The January transfer window closed on Thursday, but not before Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Co. had seized the chance to add to their ranks with some of the brightest prospects in world football.
bundesliga.com takes a look at the new players you should be most excited about in the second half of the season…
Alphonso Davies (Vancouver Whitecaps to Bayern Munich)
Nationality: Canada (9 caps/3 goals)
Alphonso Davies may only be three months past his 18th birthday, but he has already overcome significant hurdles to hoover up a raft of records in his short career to date. Born in Ghana to parents who fled civil war in Liberia, Davies made the most of the life the family subsequently carved out for themselves in Canada. He became the first player born in this century to play a Major League Soccer match when he helped Vancouver Whitecaps to a 2-2 draw against Orlando City in July 2016 – at the tender age of 15 years, eight months and 16 days – and is now also the youngest player ever to play for and score for the Canadian men’s national team.
Left-footed, Davies is equally comfortable on either flank. At 5’11", the 18-year-old is frighteningly fast, but doesn't trade on his physical advantages alone, with his ball control and willingness to shoot early eerily reminiscent of a certain Arjen Robben. With 17 years on Bayern's flying Dutchman, he can expect plenty of chances to impress in the Rückrunde. "He’s a very talented young player who drew interest from more than just Bayern," explained coach Niko Kovac. "We're delighted to have signed such a diamond in the rough. We can't over-expose him, but he's definitely a player we've earmarked for the first team."
Amadou Haidara (Red Bull Salzburg to RB Leipzig)
Position: Central midfielder
Nationality: Mali (6 caps)
RB Leipzig have continued to impress this season, despite selling midfield talisman Naby Keita to Liverpool last summer. The Saxons currently occupy the fourth and final UEFA Champions League place, and have only conceded a league-best 18 times. At the other end, Timo Werner and Yussuf Poulsen have combined for 21 of Die Roten Bullen's 35 Bundesliga goals. Not much room for improvement, you might say, but there remains a nagging feeling that the front two – accountable for 60 percent of the side's goals – would be grateful for some thrust from midfield behind them. Enter Amadou Haidara.
Haidara and Keita grew up a little over 500 miles apart, the former in Mali's capital Bamako, the latter in Conakry in neighbouring Guinea, and both have since negotiated the well-trodden path from Salzburg to Leipzig. The similarities don't end there. Haidara's low centre of gravity belies the fact that he can dominate a game from the centre of the pitch, with quick passing between the lines a particular forte. With back-to-back Austrian Bundesliga titles to his name, his new employers are understandably excited. "There aren't many players out there who have his potential," said coach Ralf Rangnick on acquiring the 21-year-old. "He has all the prerequisites to succeed Keita."
Rabbi Matondo (Manchester City to Schalke)
Nationality: Wales (1 cap)
A lightning-quick winger who decided to turn his back on the English Premier League and come to the Bundesliga in the hope of playing regular first-team football… sound familiar? Wales international Rabbi Matondo has followed in the footsteps of England counterpart Jadon Sancho, who set a precedent for British youngsters when he rolled the dice on a move to Borussia Dortmund rather than festering in Manchester City's reserves. The results of his gamble have been quite spectacular, with BVB currently six points clear at the top thanks in no small part to Sancho's six goals and nine assists.
Matondo will be hoping for similar success down the road at Dortmund's Ruhr rivals Schalke. Blessed with incredible pace, the 18-year-old was recently clocked as the fastest sprinter at Man City, where he caught the eye of Pep Guardiola after racking up six goals and four assists in just 11 Premier League 2 outings this season. Instead of waiting for a chance that might never have come in England, though, the newly minted Dragon decided to spread his wings and try his luck in Gelsenkirchen, where he'll be hoping to imitate former teammate Leroy Sane. "He's a very exciting player because he's an attacker and extremely quick, with that ability to beat defenders," explained Wales assistant manager Osian Roberts. "He's worked under Guardiola and Mikel Arteta [at Man City] so it'll be interesting to see what he does next." Watch this space, Osian, watch this space…
Almamy Toure (Monaco to Eintracht Frankfurt)
With David Abraham, Makoto Hasebe and Marco Russ all well over 30, Frankfurt identified that their backline would need rejuvenating sooner rather than later, and pounced when Toure became available from Monaco. "He'll bring flexibility to our defence," said sporting director Fredi Bobic. "We watched him closely and we're getting a young player, but someone with plenty of experience."
Indeed, Toure made 80 first-team outings for Monaco, including 10 in the UEFA Champions League, while he was also nominated for the 'Golden Boy' award in 2016 for Europe's best young player. The 6'0" defender is powerfully built and has an enviable burst of pace, but also has superb positional awareness and enjoys getting forward – meaning he should feel right at home in Adi Hütter's side.
Leonardo Balerdi (Boca Juniors to Borussia Dortmund)
Nationality: Argentina (U20 cap)
The conveyor belt of hugely talented youngsters joining Dortmund shows no sign of stopping, with Balerdi the latest player set to roll off the Black-and-Yellow production line. He started out as a defensive midfielder, but was switched to central defence at the age of 15 – shortly after he linked up with Boca Juniors in his homeland. He only made his professional debut in August 2018, but such is his promise that BVB moved swiftly to sign him.
"He's strong in the tackle and in the air," said Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc. That much was clear at the South American U20 Championship in Chile – where Balerdi played shortly after inking his Dortmund contract, and took such a serious cut to his mouth that he couldn't play in the rest of the tournament. He's not only an old-school, no-nonsense defender though; Balerdi is also adept with the ball at his feet, with Zorc praising his "intelligence […], build-up play and passing". Manuel Akanji and Abdou Diallo, you have been warned!
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