With the exception of Kevin de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan, imports from the German Bundesliga have generally failed to live up to their billing in English top-flight football. As far, only Manchester City can claim major on the pitch returns from their purchases while the rest rue their mistakes.
West Ham made a punt to the tune of €40 million on Sebastian Haller. The Frenchman was supposed to become the Hammers main goal-scoring threat. But the former Eintracht Frankfurt manager flattered to deceive, managing just seven Premier League goals from 27 outings before the season came to a halt.
In Tyneside, Newcastle United broke their transfer record on Joelinton. The burly Brazilian forward was only signed for €2 million a year prior but commanded €44 million to move from Hoffenheim. His season has actually been worse, with a single Premier League strike against his name.
The forwards purchased this year from Bundesliga are not the only players who have struggled in England. One can famously remember Bastian Schweinsteiger rotting on Manchester United’s bench after moving from Bayern Munich.
At Chelsea, World Cup winner Andre Schurrle spent two years contributing cameos and was let go. Marko Marin, despite superlatives thrown at him at a young age, left Stamford Bridge after making only six appearances in four years.
Arsenal have not exactly been lucky with their Bundesliga purchases either. Hamburg academy graduate, Shkodran Mustafi, has failed to justify any real transfer value in the eyes of Gooners, while Granit Xhaka continues to divide opinion at the Emirates Stadium.
Incoming invasion of Bundesliga stars
Barring a few, the high-profile transfers have failed to materialize. And it is an interesting backdrop to Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, and Thorgan Hazard’s imminent arrival on English shores – all players have made football fans abroad seek out a weekly Bundesliga live stream.
Only Sancho and Hazard have a taste of the Premier League but the rest are untested in the physically demanding competition. And it is not that they will come cheaply.
Havertz, Werner and Sancho will command fees in the range of €100 million. While Haaland and Hazard can be procured for €70 million. These sums are pocket change and will dent the bottom lines of clubs.
Christian Pulisic’s inability to adjust in Premier League is a damning verdict. Chelsea made him a priority signing, one who was supposed to take Eden Hazard’s place in the line-up. The American has shown glimpses of talent, but not consistently.
The Blues now have their eyes set on Jadon Sancho and Timo Werner. The duo have been sensational in Bundesliga and have also impressed in the Champions League. But question marks remain on their ability to settle in at Stamford Bridge and help them close the gap on Liverpool and Manchester City.
Manchester United were understandably cautious in their approach for Erling Haaland. The Norwegian teenager was scoring for fun with Red Bull Salzburg and now with Borussia Dortmund but does not even have a complete season under his belt. But will command a mammoth fee given his displays so far. The Red Devils were called out by their own fans for their inability to sign but their reluctance is understandable.
It is a precarious situation for Premier League clubs. Thanks to the lucrative television deals, the English clubs can outbid German clubs in the transfer market. But question marks about the return on investment remains. Bottom half clubs can make ‘inspired’ purchases in hopes of them striking rich but top clubs have other options as well. Options that will command similar sums but offer more value.
It remains to be seen what the future brings for these exciting stars. They have time on their hands and their potential is not under question. Only their ability to adapt in the more agile league. They need managers to help them develop, and in Arteta, Ancelotti, Klopp, Lampard, Guardiola and Solskjaer they cannot ask for more.