From Sadio Mane to Christopher Nkunku, Florian Wirtz and Mario Götze, Bundesliga clubs have been active early on in this summer's transfer window, be it through big-name signings, high-profile contract extensions or bringing familiar faces back to Germany's top flight. All of which points to a star-studded 2022/23 campaign…
Borussia Dortmund began the transfer merry-go-round as early as February this year with the announcement that they had agreed a deal to bring Bayern Munich centre-back Niklas Süle to the club from July onwards.
The Germany international arrives on a free transfer, given that his contract in Munich expires at the end of June. He will be tasked with plugging the gaps in a leaky defence that conceded 52 goals in the Bundesliga last season - only one fewer than relegated Arminia Bielefeld.
He will be aided in that mission by fellow new arrival and Germany international Nico Schlotterbeck, who moves to the Signal Iduna Park from Freiburg.
"I looked up to him, and I'm so happy that I can now play in the same team as him. And Niki [Süle] did what I want to do in my career: at a very young age, he moved to a huge club and made his mark. My aim is to do that here too, so I'm delighted that the three of us are now together."
In early May Dortmund also wrapped up deals for Karim Adeyemi and Salih Özcan to reinvigorate their attack and midfield respectively, as new sporting director Sebastian Kehl hit the ground running after taking over from Michael Zorc. If BVB can match that same efficiency on the pitch, they could be in for a very successful campaign.
Dortmund were far from the only team to get deals signed, sealed and delivered early on. Less than two weeks after the 2021/22 season had ended, Bayer Leverkusen announced that star striker Patrik Schick - who finished second only to Robert Lewandowski in the scoring charts last term with 24 goals - had extended his contract at the club until 2027.
"I really feel at home here," said Schick upon inking his new deal, having helped Die Werkself become one of the most entertaining sides to watch in the 2021/22 Bundesliga.
Head coach Gerardo Seoane combined an attacking philosophy with an unbending will to win as the team finished third, and Schick feels there is more to come.
"Above all, our team has great potential for the future," he said. "It's a lot of fun to play with these guys and we're all really hungry to achieve big things. Qualifying for the Champions League is a good next step. There are a lot of possibilities here, which is why I've extended my contract at Leverkusen."
While Schick was not a new signing per se, his decision to commit for the next five years was still a huge statement of intent from both player and club. Indeed, it may have played a part in Leverkusen securing the signature of fellow Czech Republic international Adam Hlozek - considered one of European football's hottest prospects - as well as persuading Germany international Florian Wirtz to sign an extension of his own until 2027.
Watch: The best of Patrik Schick
And Wirtz, like Schick, hailed the team's potential as a contributing factor in prolonging his stay at the BayArena. "The boys here are an important reason why I feel at home here and why everything's gone so well overall," the 19-year-old attacking midfielder said.
"There's a lot more to come from us and this club. That's what we want to show all Bayer fans - and also those that aren't! The development over the last couple of years has been breathtaking for me, and certainly not something I could have anticipated. I'm well aware that the team has played its role in that."
The sense of big things brewing has also influenced personnel matters at RB Leipzig. Not only did they pluck midfield dynamo and Austria international Xaver Schlager from Wolfsburg and snare Germany international David Raum from Hoffenheim, they were also able to extend Nkunku's contract until 2026.
After posting 20 goals and 13 in assists in 34 league outings last term, the France international won the Bundesliga Player of the Season award (in addition to being named Player of the Month four times in 2021/22) and also became one of the most coveted players in the world game.
Watch: Nkunku the Leipzig superstar
A fantastic dribbler who is able to flit between the lines, pick out a teammate with a pass or provide the finishing touch himself, Nkunku is very much the holy grail of what sporting directors and coaches look for in a player. He is someone who can not only do it all, but do it all consistently brilliantly.
"I'm very happy in Leipzig," he told the club's official website. "I can feel that after winning our first title [the DFB Cup], the whole team has got even hungrier and we want to pick up more silverware. All of that together led me to decide to extend my contract here."
No wonder Leipzig soon rebranded their season ticket sales with the tagline: "It's not just a season ticket, it's a 'Christo-is-staying-in-Leipzig-ticket.'" Don't bother trying to get one: they're all gone already.
Staying on the subject of important extensions, Hertha Berlin have tied down 35-year-old veteran Kevin-Prince Boateng for another year. "He's our leader who carries everyone along with him," said sporting director Fredi Bobic, the man tasked with rebuilding the Old Lady after their brush with relegation at the end of last season.
Part of his plan has included firming up the defence, with Jonjoe Kenny returning to the Bundesliga following a spell with Schalke in 2019/20. "I have fantastic memories of the Bundesliga," said the 25-year-old right-back.
"The way the game's played here, the atmosphere, the number of fans - it's a league with a great deal of quality. I can hardly wait to play here again. Taking this step feels absolutely right."
A sublimely gifted attacking midfielder, Götze initially made a name for himself in two Bundesliga-winning seasons at Dortmund before switching to Bayern in 2013, winning a further three league titles. He subsequently returned to BVB, but has spent the last two years with PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
"The fact that a player like Mario Götze has chosen, with full conviction, Eintracht Frankfurt over numerous other offers speaks volumes for the outstanding image that the club has built over the past few years," said Frankfurt sporting director Markus Krösche.
"I don't need to say much about his footballing qualities. We've been lacking a player of his type. Mario's technical ability will help our game enormously, particularly when we're in possession against deep-lying opponents. Moreover, he can showcase his strengths in virtually any attacking position, which gives us even more tactical variability. Last but not least, he brings many years of experience at the highest international level."
And what of Bayern themselves? Well, they may have reached a verbal agreement with Barcelona for the transfer of Lewandowski, but they've crucially seen Joshua Kimmich (until 2025), Thomas Müller (2024), Manuel Neuer (2024), Kingsley Coman (2027), Leon Goretzka (2026) and Serge Gnabry (2026) all extend their contracts in recent months.
The club have also been very productive. The signings of right-back Noussair Mazraoui and central midfielder Ryan Gravenberch were confirmed in June - the pair both arrived from Ajax - while the club flexed its considerable muscle by bringing in Mane and Matthijs de Ligt from Liverpool and Juventus respectively.
Watch: Mane - the Bundesliga's new superstar
"Fans come to the stadiums to see such players," said club president Herbert Hainer. And no doubt they will. The Senegal international can play in a variety of positions across the attack, making a side already boasting Müller, Coman, Leroy Sane, Jamal Musiala and Gnabry even more fearsome.
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