Friends Reunited- Martin Harnik Joins Max Kruse at Werder Bremen

The €2 million transfer of Hannover striker Martin Harnik back to Werder Bremen looks a good bit of business from the Grün-Weißen, but it also sees the Austrian international back in tandem with an old friend and sees two careers coming full circle.

Fans at the Weser Stadion can already start to look forward to a strike pairing of Martin Harnik and Max Kruse next season, but any worries as to whether the duo will gel and be able to play together will be quickly dispelled as the two have a history.

The back story goes all the way back to when they both started their careers with SC Vier- und Marschlande on the outskirts of Hamburg. As youngster both players started out in the youth ranks at the club moving through the U-17 and U-19 teams. They formed a close friendship and a good relationship on the pitch helping SCVM to the A-Jugend title in their time there.

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Both left the club in January 2006 and both made the same move to Werder Bremen. The surprising parallels to their two careers don’t end there with a host of similarities leading to them being reunited at the Weser Stadion once more.

After they both found it difficult to break into the Werder first team despite impressing with Werder Bremen II, the duo left the club simultaneously in 2009 with Kruse moving to St.Pauli and Harnik going to Fortuna Düsseldorf.

Both players as we know did ultimately make the grade in the Bundesliga, using different, but similar routes. Kruse’s route to Bremen took him via Freiburg, Borussia Mönchengladbach and VfL Wolfsburg , while Harnik returned to Werder after his loan in Düsseldorf ended before moving on to VfB Stuttgart and Hannover.

Harnik has so far made 220 Bundesliga appearances- Kruse 218. One has scored 62 goals (Harnik) the other 62 (Kruse). Their Bundesliga II/ Regionalliga stats are also very similar with Harnik making 60 appearances (46 goals) with Kruse playing 63 matches (45 goals).

On leaving Hannover after two seasons (one of which saw him play a pivotal role in their promotion) Harnik revealed the pull of joining up with Max Kruse was a major factor in his decision to return to the Weser Stadion for a third spell.

“For both of us it was a big dream to not only play in the amateur league together, but also in professional football. We’re both happy to have this chance” Harnik explained to the Hannover fans in his farewell statement.

Werder and Kruse struggled for goals somewhat last season with the former German international scoring just six goals. Over in Hannover Harnik, despite a season interrupted by injury and Niklas Füllkrug being first-choice, bagged nine.

Both play as attacking forwards rather than out-and-out centre-forwards and the hop from Florian Kohfeldt must be that they can reignite their spark from their days together at SC Vier- und Marschlande and strike up a dream forward partnership for SV Werder.

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.

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