Manuel Neuer to Mario Gotze, the fabulous to the flops from Bundesliga's last 10 big summer transfers

Matt Jones 17/08/2019
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Ah, the summer. It can be the best and worst time to be a football fan. For those who can’t stomach three months without seriously meaningful games to others who despise the constant scheming, planning, rumour-mongering that is the incessant transfer market.

And yet, there’s something so captivating when your club signs a new player – be it someone the manager has coveted for a while, a surprise coup who has been stolen away from under the nose of a rival or an up-and-coming talent.

Of course, that excitement can rise or decline depending on how well the player performs in the ensuing season and how much money is forked over.

When you shell out a lot of money on a player, you expect a return. But as you can see below, it doesn’t always work out that way.

In the latest of our series, we take a look at the 10 most expensive Bundesliga signings in each of the last 10 summers, and deliver a verdict on whether they’ve flourished or flopped.

2018

ABDOU DIALLO (Mainz to Borussia Dortmund)

Fee: €28m

Abdou Diallo

From Mainz, to Dortmund to Paris Saint-Germain in two seasons, that is some rise for Diallo. Well, not really. Sure, his 2017/18 campaign with the Karnevalsverein (Carnival club) was an exciting ride that convinced Dortmund to part with a hefty sum for his services, but he looked all at sea in a youthful, inexperienced team last season which was horribly exposed at times.

They conceded 44 goals in the Bundesliga and results including April’s 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich and a 3-3 draw in February with Hoffenheim (they had led 3-0 in the 74th minute) ultimately put paid to what, at one stage, had looked a strong title challenge from Lucien Favre’s men.

The Frenchman’s trust in youth is admirable, but his young stars didn’t repay the favour, certainly the defence where Diallo and, more pointedly, Dan-Axel Zagadou looked undercooked.

The club’s fans may see his departure as a waste after only one season but a return to his home country – he’s hardly likely to get much of a look in at the Parc des Princes ahead of Thiago Silva, Marquinhos et el – in exchange for the return of prodigal son Mats Hummels, is a no-brainer.

MISS

2017

CORENTIN TOLISSO (Lyon to Bayern Munich)

Fee: €41.5m

Tolisso

A player with huge promise and still a huge future ahead of him, but after an impressive bow in Bavaria following a big-money move from Lyon, last season was unfortunately curtailed by a horrible injury for the industrious French midfielder.

It had all started so brilliantly at Bayern too. He followed up a 14-goal final season at Lyon with 10 goals in 40 appearances for the German giants in 2017/18 and completed a brilliant 12 months by playing a significant role in Les Bleus’ World Cup triumph last summer, providing an assist for Antoine Griezmann’s goal in the 2-0 quarter-final win over Uruguay.

But in just the third game of last season Tolisso ruptured a cruciate ligament in his right knee in a 3-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen and missed the entire season.

Undoubtedly a fine signing and a future star should he come back and continue on his upward trajectory. But we’re staying on the fence for now.

JURY’S OUT

2016

MATS HUMMELS (Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich)

Fee: €35m

Hummels during his Dortmund days with Jurgen Klopp.

Hummels during his Dortmund days with Jurgen Klopp.

He’s back where it all began – well actually that’s not true as he was originally plucked from Bayern Munich’s production line in 2008 after a successful loan spell. But the Westfalenstadion is where Hummels became a hero, although he turned villain three summers ago when he swapped an exciting project at Dortmund for the big lights and big bucks of Bavaria. Three titles followed as well as one DFB-Pokal.

In the days of Jurgen Klopp, when Dortmund took Bayern all the way in the 2013 Champions League final, the two-horse title race in Germany was genuinely fascinating.

But since the asset-stripping of BVB went into overdrive with Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski and Hummels joining the mighty Munich in the space of four summers, it’s almost become as pointless as the Juventus and PSG processions elsewhere in Europe.

The fact Hummels’ sale only tightened Bayern’s grip on the Bundesliga and extended the chasm between the two sides, not to mention swelled the mighty Munich trophy cabinet, saw the Yellow Wall crumble.

Hopefully his return can help them in their rebuild as they look to scale the tall task of denying Bayern an eighth-straight title.

HIT

2015

JULIAN DRAXLER (Schalke to Wolfsburg)

Fee: €43m

julian-draxler-wolfsburg

This isn’t so much an argument of failing to impress, as much as it is an admittance from Draxler of accepting mediocrity. The German is only 25 and has his best years ahead of him – it’s just a shame he’s chosen to spend them on PSG’s bench, hidden beneath the considerable shadows of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

This was a player who was one of the most coveted young stars around at the turn of the decade when he began sparkling at Schalke. Draxler made his Bundesliga debut aged just 17 in January 2011, and in May of that year scored the first goal as his side won the DFB Pokal final against Duisburg.

He was part of the 2014 World Cup-winning squad and attracted interest from the Premier League as well as Juventus. He eventually switched Schalke for Wolfsburg where he development stalled somewhat before being snapped up by PSG 18 months later. He’s since lifted two Ligue 1 titles as well as two Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligues.

But he’s by no means the leading man. In fact he’s about the ninth or tenth most important player in Paris and you can’t help but feel he’s wasting his talent, which at one stage seemed exponential.

MISS

2014

MEDHI BENATIA (Roma to Bayern Munich)

Fee: €28m

Benatia

Bayern beat Manchester City, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid to the signing of Benatia in August 2014 – the Moroccan was one of the most coveted centre-backs in world football at the time.

If you were to simply scan Wikipedia and see Benatia’s next move was to Italian giants Juventus, you’d happily assume he was making strides in the game. Except Benatia was loaned to the Bianconeri after failing to establish himself in Bavaria, where he made only 24 and then 22 appearances in his two seasons, unable to break through with Jerome Boateng, David Alaba and Javi Martinez ahead of him.

It was a similarly turbulent time in Turin, where 60 appearances were made before a January 2019 exit. He was supposedly close to joining Manchester United only to pitch up in the Middle East with Qatar’s Al Duhail.

Much more was expected of a player who emerged through the same Clairefontaine training centre in France as Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka and Kylian Mbappe.

MISS

2013

MARIO GOTZE (Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich)

Fee: €37m

Mario Goetze

One of the most beautiful players Germany has ever produced, let alone during the last 20 years. Ignore the fact Gotze was the latest player to break BVB hearts when he swapped Westphalia for riches and silverware in Bavaria; the little magician’s move to the Allianz was seen as the elite stage he needed to press home his claim to be one of the standout players of his generation.

He’d switched from yellow to red in 2013 and a year later followed up a decent debut campaign in Munich with the winner in the World Cup final as Germany defeated Argentina 1-0.

Joachim Low substituted Gotze on in the 88th minute and allegedly told him: “Show the world you are better than Messi and can decide the World Cup.”

He duly did, but the World Cup is the only stage on which Gotze has got the better of Messi. He backed up his first season with another solid outing for Bayern in 2014/15 even though he received criticism from club legend Franz Beckenbauer for poor form. After an injury-plagued 2015/16 season, however, he returned to Dortmund, where in 2017 it was revealed he was suffering from a muscle disease injury.

Despite this he scored seven goals in 34 games last term – his best tallies for both in four seasons – and looks to be getting back to his best. The good news for Dortmund is Gotze is still only 27 so his peak years lie ahead.

MISS

2012

JAVI MARTINEZ (Athletic Bilbao to Bayern Munich)

Fee: €40m

Javi Martínez (centre)

When you think of versatility, Austrian Alaba might come to mind. But at Bayern, Spanish midfielder Martinez is the proverbial Siwss army knife of footballers – equally comfortable at the base of central midfield, at the heart of central defence, even at right-back.

Even if his time at the club has been curtailed by injuries – he missed a year and five months after tearing knee ligaments in the German Super Cup clash with Dortmund in August 2014 – his importance to the team cannot be understated.

In the 5-0 thrashing of BVB in April last season – the result that handed the initiative back to Bayern in the title race – the former Bilbao man snapped into tackles, competed for headers and used every inch of his 6′ 2″ frame to bully Dortmund. He even got on the scoresheet for the third time in four games. His four strikes last term was the 30-year-old’s best return.

“He is a real personality on the pitch for the team,” gushed coach Niko Kovac. “He’s made for this level.”

Seventeen major trophies in seven seasons bookends the discussion nicely, don’t you think.

HIT

2011

MANUEL NEUER (Schalke to Bayern Munich)

Fee: €30m

0414 Neuer

It may be engrained in our brains how badly injury has befallen the Bavarian behemoth in recent years. But none of that misery can bury how much of a colossal impact Neuer has had – not just on Bayern but also goalkeeping – since his arrival eight years ago.

The Gelsenkirchen-born goalkeeper was the best of the best between the sticks from 2011-15 before David De Gea and subsequently Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Jab Oblak took his crown. But the Octopus looks like he’ll be fit enough to get back to his imperious best in 2019/20, even if Father Time is catching up with the 33-year-old.

Neuer had long been considered one of the best rising young talents during his formative years with Schalke. But once he moved to Bayern in the summer of 2011, both player and club flourished.

He has got his hands on a glut of silverware in the ensuing eight years, hoisting seven straight Bundesliga crowns as well as 2012/13’s Champions League and the 2014 World Cup with Germany. Individually the stopper’s also grabbed a litany of awards including four UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year accolades. The easiest pick on this list.

HIT

2010

DIEGO (Juventus to Wolfsburg)

Fee: €15.5m

Diego

Check out our review of Serie A later in this series to find the Brazilian featuring once again. And just like his trip to Turin in 2009, this does also not make delightful reading for Diego.

Had moved for the bright lights and the Bianconeri a year earlier with huge promise and potential, but failed to light up the Allianz Stadium (then the Juventus Stadium).

Skulked back to Germany and the Wolves with his tail between his legs after a torrid time in Turin, but it didn’t get much better for him – beside the wads of cash he pocketed of course. But as for footballing stardom, his career has petered out with the 34-year-old now back in his homeland with Flamengo after a fleeting European farewell with Fenerbahce.

Came to prominence at Werder Bremen and returned to a city known as the home of Volkswagen, but the road to redemption was rough upon that return. From being fined £86,000 by then manager Steve McClaren for taking the ball off designated taker Patrick Helmes in a game against Hanover 96 – he subsequently missed and Wolfsburg lost 1-0.

To leaving the club with six substitutes after he disappeared from the hotel upon finding out he wasn’t starting a relegation decider against Hoffenheim that same May, Diego and Wolfsburg’s relationship was destined to break down.

MISS

2009

MARIO GOMEZ (Stuttgart to Bayern Munich)

Fee: €30m

0806 Gomez

Lewandowski garnered plenty of attention – nothing new there – during the 2018/19 season, for surpassing 200 Bundesliga goals, only the fifth player in history to do so after Gerd Muller, Klaus Fischer, Jupp Heynckes and Manfred Burgsmuller.

Claudio Pizarro also grabbed a little of the limelight too when, in February, he became the German top flight’s oldest ever goalscorer after netting an equaliser against Hertha Berlin. He was 40 and 136 days old, beating the record of Miroslav Votava.

Gomez’s continued excellence went unnoticed. But then, despite his gargantuan goalscoring prowess, that has tended to be the story of the 34-year-old’s career. He has bagged 299 career goals in 564 games and lies 11th on the all-time Bundesliga scorers list with 170 strikes in 328 matches – his 0.52 ratio is better than both Fischer and Burgsmuller.

And yet, he always seems to have played second fiddle. To Miroslav Klose at international level, and Pizarro, Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Muller at Bayern – although his 39 goals in 45 games overall in his second season after moving from Stuttgart was nothing short of stunning.

Won two league titles, two DFB-Pokal’s not to mention the Champions League during four seasons in Bavaria.

HIT

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Jadon Sancho stars as Borussia Dortmund beat Bayern Munich 2-0 in German Super Cup

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England forward Jadon Sancho scored a goal and set-up another as Borussia Dortmund beat Bayern Munich 2-0 on Saturday to deny the German league and cup champions a fourth straight Super Cup title.

Sancho, 19, fed Spain forward Paco Alcacer for Dortmund’s opener just after the break before clinching the victory and his side’s first trophy since 2017 with a clinical finish within the final half an hour of play.

“We absolutely wanted to win this match, it was very difficult,” said Dortmund coach Lucien Favre.

“Bayern were very strong and had a lot of possession but we defended well and stayed very compact. We knew that we had to go on the counter-attack and we did that very well.”

Bayern, who pipped Favre’s side to the Bundesliga title last season and lifted the German Cup, were without World Cup-winning left-back and new signing Lucas Hernandez due to a knee problem.

Dortmund’s big name summer arrivals of winger Thorgen Hazard and Julian Brandt, as well as defender Mats Hummels, returning to the club after three seasons in Bavaria, were also ruled out due to injuries.

Bayern captain Manuel Neuer said errors proved costly. “We gave Dortmund the match by making too many mistakes,” Neuer said.

Dortmund

“We made the mistakes all on our own, we gave them possession and that’s why we conceded the goals.”

The home side, who finished second in the league last season, had a good early chance.

Portugal winger Raphael Guerreiro broke down the left flank and cut back to find captain Marco Reus inside the penalty box. Reus’s effort was well saved by Neuer after less than a minute of play.

Neuer was in the action once again after a quarter of an hour as he rushed out of his box to close down Alcacer 30 metres from goal. Alcacer beat Neuer to the ball but his shot dribbled past the goal.

Bayern’s best opportunity of the first half fell to Kingsley Coman 10 minutes later.

He found himself unmarked in the box but his toe-poked shot was saved by Marwin Hitz low to the right.

Bayern’s inability to make the most of the ball in first 45 minutes came back to bite them almost immediately after the break.

Sancho attacked down the left drawing four Bayern defenders with quick step-overs.

The teenager fed striker Alcacer at the edge of the box who beat Neuer with a low shot for a 1-0 lead on 48 minutes.

Dortmund’s lead was doubled with 22 minutes to go from a clinical counter-attack.

Sancho was free once again on the right wing, he burst into the box beyond Bayern’s back-four and nutmegged the experienced Neuer to make it 2-0.

Influential Sancho left the field with 10 minutes to play after seeming to be hurt following an off-the-field challenge by Joshua Kimmich.

Bayern coach Niko Kovac brought on Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches and France World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard late-on but they were unable to find the goals to retain the title and the early-season bragging rights.

Bayern start the defence of their league title by hosting Hertha Berlin on Friday August 16 and Dortmund play Augsburg a day later.

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Chelsea's Ethan Ampadu loaned to RB Leipzig - British players who made Bundesliga move

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Chelsea teenager Ethan Ampadu’s loan to RB Leipzig is the latest in a number of moves British players have made to the Bundesliga.

PA looks at some of those and how they fared.

Reece Oxford, aged 20 (Borussia Monchengladbach, 2018/19 & Augsburg, 2019)

He may have become West Ham’s youngest player, making his debut aged 16 years and 198 days in July 2015 but his career has not progressed as he would have hoped. Two years later he went to Borussia Munchengladbach on loan but made just three appearances before his spell was cut short in December, only to return to the club a month later where he made a further four appearances. Another loan to the Bundesliga followed in January 2019 when he signed for struggling Augsburg, for whom he played just nine times after being sent off in February.

Oliver Burke, 22 (RB Leipzig, 2016/17)

Less than two years after making his debut for Nottingham Forest as a 17-year-old in 2014 Burke moved to RB Leipzig in a £13million move. He made 25 appearances as the team finished runners-up to Bayern Munich, although he started just five of those games. He returned to England with West Brom the following season before spending the second half of last season on loan at Celtic.

Jadon Sancho, 19 (Borussia Dortmund, 2017-present)

Omitted from Manchester City’s pre-season tour squad in the summer of 2017, Sancho signed for Dortmund for £8million and made his debut in October that year. He made 12 appearances in his first season but impressed enough to be given a new contract and was named Bundesliga player of the month in October 2019. He finished the season with 43 appearances, 13 goals and was named in the Bundesliga team of the season.

Ademola Lookman, 21 (RB Leipzig, 2018)

Then manager Sam Allardyce changed his mind in the January 2018 transfer window and allowed the winger to go out on loan but Lookman rejected a deal to Championship side Derby, insisting on a move to Germany. He came off the bench to score the winner on his debut, one of five goals in 11 appearances for the club, who tried to sign him permanently in the summer but were rebuffed.

Rabbi Matondo, 18 (Schalke, 2019-present)

After a handful of under-21 appearances for Manchester City in the Checkatrade Trophy over a couple of seasons, the Wales international moved to Schalke in a deal worth up to £11million in January 2019. He made two starts in nine appearances in the second half of the season.

Reiss Nelson, 19 (Hoffenheim, 2018-19)

The teenager made 16 appearances for Arsenal in his breakthrough season and signed a long-term contract with the Gunners before joining Hoffenheim on loan last summer. He scored seven goals in 29 appearances, most of which were as a substitute.

Ryan Kent, 22 (Freiburg, 2017)

After signing a new contract with Liverpool, Kent was loaned out to Freiburg but made just six appearances, with his only start against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. The loan deal was cut short and he returned home to join Bristol City. Had a successful loan spell at Rangers last season.

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