Fresh from competing in the Confederations Cup, Stuttgart striker Shinji Okazaki has signed with FSV Mainz 05 while American international Daniel Williams of Hoffenheim has left to play in England for Reading FC and Philippine international Stephan Schröck has left the village club to play for Eintracht Frankfurt. Werder Bremen completed their deal for Italian defender Luca Caldirola while Stuttgart have given a young Austrian defender his first professional contract and SC Freiburg have added a young defender from France. The times and dates for the first two weeks of German 2nd division play have been announced by the DFL, while Pep Guardiola draws a crowd for his first Bayern practice session.
Mainz Nabs Okazaki
Japanese international Shinji Okazaki will be playing his home matches next season at the Coface Arena, as he has signed a three-year deal with Mainz. The 27 year-old scored goals against Italy and Mexico in the Confederations Cup this summer for Japan. The transfer fee paid by Mainz was not disclosed.
Okazaki spent six seasons with J-League club Shimizu S-Pulse after high school. He has played 85 matches for Stuttgart since arriving in January, 2011, scoring 13 goals. Last season he featured in 25 league matches for the Swabians, starting eleven, but only scored once on 25 attempts. He created 32 scoring chances in his 1009 minutes in Bundesliga play, completed 83% of his passes and drew three yellow cards.
Okazaki brings not only European experience to Mainz, but a boatload of experience on the international level. The Japanese attacker has earned 66 senior caps and has netted 35 times. He had a year remaining on his contract at Stuttgart.
Mainz Coach Thomas Tuchel stated
We’re really pleased that Shinji Okazaki has decided to join us. He’s a player with attributes which are very important for the way we play football. He’s an absolute team player and is a very versatile attacker, and always very dangerous and potent in front of goal
Hoffenheim’s Williams, Schrock Depart
American international Daniel Williams has signed with Reading FC with Hoffenheim on the receiving end of a transfer fee estimated to be in the 2 million euro range. Reading will play in the Championship next season after being demoted from the EPL last season.
At age 24, the Karlsruhe-born Williams began his youth career in his hometown before joining the youth system at SC Freiburg in 2004. He received most of his playing time with Freiburg’s reserve side, but made his senior club debut in January, 2010. He signed with Hoffenheim in August, 2011, where he became an integral part of the squad despite the constant changeover in coaches in his time with the club. Last season he earned 17 starts in league play, but earned 8 yellow cards in only 1543 minutes. He has totaled 59 Bundesliga appearances.
Williams began international play for Jurgen Klinsmann’s US squad in October, 2011 and has been capped 12 times after playing a few games for the German U-15 team. Klinsmann has referred to the midfielder as a player with “tremendous potential.” Williams has been chosen by Klinsmann to start against opponents such as France, Italy, Mexico and Russia.
Williams said that
I see this as the next step in my career. I am really looking forward to the season and trying to get the club back to the Premier League
Williams signed a four-year contract with Reading. The 6-footer won’t be the first American international to play at Reading, as current MLS players Bobby Convey and goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann featured frequently for Reading during the reign of Coach Steve Coppell.
Stephan Schröck will also be bidding farewell to Hoffenheim. The 26 year-old German-born Philippine international leaves after one season with the village team, signing a two-year deal on a free transfer with Armin Veh’s Eintracht Frankfurt club. Schröck only appeared in ten matches while at Hoffenheim after a lengthy career with Greuther Fürth that saw the Cloverleaves rise to the Bundesliga’s top-tier. The versatile Schröck has eight caps for the Philippines national team following his play for German national youth teams earlier in his career.
Werder Bremen Sign Caldirola
Werder Bremen, after some initial wrangling, were able to secure a deal for defender Luca Caldirola from co-owners Inter Milan and Cesena. The Italian U-21 captain signed a four-year deal with Bremen for a transfer fee believed to be 2.5 million euros, According to kicker, however, Werder Bremen have not made any progress in signing one of its targeted attackers — former Dortmund man Lucas Barrios or SC Heerenveen’s Alfred Finnbogason, whilea loan deal for Udinese starlet Matej Vydra is now off the table.
SC Freiburg Sign Jullien
SC Freiburg have suffered a rash of key departures from last year’s successful squad, but are beginning to fill in the holes created on their squad. The Black Forest club recently signed French U-20 defender Christopher Jullien, 20, from AJ Auxerre on a free transfer. Jullien is currently on duty with the French squad at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
The 6’5″ defender played in 27 matches for the Ligue 2 Auxerre club since joining in 2011. Transfermarkt.com placed his current value at 1 million euros.
VfB Stuttgart have signed 19 year-old Philipp Mwene to his first professional contract. Born in Vienna, the defender holds dual citizenship with both Austria and Rwanda, and came up in the Austria Wien youth system before playing for the Stuttgart U-19 team this season and featuring three times for the Stuttgart reserves in 3.Liga play at the end of their 2012/2013 campaign. Mwene, a right back, played for the Austrian U-19 team against France earlier this month.
German football action is now little more than three weeks away. The DFL has announced the dates and kickoff times for the first two weeks of upcoming 2. Bundesliga season. The season will open on Friday, July 19 with SV Sandhausen hosting VfR Aalen and FC Ingolstadt play host to FC Erzgebirge Aue in the early (18:30 German time) matches while a duel between St. Pauli and 1860 Munich is the late Friday fixture.
Over 10,000 fans were in attendance Wednesday at the Allianz for Pep Guardiola‘s first practice session with Bayern Munich. On the Bundesliga’s official site, Christopher Mayer-Lodge reports that the players were “schooled in the art of tiki- taka” during the session. Midfielder Toni Kroos, injured during the latter part of last season, took part in the practice.
Header photo from www.footballx.net