With the sale of Sebastien Haller to West Ham United the Eagles of Eintracht Frankfurt are now in an interesting position: in the process of filling their coffers they have created a severe deficit in goal scoring on the pitch. In came over $100 million, out went 47 goals and 19 assists. With departure of Luka Jović earlier to Real Madrid and Haller, also gone are 53% of Eintracht’s goal scoring, 27% of their assist totals, over 6,000 minutes played, 2.8 fouls won per game, five shots on target per game, and nine aerial duels won per game. Eintracht now have a gaping hole to fill in their front line and a disappointed and frustrated fanbase.
While replacing Jović and his 27 goals in all competitions was already a formidable feat, replacing Haller’s ability to win the ball in the air and make plays will be next to impossible. Haller lead the Bundesliga in the 2018/2019 season with 6.9 aerial duels won per game. His 20 goals and 11 assists and his ability to spearhead Coach Adi Hütter’s press mean that what he contributed to Eintracht cannot be filled by one player gained this summer. His ability to go get the ball in the air and connect Eintracht’s attack made them able to score from anywhere at anytime. He is a formidable player and losing Haller will force the team to change the dynamic of their attack.
With an already hyper competitive Bundesliga, and the Europa League qualifying starting next week, Fredi Bobic must act now if Die Adler are going to continue their upward progression into becoming one of the Bundesliga’s consistently good clubs. Below are some of the more intriguing buying options that may help reinvent Eintracht’s attack.
Mario Mandžukić – ST- Juventus
Transfermarkt Value – $18 million
The aging Croat would be a terrific pairing with Ante Rebic. While his skills and athleticism are on the downward side, he would be as close a replacement for Haller as possible with a comparable skill set. Mandžukić is a skilled passer and playmaker, and can still knock it into the back of the net from open spaces. His 10 goals and 7 assists across all competitions in 2018/2019 show that he can still produce at age 33.. though not at the pace he showed in his four seasons in the Bundesliga when he scored 53 league goals for Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich.
Mandžukić paired well with Rebic in Croatia’s run to the World Cup Final in 2018, and should be able to help a few young players along the way. His skill set would also compare to that of Gonçalo Paciência and the two should be able to play as one. Mandžukić is a veteran of the Bundesliga and Champions League play. He’s a stopgap, and would be out of the norm for the way the Eagles operate as of late, but there’s still enough in the veteran’s legs to get value from the transfer.
Luca Waldschmidt – CF – S.C. Freiburg
Transfermarkt Value – $12 million
Luca Waldschmidt came a long way in the 2018/2019 season. Scoring 9 goals with three assists for in 16 games for SC Freiburg, then going on a spectacular run with the U-21 team in Germany. Luca scored 9 goals in 10 games for the National Side, and helped lead them to the U-21 World Cup final before falling to Spain. Luca is a young (23), emerging player posting his best numbers in terms of goals, assists, minutes and appearances in last years campaign. Luca is familiar with Eintracht, having played in Frankfurt from 2011-2016. The left footer has made key strides at just finding space, and being able to work off of Ante Rebic would provide lots of space for him to work in. Waldschmidt is not overly athletic, but has enough pace and quickness to fit into Hütter’s preferred style.
Bruno Fernandes – CF – Sporting CP
Transfermarkt Value – $55 million
Bruno Fernandes is an extremely talented player that has a stat line extremely comparable to Sebastien Haller. Posting 20 goals and 13 assists across all competitions, the Portuguese International player has the ability to connect plays and score goals. A different player than Haller, he has tremendous first touch and work rate. Fernandes also has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Only 24 years old, Fernandes has a quickness about him that would perfectly fit Hütter’s quick hitting format. He has young fresh legs, Serie A experience, and Europa League experience. Fernandes is a stretch because he’s most likely out of Eintracht’s price range, but would be the best suited to take over Haller’s duties in the middle of the field.
Maximilian Phillip – CF – Borussia Dortmund
Transfermarkt Value – $13 Million
The 25 year old Bundesliga veteran is a solid player in the middle of the field, and can go up and get balls out of the air. A solid defender, should be able to fit into what Hütter is looking for from a pressing standpoint. Playing at Borussia Dortmund, Phillip is also accustomed to a fast paced, high octane style of play. While he has been little used the last couple of years in Dortmund, he has been productive when given the opportunity. Currently touring America with BVB, and rumored to be negotiating with VFL Wolfsburg he could be gone before Eintracht has a chance to change his mind.
Kasper Dolberg – CF – AFC Ajax
Transfermarkt Value – $18 Million.
Kasper Dolberg is a young (21), developing Center Forward with nice first touch and an enormous ceiling potential. Dolberg has good size (6’2″) and can go up to win balls in the deep box area. He’s shown a nose for finding the back of the net and teammates, with 11 goals and 5 assists in 1457 minutes for Ajax last year in Eredivisie play. A veteran of both Champions League and Europa League, Dolberg is athletic enough to fit into the top of Hütter’s scheme, and somewhat fits the “Buy Young, Sell High” mindset of Freddi Bobic. While Dolberg would be a great fit in for Haller with his ability, prying him loose from Ajax might be an impossible task.
As of now, Rebic will combine with either Paciencia, Daichi Kamada, or Dejan Jovelic assuming Hütter moves to a two striker front. Last season’s model of playing three strikers together at this point seems unlikely. As fans and newspapers call for Bobic to act, hopefully he can find another set of gems that we have seen him bring in for the last several years.
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