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 .
Would Bayer Leverkusen’s Benjamin Henrichs solve Tottenham’s full-back conundrum?
According to reports in the Daily Mail late on Monday night, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is considering a surprise swoop for Bayer Leverkusen full-back Benjamin Henrichs.
The versatile 20-year-old has impressed in recent seasons in the Bundesliga, with his solid performances earning himself a call-up for Germany’s FIFA Confederations Cup squad last month.
It is understood that Henrichs’ representatives are keen on discussing a switch to the Premier League, although Tottenham would have to meet the £18 million valuation put on the German.
Would the German be a good fit for Tottenham?
With Kyle Walker recently completing his move to Premier League rivals Manchester City, it’s arguable that Mauricio Pochettino should use the £50 million fee to re-invest in the full-back area.
Although Kieran Trippier left a lasting impression during his various appearances last season – earning himself a five-year contract extension – there is still a feeling that more strength in depth is needed.
If it is youthful exuberance, character and potential that the Argentine desires then he should look no further than Henrichs, who has burst onto the scene in Germany and really caught the eye with his displays.
What he lacks in experience – after all he is only 20-years-old – he more than makes up for in creativity and intent. Unlike Trippier, he has Walker’s natural ability to rush to the by-line and create chances for the strikers to feed off in the box, creating 1.67 chances per game last season.
On a much wider pitch at Wembley Stadium this attacking edge could really benefit Tottenham’s offensive play in the final third, taking his love of getting forward and utilising it almost as a winger.
He could do with working on his end product, but the fact of the matter is that Henrichs spends enough time in the final third that, eventually, chances will fall to the likes of Harry Kane.
The prime difference between Henrichs and Trippier, however, comes in the lack of maturity that the German has and a lack of exposure at the highest level, leaving him prone to errors in positioning.
It would be a gamble for Tottenham to move for the 20-year-old, especially with him by no means the finished article. Nonetheless given time to develop at the right team he could easily emulate Walker’s impact.
Could Javier Hernandez be the answer to West Ham’s goalscoring issues?
West Ham United are believed to have turned their attentions to Javier Hernandez, as they step up their search for a prolific goalscorer.
The Hammers have been linked with numerous strikers already this summer, including Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud and Kelechi Iheanacho of Manchester City, with Slaven Bilic targeting a marquee signing to lead their attack. According to ESPN, the West Ham manager is weighing up a move for the former Manchester United hitman.
The Mexico international, affectionately known as ‘Chicharito’, currently plies his trade in the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen. He has enjoyed a fruitful spell in Germany, where he has notched up 39 goals in 76 appearances. It is that goals-per-game ratio in one of the strongest leagues in Europe that appears to have caught the attention of Bilic.
West Ham largely struggled for goals last season as they limped to an 11th-placed Premier League finish. Andre Ayew and Andy Carroll both endured injury problems, as the Hammers found it difficult to adjust to life in the London Stadium. The Dimitri Payet saga also contributed to a toxic atmosphere at the club.[interaction id=”595a62d9f2d4938713c38873"]
Hernandez was a popular figure during a five-year-spell at Old Trafford, despite failing to establish himself in the starting XI under Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes or Louis van Gaal. However, he is a natural goalscorer who thrives on service – a real fox in the box.
A predatory instinct in front of goal is a quality the Hammers have lacked in the past few seasons, so it is easy to see why Chicharito may be of significant interest to Bilic.
Considering he is in the final year of his contract at Leverkusen, the German outfit may be tempted to cash in on Hernandez now, rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer.
The best footballers under 23-years-old to watch out for in 2017
Football’s production lines never stop and 2017 is set to be another year where potentially world class talent is about to be unearthed for the rest of the watching world to view. The most prestigious clubs around the world develop some incredible talent to boost their seasons and The Boot Room have picked out five potential world-beaters who are ready to take the footballing planet by storm…
Giovanni Simeone – Genoa, Argentina
“Cholito” as he’s called by many is making a rapid name for himself in his early months as a professional footballer in Europe. Son to Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, Giovanni joined Italy’s Genoa from River Plate and has already bagged seven goals in 17 games for the Rossoblu so far – including two against defending champions Juventus, late in November.
It was in Italy where his father made an impact with Inter Milan and Lazio and it is there where Simeone Junior is catching the eye of the biggest names in European football. The 21-year-old striker can also play as an offensive midfield player and his nimble footwork and speed have been great assets to the sides he represented before he came to Italy – River Plate and, briefly, Banfield, both in his native Argentina.
And while he does his best to make his own in Europe, several of his coaches have noted similar characteristics between him and his father. The same passion, hunger and desire to succeed will surely take him far in the continent and with the national team as well. So far, there’s talk of the Premier League as well as Napoli looking to swoop in for the young forward, but the way he’s going, that list will surely increase in number.
Kasper Dolberg – Denmark, Ajax
Ajax’s stunning carousel of spotting talent has a new member in the name of Danish Kasper Dolberg. Discovered by John Steen Olsen – the same scout that found the likes of Christian Eriksen, Victor Fischer and a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the 19-year-old forward has often drawn comparisons to the big Swede for his style and impressive goal record in his breakthrough season with the Amsterdam giants.
The forward has been scintillating in attack and can play across all areas of a front three. He’s worked on his game as a forward having started out as a left winger and has made the most of his natural talent with his speed, strength and supremely powerful right foot coming to very good use as his 11 goals in all competitions this season have helped Ajax in a relatively poor season so far.
He even bagged a 37-minute hat-trick in a game against NAC Breda in November – the second fastest Eredivisie hat-trick for Ajax after the great Marco van Basten and that boosted his reputation even further and has the finest scouts having his name at the top of their lists. Juventus, Manchester United and Manchester City have all reportedly sent scouts to watch the man so far, and a move may not be too far away.
Kasper Dolberg – 1st half of Eredivisie 16/17 [for @albionsr] pic.twitter.com/afXkeWiSDJ
— Football Radars (@FussballRadars) December 18, 2016
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