HSV’s season has been mostly of disappointment but one of the few bright spots has been the loan signing of Pierre-Michel Lasogga from Hertha Berlin in exchange for their Norwegian midfielder Per Ciljan Skjelbred, who moved to the capital also on loan. Lasogga has scored 10 goals in 15 appearances (13 from the start) and has largely been HSV’s biggest attacking threat despite only playing his first match for the club in mid-September.
The 2012/2013 season wasn’t kind to the native of Gladbeck, Nordrhein-Westphalen, as injury only allowed him to start one match for Hertha and come off the bench another six times, scoring just the one goal albeit in an important 1-0 victory against Sandhausen. Sadly, during the month of August of 2013, Lasogga got injured again, this time out for ‘only’ four to six weeks and was to miss the start of the season. With Hertha’s storming start to their Bundesliga campaign, thrashing Eintracht Frankfurt 6-1 at the Olympiastadion and with Adrián Ramos on top form, Lasogga had nowhere to go in the team and Jos Luhukay and Michael Preetz were only too happy to let him go to HSV in exchange for Skjelbred, who covered their midfield needs.
The deal was perfect for both teams and both players. Despite making his debut as a late substitute in the embarrassing 6-2 thrashing at Dortmund, Lasogga made his first start just ten days later in the DFB Pokal match against Greuther Fürth, scoring the lone goal of the game. It was the first match after the sacking of Thorsten Fink, triggered by the embarrassing 2-0 home loss in the Nordderby against Werder Bremen (in which Lasogga also partook in a 10-minute cameo) and it proved to be the turning of the corner for Lasogga. He started the next match against Eintracht Frankfurt and was once again on the scoresheet in a hard-fought 2-2 draw in Bert van Marwijk’s first match in charge, showing confidence in the young striker’s ability and bringing in much-needed work rate in the team. However, the best was yet to come and just seven days later he scored a fantastic hat-trick in the 5-0 away pounding of Freiburg.
On the other hand, Skjelbred has started all 13 matches that he’s been available for and scored a goal, performing at a high standard that he rarely showed in Hamburg. It was inevitable that transfer rumours for both players started arising in the media, particularly for a permanent straight swap, but Lasogga’s value since his goals have come in has increased to the point where Hertha are now not so sure that, despite Skjelbred’s good performances, both players are at the same level in terms of value. Hertha fans and the Berlin media are sure that they can get Skjelbred for a sum of between 1 and 3 million Euros, while Lasogga would be worth much more than that, with some media reporting that HSV would be willing to part with 7 million Euros for the player, a figure that they could obviously bring down by sending Skjelbred the other way and a move that HSV sporting director Oliver Kreuzer stated that he’d be interested in.
However, in many Hertha fan forums, the talk about Lasogga coming back got stronger and stronger as the striker’s good performances kept coming in. Many fans felt that selling him to what would be a direct rival would be a mistake and that he should come back at the end of the season, also remarking that Hertha should pay the Skjelbred transfer without Lasogga coming into the frame. One man who never doubted Lasogga’s return to the Hauptstadt was Hertha’s general manager Michael Preetz. He already stated in the media as early as four weeks into the loan deal that there was no doubt that Lasogga would come back to Berlin, that the deal was a loan and just a loan and that no permanent transfer was or was to be discussed. In last Saturday’s Bild, Preetz openly came out stating that they want to prolong Lasogga’s contract beyond the 2015 expiry date it currently has. “Our plan to loan him so that he got match practice has worked perfectly. He is a great guy on whom we rely on.” stated the Hertha chief to the German tabloid. Luhukay also added that “all I want is for Pierre to come back and start hunting for goals with Adrián.”
Pierre won’t be sold. He is coming back – Michael Preetz
So all of this leaves Lasogga in a tricky situation. His best goalscoring season was 2010/2011 in which he scored 13 goals in 25 matches in the 2. Bundesliga for Hertha. In the Bundesliga, his best tally was 8 goals in 32 appearances back in 2011/2012, a mark which he has already improved on by one goal and in 19 fewer matches so far this season. Therefore, if he can stay injury-free, he should be looking at reaching a sum of around 20 goals for the season, which would no doubt make it difficult for HSV to retain his services without having to fork out a considerable sum of money. While few doubt that Skjelbred, despite his good form, will make his move to Berlin permanent, there are quite a few factors that make Lasogga’s return to Berlin more likely than him staying in Hamburg. Hertha’s top scorer Adrián Ramos (11 in 17) is in contract talks with his club to extend his deal beyond 2015 but he has been one of the names mentioned to replace Robert Lewandowski at Borussia Dortmund and a regular in the Bundesliga Gerüchteküche during the Hinrunde, with teams like Arsenal, Stoke, Wolfsburg and Real Sociedad among others rumoured to be interested in the Colombian’s services. If Ramos does decide to pursue his career elsewhere with a big move in the summer after what would have been five seasons at Hertha, Lasogga would no doubt come straight back in and replace him in attack; on the other hand, if Ramos agrees a new deal, there will be only room for one in Luhukay’s system and Lasogga could force a move elsewhere to play regular first-team football now that he is playing his best football.
Another potential influential factor is Hertha’s pursuit of European football, which could very well end up being a successful one come May, a pursuit that’s not even an option at the Imtech Arena at the moment. Whether playing continental football would benefit Lasogga in his quest to be considered by Joachim Löw for the Euro 2016 squad is not clear, especially considering how playing twice a week has affected the Bundesliga form of teams like Hannover, Eintracht Frankfurt and Freiburg in the last couple of seasons but, a priori, playing in Europe is a goal for all football players that brings extra value to a player’s status when it comes to international recognition and if Lasogga has a good Rückrunde for HSV, he will no doubt have his sights set on making the squad for France.
The Rückrunde will be interesting in terms of whether how Lasogga will perform and how many goals he’ll score and whether Hertha can extend Ramos’ contract. These two factors alongside Hertha’s final league position will no doubt determine where Lasogga will be playing next year, whether it’s Hamburg, Berlin or even somewhere else in the Bundesliga.
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