The coronavirus outbreak has brought the 2019/20 football season to an unexpected halt, but Lucas Tousart and Joe Scally are just a couple of the new faces you should look out for this summer.
Some transfers have been in place for months now, although in the case of Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nübel – who is swapping the Royal Blues for Bayern Munich – Bundesliga fans already know what to expect.
But what about the players set to feature in the German top flight for the first time? bundesliga.com has the scoop…
Current club: Lyon
New club: Hertha Berlin
Position: Defensive midfielder
Country: France (U21 captain)
Perhaps one of the most underrated members of the Lyon squad in recent years, Lucas Tousart will bring precious physicality and leadership to the Hertha midfield. At 22, he has already made over 150 senior appearances for one of France's top clubs and captains the country's U21 side, having already won the UEFA U19 Championship in 2016 alongside Schalke's Amine Harit, RB Leipzig-owned striker Jean-Kevin Augustin and PSG star Kylian Mbappe.
By his own admission, Tousart is more steel than silk – although Lyon sporting director Juninho still raised eyebrows last summer when he publicly announced that new coach Sylvinho would need "a more technical player" in front of the defence. Tousart responded by inspiring OL to a 3-0 opening-day win over Monaco – scoring their third goal – and has rarely been out of the starting XI since. Sylvinho was relieved of his duties in October 2019.
Tousart's mental strength and no-nonsense style will serve him well in the Bundesliga, as will his eagerness to run hard and help out his teammates. He has also popped up with a couple of important goals this season – not least against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League last 16, giving Lyon a slender 1-0 aggregate lead – and his arrival should help Hertha get back to targeting Europe instead of fighting to avoid relegation.
Current club: New York City
New club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Country: USA (U17 cap)
American teenager Joe Scally will have to wait until next January to trade New York City FC for Borussia Mönchengladbach, as he only turns 18 on 31 December 2020. When he does eventually join Die Fohlen, the up-and-coming defender will be determined to follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, by making an instant star-spangled impression on the Bundesliga.
A marauding right-back who has drawn comparisons with Liverpool and England dynamo Trent Alexander-Arnold, Scally boasts impressive strength, speed and stamina. He successfully graduated from the NYCFC academy in March 2018, signing a Homegrown Player contract and making his senior debut against the New York Red Bulls at the US Open Cup. The technically gifted teenager also led his club to the 2018 Academy Championship.
Scally has won a host of caps for the USA's youth teams, winning the prestigious 2017 Torneo delle Nazioni title in Italy with the U15s and representing the U17s at the FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil. He is set to become the first NYCFC academy graduate to join a major European club, after Gio Reyna left New York for the Borussia Dortmund U19s last summer.
Current club: Las Palmas
New club: RB Leipzig
A highly rated goalkeeper who came through Barcelona's famed La Masia academy, Josep Martinez drew interest from several major European clubs before he agreed to a four-year deal with Leipzig in January. The 21-year-old is set to join Julian Nagelsmann's side on 1 July 2020, where he will serve as an understudy to No.1 keeper Peter Gulacsi.
Martinez spent two years at Barcelona after joining from hometown club Alzira, but only made two UEFA Youth League appearances for the Catalan giants before moving to Las Palmas in summer 2017. His superb record with the reserves in Segunda Division B – keeping 21 clean sheets in 55 appearances – saw him promoted to the senior squad late in 2018/19. He even played the last seven games of the Liga2 campaign as Las Palmas finished comfortably clear of the relegation zone.
Martinez continued as Pepe Mel's first-choice keeper throughout the first three months of 2019/20, before dropping back to the bench in mid-November. His performances were enough to earn him his first call-ups to the Spain U21 squad in late 2019, though he has yet to win a maiden cap for La Rojita. A hot prospect for the future, the Spaniard is sure to improve at a club – and under a coach – with a proven track record when it comes to developing young talents.
Current club: Sparta Rotterdam
New club: Eintracht Frankfurt
Country: Germany (U21 cap)/Ghana
Ragnar Ache will be making a long-awaited homecoming when he switches from Sparta Rotterdam to Eintracht Frankfurt this summer. Born in Frankfurt to a Ghanaian mother and a German father, he began playing at local side SpVgg 03 Neu-Isenburg before moving to Rotterdam for family reasons in 2009. A year later, aged 12, he joined the Sparta youth academy.
A goalkeeper during his early footballing years in Germany, Ache soon became a striker in the Netherlands. After working his way up the ranks at Sparta, he signed his first professional contract in April 2016 and made his Eredivisie debut in April 2017. After playing his part in the club's promotion back to the top flight last term – with a brace in the play-off semi-finals – he has emerged as their first-choice striker in 2019/20, notching five goals and three assists before suffering a hamstring injury at the start of the calendar year.
Ache has previously spoken of his desire to return to Germany and play for Eintracht, citing former Adler players Sebastien Haller, Jetro Willems and Kevin-Prince Boateng – another German-Ghanaian – as "examples" to follow. He has already represented Germany at U21 level, scoring on his debut against Belgium in a UEFA European U21 Championship qualifier. A versatile, powerful forward who is strong in the air and can also operate on the left flank, Ache should feel right at home at the Commerzbank-Arena – in more ways than one.
Current club: Osnabrück
New club: Werder Bremen
Country: Germany (U21 cap)/Nigeria
Another Germany U21 international who has been quietly making a name for himself in recent months, Felix Agu is set to get a first taste of the Bundesliga next term when he trades boyhood club VfL Osnabrück for Werder Bremen – as long as the 17th-placed Grün-Weiße avoid relegation, that is.
Born in Osnabrück, the 20-year-old joined the VfL youth setup in 2010 and worked his way up the ladder, getting his first taste of senior football in the third tier at the end of 2017/18. He made 15 appearances in 2018/19, scoring two goals as Die Lila-Weiße won promotion back to Germany's second division. He has continued as a regular starter this term, and found himself on the radar of a host of Bundesliga teams when he made his first appearances for the Germany U21s at the back end of 2019.
Quality full-backs are a rare and precious commodity in the modern game, and Agu has the considerable advantage of being able to play down either the right or left flank. Describing himself as a "very attacking full-back" who puts "100 per cent into every challenge", the Osnabrück native – who could still pledge his international future to Nigeria – is certainly a man to keep an eye on, even if he finds himself back in Bundesliga 2 next season.
Current club: Standard Liege
New club: Mainz
After a whopping 17 years with Standard Liege, Belgian centre-back Dimitri Lavalee will be joining Mainz on a free transfer this summer. The 23-year-old has been with Les Rouches since 2003, and yet it wasn't until October 2019 that he made his first senior appearance for the club, in their 2-1 UEFA Europa League loss at Eintracht Frankfurt. Replacing the injured Zinho Vanheusden, Lavalee put in a spirited performance at the Commerzbank-Arena, and was voted Man of the Match by Standard fans despite their team's narrow defeat.
Notwithstanding a season on loan at Dutch second division side MVV Maastricht in 2018/19, Lavalee has spent the majority of his career waiting in the wings at Standard. A spate of defensive absences in late 2019 gave the club youth product a chance to show what he was capable of, and he seized it with both hands. In just eight appearances, he did enough to convince Mainz that he was worth bringing to the Bundesliga in 2020/21.
The news of Lavalee's imminent departure came as a blow to Standard, who had hoped to convince their homegrown talent to extend his contract. An elegant ball-playing centre-back with impressive pace and a robust physique, the Belgian has clear potential – although with only 40 senior appearances under his belt, he is clearly some way off the finished article. In that respect, his decision to join the 05ers makes sense – for what better place is there for hot young prospects to flourish than the Bundesliga?