And we are back! Let’s get all things Bundesliga going again here at Statsbomb with a winter transfer roundup. How will the new signings of Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund impact the title race? What’s up with Herbstmeister RB Leipzig’s transfer decisions? And which other winter signings should peak our attention in the remainder of this Bundesliga season? Let’s take a look.
So, let’s start off with a pretty weird one. Weird, from a Real Madrid perspective, that is. Because the Spanish powerhouse is willing to loan Álvaro Odriozola to defensively decimated Bayern München – a Champions League rival – for the remainder of the season, whilst not having a proper back-up in-house for starting right-back Dani Carvajal.
Although Odriozola could not produce the same form and production in Madrid as he did in his fine 2017/18 season for Real Sociedad, Bayern seem to be getting a fine addition for the right-back position. With Niklas Süle out for the season, Lucas Hernández out injured for the first six months of his Bayern tenure, Jérôme Boateng falling off a cliff form-wise, Benjamin Pavard’s ups and downs and Javi Martínez picking up his once-a-season-knock, the defence has been patchwork almost every week.
But the addition of loanee Odriozola will not only help out the backline. With another right-footed defender to choose from, Hansi Flick can now use Joshua Kimmich as a full-time midfielder. In the shadow of Robert Lewandowski monster production, Kimmich has been excellent as the sole defensive midfielder in Flick’s high-pressing 4-1-4-1.
We’ll keep this one short, because I have a strong suspicion (wink-wink) that you’ll be able to find plenty of Erling Haaland-related content on this here website in the coming months – y’know, with the Norwegian teenager being a prodigious striking talent and all that. But, yeah. Borussia Dortmund have added some serious fire-power with this winter signing.
Three weird things occurred with Leipzig and winter signings this month. First, Haaland did not travel the well known route between Red Bull Salzburg and the East German ‘mother club’, even opting for a move to a rival of Leipzig. The same can be said for Salzburg central defender Marin Pongragic’ (see below) move to VfL Wolfsburg – although Leipzig already have an amazing amount of talented centre back. But maybe the most surprising bit of transfer news concerning the current Bundesliga leaders was the winter move of Diego Demme.
Of all outfield players in the squad, only Timo Werner, Lukas Klostermann and Marcel Sabitzer played more minutes for Leipzig before the winter break than the diminutive midfield motor Demme. But Julian Nagelsmann has stated time and time again that he is primarily a players-first-manager, and that he will not stand in the way if one of his players can make a dream move. With Demme’s Napoli move (Demme is half-Italian), those words hold true.
That Leipzig hasn’t searched for a direct replacement of the defensive midfielder, tells a lot about the club’s expectations surrounding Tyler Adams. The 20 year-old American played in Demme’s spot in midfield in the first league game of 2020, and seems to be a starting lineup candidate for the remainder of this season.
The good news for Bayer Leverkusen: Die Werkself are only five points out of second placed Bayern München in mid-January. The bad news: Peter Bosz’ squad has been extremely inconsistent thus far, trading excellent performances with very shaky outings on a week-to-week basis.
To combat this inconsistency, Leverkusen have made a splash signing this month. For a fee surrounding 17 million Euros, they’ve brought in River Plate wonder boy Exequiel Palacios. The 21-year old midfield dynamo can do a bit of everything on the pitch, and, very important for Bosz’ press-heavy playing style, can handle an extreme workload. Leverkusen have paid a lofty fee for the young Argentinian, but this signing has the potential to be a super move.
The same can be said for Wolfsburg’s signing of Salzburg centre-back Pongracic. With the 10 million Euro signing of the Croatian defenceman, Die Wölfe are adding to their strength. Under new manager Oliver Glasner, Wolfsburg haven’t wowed anyone this season – they lack the individual player talent to do so, to be fair – but they have sneakily been one of the best defensive teams in the Bundesliga thus far.
Pongracic, only made five league appearances this season but the 22 year-old was downright excellent for Salzburg, when he did play and Wolfsburg have added another serious defensive talent to their squad.
Kevin Vogt was one of TSG Hoffenheim’s most important players, when Nagelsmann was still at the helm. The gigantic (6 foot 4, 190 pounds) former midfielder served as a crucial ‘backline playmaker’ as the most central man in Nagelsmann back three in the defensive heart. But with the arrival of new manager Alfred Schreuder, and the switch to a somewhat more expansive style of build-up play, Vogt’s star faded at Hoffenheim this season.
Enter Werder Bremen, who had a horrible first half of the season, and seem to have find an ideal band-aid in loanee Vogt. With Werder conceding a league-leading (trailing, if you will) 41 goals before the winter break, manager Florian Kohfeldt seems to have settled on a 5-3-2 setup as the new playing system, to shore up the defensive performances. Vogt adds strength, experience and plus-level passing ability as the central man in Werder’s revamped backline.
January 2020 can serve as a neat microcosm of Schalke’s transfer policy of recent years. Former Tottenham badboy Nabil Bentaleb (Newcastle United), 2. Bundesliga standout Steven Skrzybski (Fortuna Düsseldorf) and underrated Eredivisie attacker Mark Uth (FC Köln) were all deemed no longer necessary, and were loaned out.
Out go three safe, but failed gambles. In come two new ones. To bolster the defence, Schalke 04 turn to ‘the next Raphaël Varane’, Jean-Clair Todibo, who did not, in fact, turn out to be ‘the next Raphaël Varane’ in his first months at Barcelona. (Related: maybe stop naming talented teenagers the next so-and-so.)
But if Todibo can regain the form from his first months in the first squad of Toulouse, Die Königsblauen have added a fine defensive talent to their ranks.
In attack, Schalke took the opposite approach, as with Michael Gregoritsch (25), manager David Wagner has gotten an extra, Bundesliga-proven option for his frontline. The Austrian fizzled out at FC Augsburg, but scored on his Schalke debut on Friday.