A year ago, the story of the summer in the Bundesliga was the £33million move of Mario Gotze from boyhood club Borussia Dortmund to arch rivals Bayern Munich. Joining fellow new man at the helm, Pep Guardiola, Bayern had a record breaking season on all fronts, and finished top of the league comfortably, 19 points clear of Dortmund in second place. Fast forward 12 months and the league has already been written off as Bayern’s after the summer capture of Robert Lewandowski primarily, but also highly rated young playes Sebastian Rode and Juan Bernat. Fellow top 4 finishers Dortmund, Schalke and Bayer Levekusen have also significantly strengthened in the attacking areas, with the additions of Sidney Sam and Maxim Choupo-Moting at Schalke, Ciro Immobile and Adrian Ramos at Dortmund, and Josip Drmic and Hakan Çalhanoglu at Leverkusen. With all of the attacking talent on show, new and old, here is a list of the top five contenders for the 2014-15 Bundesliga Golden Boot.
Where better to start than last season’s Golden Boot winner Robert Lewandowski. 20 Goals in 33 games kept Dortmund ahead in the race for second place in the league throughout most of the season, but 11 assists from the Pole shows a different aspect to his game which he is rarely given credit for. Having allegedly agreed a deal to join Bayern in the Summer of 2013, it is testament to the Striker’s character that he could still go on to finish as league top scorer, all the while not really hitting full stride either. While Mario Mandzukic did notably well for Bayern last time out, it was still seen that Bayern’s final missing link was a world class Striker. With Lewandowski now on board though, incredibly as a free transfer too, expect Bayern to be even stronger in all competitions next season. Lewandowski is the overwhelming bookies favourite for the Bundesliga Golden Boot this coming season, and it would take a lengthy spell on the sidelines to rule him out of contention you would think.
At least with Lewandowski’s future being secured from an early stage, Borussia Dortmund had many months to work on finding a suitable replacement for him. That is exactly what they did too. Adrian Ramos was first brought in, adding guile and Bundesliga experience to the Dortmund squad, but the signature of Italian Ciro Immobile sticks out. With 22 goals in 33 league games, Immobile won the 2013-14 Capocannoniere (Serie A Golden Boot) ahead of Luca Toni and Carlos Tevez in second and third place respectively. Immobile started his career in the Juventus Primavera (youth) squads, and actually made three appearances for the full Juventus side between 2009 and 2010. During a Serie B loan spell at Pescara in the 2011-12 season, Immobile teamed up with Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Verratti, and scored 28 League goals in 37 league games in the league title winning campaign that saw Pescara labelled as the playing the best football in Italy. Big moves eventually came for the three former Pescara stars, and it would be fate for them to face up against each other in the Champions League this coming season.
Long term Arsenal target Josip Drmic topped off a great first season in the Bundesliga season with a strong World Cup campaign with Switzerland to match. Born in Switzerland to Croatian parents, Drmic began his career with decorated Swiss Super League side FC Zurich, making his first team debut aged only 17. A breakthrough season came in the 2012-13 season for Zurich – scoring 19 goals in from 39 games in all competitions, and in turn generating interest from all corners of Europe. As is becoming quite standard with top performing Swiss Super League players, a Bundesliga move was the next (logical) step. Nurnberg were the lucky beneficiary, snapping Drmic up for only £2million. Despite a superb season from Drmic, scoring 17 league goals despite a drought of clear cut chances for his side at times, he could not save them from relegation. Arsenal again were seen as favourites to sign Drmic, so it came as a surprise to some that he decided to stay in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen, signing a five year deal for a mere £6million. Drmic will revel in a much more creative team next season, and would certainly be worth a punt as an outsider for the Bundesliga Golden Boot award.
The future of Borussia Dortmund winger Marco Reus has been one of the prominent stories of this transfer window. A slightly injury hit campaign at times last season finished well, with the German firing in 16 goals league, getting 14 assists too. While Reus stated numerous times last season that he was more than happy at Dortmund, there has been rumours of strong interest from Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and even Atletico Madrid in this past week. Dortmund moved to quash these rumours, making Reus vice-captain for the upcoming season as he returns from the ankle ligament injury that saw him miss Germany’s World Cup victory out in Brazil. I believe Reus will stay at Dortmund this summer, and go on to be the key player for Dortmund that he has been over the previous two seasons.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has been on the wrong end of two serious knee injuries in recent times, but was like a new signings for Schalke at the back end of last season upon his return to action. Huntelaar was a striker tipped for greatness early in his professional career, especially after back to back 30 plus goal seasons for Ajax. Real Madrid signed Huntelaar for around £22million after ad ons, but it was a move that seemingly came too early in the Dutchman’s career. After one season at Real Madrid and then AC Milan the following year, Schalke took a punt on the boy wonder whose career had seemingly stagnated. After a decent first season in Germany, Huntelaar went berserk the next. As well as scoring 29 League goals (the most in the Bundesliga for 35 years), Huntelaar finished with 48 goals in 48 games in all competitions. While long term injuries followed for almost two seasons on and off, Huntelaar did return at the back end of last season to score 12 league goals in 18 appearances. If Huntelaar can stay fit all season, do not bet against the man Louis Van Gaal described as “the best penalty box player in the world bar none” to challenge for the Top Scorer title.
Who do you think will win the golden boot in the Bundesliga this season? Is it one of the five above or even someone that we have overlooked? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @TBRFootball .