern decreasing every year, not least with his injury worries, Schweinsteiger is hoping to put all behind him ahead of a European cup season. His surprise transfer, at least from a German’s perspective, paved the way in a busy summer of English clubs nesting in the Bundesliga for their new signings.
Kevin De Bruyne (from VfL Wolfsburg to Manchester City FC) (85 apps, 23 goals, 36 assists (!))
The Belgian’s future had been a regular feature of this summer’s transfer rumors, before he eventually sealed the deal with the Manchester club for a record sum paid for a Bundesliga-based player. Already having left an impression on his loan stint at Werder Bremen a couple of years ago, De Bruyne took it to another level last season, leading the way in Europe for assists made. Although many believed he wouldn’t be rushed to join a European powerhouse again, judging by his disappointing time at Chelsea, De Bruyne opted to prove his doubters (EPL fans) wrong only after a one-and-a-half-year stay at Lower Saxony, where he had the privilege of being the focal point of the jigsaw.
Roberto Firmino (from TSG Hoffenheim to Liverpool FC) (140 apps, 38 goals)
Despite a quiet showing last season by his own standard, Hoffenheim was able to get the most out of Firmino’s inevitable departure, which resulted in the Bundesliga’s transfer record before the aforementioned De Bruyne’s move come along. Surprisingly enough, Firmino entered the scenes of the Brazilian national team before this summer’s Copa América as well, even though his best time at Sinsheim was a season earlier when Markus Gisdol’s side was firing on all cylinders up front. Nevertheless, with the big-money shift to Liverpool, Firmino finally made the huge leap to the bigger stage. The early signs were not so promising, though, with the Reds only scoring two goals (none from the Brazilian) in four matches following a heavy home defeat against giant killers West Ham United.
Shinji Okazaki (from 1. FSV Mainz to Leicester City) (128 apps, 37 goals)
The sweet volley at Hannover in Stuttgart colors might be the pick of Okazaki’s 37 Bundesliga goals, a Bundesliga high for a Japanese player, but his two-year spell at Mainz was the real highlight of his blossoming career. Never being questioned for his work rate, Okazaki found his goal-scoring form instantly at Mainz, with a deserved goal against none other than Stuttgart on his debut. Mainz are never short of profiting from player sales, and this case is no different. In Leicester City’s acquisition of the 29-year-old attacker, Mainz were able to get 9 million euros profit from the transfer sum they picked up the player from the Swabians a couple of seasons back. The Foxes started the season on a positive note, with their long-time target Okazaki playing a key role in their third-place standing after four match days being played in the English Premier League.
Honorable mentions: Rafael van der Vaart (from Hamburger SV to Real Betis Balompie), Jefferson Farfan (from Schalke 04 to Al-Jazira Abu Dhabi), Jakub Blaszczykowski (from Borussia Dortmund to ACF Fiorentina, loan), Andreas Beck (from TSG Hoffenheim to Besiktas JK) , Sejad Salihovic (from TSG Hoffenheim to Guizhou Renhe FC) , Cedric Makiadi (from Werder Bremen to Caykur Rizespor) , Patrick Helmes (from 1. FC Köln to retirement), Marcell Jansen (from Hamburger SV to retirement), Ivan Perišić ( from VfL Wolfsburg to FC Internazionale Milano), Heung-Min Son (from Bayer Leverkusen to Tottenham Hotspur FC), Kevin Wimmer (from 1. FC Köln to Tottenham Hotspur FC) ,
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