With the winter break upon us it seems a good time to reflect upon an intriguing Hinrunde and take a look at how some of the newcomers to the Bundesliga have been getting on. Some summer signings have been an outright success, while others have flopped big time thus far. Here at the Fanatic we bring you six of the best summer signings…
The jury was very much split when Bayern Munich announced they had signed Colombian James from Real Madrid on a loan deal. Seen as a Carlo Ancelotti signing and an expensive luxury, there was much debate as to where he would fit in at Bayern.
He did struggle to settle at the start, which couldn’t have been helped by Ancelotti’s exit from the club. However, he did settle and started to excel, proving his worth to Bayern. The 26-year-old scored and provided an assist on his full debut at Schalke and added another goal in the win over RB Leipzig. He was also instrumental in Bayern’s 3-1 win over PSG in their Champions League clash at the Allianz Arena providing two assists.
He’s near the top of the Bundesliga stats for average passes per match with 81 (only Thiago, Jerome Boateng and Omer Toprak average more) and has a pass completion rate of 85%.
“I think he can, and most probably will, become more and more important to us in the future, because he is also dangerous in front of goal, which perhaps he hasn’t shown so much of so far as he was playing more for the benefit of the team” Jupp Heynckes said before the recent 1-0 win over Köln.
Like many before him, Amine Harit has made the transition from Ligue 1 to the Bundesliga seamlessly and has really hit the ground running in the Hinrunde with Schalke.
Thrown straight into the starting XI by trainer Domenico Tedesco on matchday 1 against RB Leipzig, the 20-year-old provided the assist for Yevhen Konoplyanka to make it 2-0. He followed up with two further assists against Stuttgart in a 3-1 win.
The speedy winger made a huge difference when brought on in the Revierderby with Schalke 4-0 down and scored the Königsblauen’s second goal of their tremendous comeback. He added a second Bundesliga goal the following week against Köln.
Harit’s direct style of attacking defenders has seen him become the most fouled player in the Bundesliga with 58 fouls suffered. He’s won three penalties for Schalke and only Christian Pulisic and Kingsley Coman have attempted more dribbles than his figure of 105.
While Werder Bremen have struggled this season again, one of the shining lights of their disappointing Hinrunde has been goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka. Signed from Slavia Prague during the summer to try to shore up a leaky defence, the Czech has more than met expectations at the Weser Stadion (even if Werder are 16th).
He may have conceded 20 goals (this time last year it was 36), but he leads the Bundesliga in the number of saves made with 71. The 25-year-old was instrumental in keeping Werder in the game in the Nordderby with Hamburg and was fantastic in the DFB Pokal win over Hoffenheim. If the defenders in front of him can tighten things up, Werder could have a very good Rückrunde.
He may left his mark on a number of Bundesliga players physically, but Argentine midfielder Santiago Ascacibar has left his mark from a performance point of view as he has contributed hugely to VfB Stuttgart’s positive return to the German top flight.
Signed from Estudiantes, the 20-year-old self-confessed admirer of Arturo Vidal has made quite the impact at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. He’s brought some much-needed bite in midfield providing a screen for the back four. He’s aggressive and committed, which can explain his league high seven yellow cards in the Hinrunde, but he’s there to make the challenges (an average of 10 per game).
He’s only committed 20 fouls which leads to the conclusion that as a youngster, he just needs to learn to control the challenges a little more to avoid the bookings.
The Bild-Zeitung have cruelly dubbed him the ‘poisoned dwarf’ but to Stuttgart fans he is fast becoming a fan favourite.
That the 21-year-old midfielder is already being compared to former Borussia Mönchengladbach favourite Granit Xhaka is testament to how well he has started life in the Bundesliga with the Fohlen.
Signed from Swiss club Young Boys for €12 million Zakaria has missed just one league game this season as he’s quickly become an integral part of Dieter Hecking’s plans. He’s in the top 20 players for tackles made with 66, but has committed 30 fouls in the Hinrunde.
He scored his debut goal against Augsburg, but it is his defensive abilities that have made him such a hit at the Borussia Park so far. His versatility has led to him being compared to a Swiss Army Knife and there have there have even been some nicknaming him Denis Xhaka-ria.
The sight of Ihlas Bebou setting off on a mazy run or running at opposition defenders has become a favourite of Hannover fans so far this season. The Togolese forward, who scored 11 goals last season for Fortuna Düsseldorf, already has five goals this season and has made 73 dribbles, making him an important weapon in Hannover’s counter-attacking arsenal.
His two goals against Borussia Dortmund on matchday 10 deservedly earned him the Man of the Match award and he also scored in both of Hannover’s final fixtures of the year.
The newly promoted side finished the Hinrunde in 11th and Bebou has been a large part of that success. He’s been deployed wide on the right, but has been comfortable when asked to play as a central striker. The €5 million Hannover paid Düsseldorf looks like money well spent.
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