Filip Kostic, Nico Elvedi and the six best players outside of Germany's top three
From Eintracht Frankfurt's Filip Kostic putting in the most crosses to Borussia Mönchengladbach's Nico Elvedi completing a league-high percentage of passes, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund don't boast a monopoly on all the best players in the Bundesliga.
bundesliga.com turns the spotlight on those who aren't often the centre of attention…but should be.
Position: Left winger
Club: Eintracht Frankfurt
When Hamburg lost their proud, ever-present Bundesliga status in 2017/18, Kostic's career was at a low ebb. "Then came Eintracht," said the Serbia international, who had also previously been relegated with Stuttgart. "They brought me back to life and revived my career." Initially signed to a two-year loan move, the Eagles unsurprisingly swooped to make it permanent after just 12 months in which Kostic tallied double-digit assists thanks to his prodigious left foot.
Watch: Kostic takes centre stage as Frankfurt rout Augsburg
His 2019/20 campaign was arguably even better as he scored four league goals and 11 assists — only four men were more productive in the latter category — to put up numbers rivalling those of his childhood idol, former Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Germany midfielder Michael Ballack.
He was involved in just over 25 per cent of his team's league goals last term, and played in all but one of Frankfurt's Bundesliga matches after being an ever-present in 2018/19.
Naturally, his performances have awakened interest from potential suitors, but coach Adi Hütter is convinced Frankfurt fans will be able to watch the left-winger perform wonders again next season. "I don't get the feeling he's thinking about leaving," said Hütter. "And everyone here would be happy if he stays."
Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Of all the Swiss players at Gladbach, Elvedi is probably the one you notice least. The 23-year-old may be unremarkable in that regard, but even the quickest glance at the numbers he put up for the Foals during the 2019/20 should make you sit up and take notice.
Since moving to Germany after just 25 competitive games for FC Zürich shortly before his 19th birthday in 2015, Elvedi has quietly developed into one of the Bundesliga's most effective and complete centre-backs.
While his 'duels won' ratio hovered around 60 per cent last term, it is his stratospheric 95 per cent pass completion — a joint-league-high with Leverkusen's Sven Bender and Borussia Dortmund's Axel Witsel — that speaks volumes. Which is good, because if you want to hear something from an Elvedi it's more likely to be Nico's twin, Jan.
"We're two different kinds of guys," said Nico of his brother, who will play for Jahn Regensburg in Bundesliga 2 next season. "I'm quiet, he's louder and talks a lot. It was more even when we were younger, but I then became quieter." Not that it matters, his football does enough talking for him.
Position: Winger/left wing-back
After Skov beat Ebbe Sand's long-standing Danish top-flight scoring record while at Copenhagen in 2018/19, Hoffenheim fans surely expected more than just four Bundesliga goals from their summer signing's maiden season in Germany.
"I'm happy with him," said Alfred Schreuder, Skov's boss for the campaign in Sinsheim where the Denmark international right-winger was mostly used as a left wing-back. "He can play well on the right and left. We know he's a very good goalscorer and we we need that. He's an extremely dangerous forward, and causes opponents a lot of problems."
Watch: Skov scoops November Goal of the Month award
Effective at the back, Skov gave Hoffenheim fans a taste of his true value when Schreuder pushed him upfield in the latter stages of the season.
Hoffenheim's bounty of 17 goals and five wins in the closing seven matches of the season were thanks in large part to Skov's influence as he almost doubled his assists tally after the restart, ending with a healthy seven after putting his spell in defence to good use.
"There were a lot of new things to know, things I had no idea about," he told bundesliga.com. "I think it's really nice as a footballer to develop this part and when you play in attack you know what hurts the defence when you've been trying to defend really good players."
Position: Left-back/left winger
Having already been at Bayern and Schalke, Max has perhaps been written off as someone who was tried — and failed — at a big club. Not that Augsburg fans will have that opinion of their highly productive left-back, and nor should you. Former boss Martin Schmidt described Max — the son of former Bundesliga Torjägerkanone winner Martin — as "a real asset". That's an understatement.
He may 'only' have registered six assists last season — down on the 13 he totalled behind only Bayern's Thomas Müller in 2017/18 — but the last time Max got more than the eight goals he struck in 2019/20 he was playing U19 football.
Involved in 14 of his team's 45 top-flight goals as they finished just a place above the relegation/promotion play-off spot, the answer to the question, 'Where would Augsburg have been without Max?' is not one his club's supporters will want to think about.
When Cordoba joined Cologne from Mainz in 2017 aged 24, the Billy Goats' sporting director, Jörg Schmadtke, talked about his "development potential." It's been a long-time coming, but in 2019/20 Cordoba finally delivered on that promise, building on the momentum of his 20 goals in Cologne's 2018/19 Bundesliga 2 promotion push to put some weight behind comparisons with another late developer, Didier Drogba.
Watch: Cordoba stars as Cologne rip Hertha apart
Only five Bundesliga players scored more times than the strapping 6'2" forward last season as Cordoba, who turned 27 in May, enjoyed the best campaign of his career by far. Of those who boasted better tallies, only Fortuna Düsseldorf's Rouwen Hennings also featured for a club in the bottom half of the table.
After leaving his home in the Colombian jungle to go to Medellin, then Mexico, Spain and finally Germany, Cordoba has had to — literally and professionally — come a long way to become one of the Bundesliga's top goalgetters. Now that he's made it, don't expect him to stop there.
Position: Central midfielder
"I always try to push myself and be 100% committed." It's that ethos which has made Arnold such an iconic figure at the Volkswagen Arena, his home for the last decade.
Now 26, the one-time Germany international midfielder is a fixture in the centre of the park for the Wolves having developed exponentially since making his debut as a 17-year-old under Felix Magath in 2011.
Arnold missed just one game last season under Oliver Glasner — the same total as for 2018/19 with Bruno Labbadia in charge — and scored four goals and registered a career-high eight assists. You can expect him to be central to his club's Bundesliga challenge in 2020/21 too.
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