Andre Silva and Donyell Malen up front, with Marcel Sabitzer running the midfield in a team underpinned by Dayot Upamecano? bundesliga.com has produced a top starting XI from the many movers and shakers ahead of the new season…
Kobel isn't the first or even the second Swiss goalkeeper on Dortmund's books, but he may well be the best. While compatriots Roman Bürki and Marwin Hitz shared playing time at the Signal Iduna Park last season, ever-present Kobel was back-stopping promoted VfB Stuttgart's ninth-placed finish. An imposing 6'4" tall, Kobel started 33 of a possible 34 games for the Swabians whilst making 110 saves - more than any other goalkeeper in the top half of the table. With a surer defence ahead of him, the former Hoffenheim and Augsburg man will hope his goalkeeping heroics result in more than the six clean sheets he earned in 2020/21.
One of the major winners at Euro 2020, Widmer impressed so much on the right for Switzerland. Hardly a blade of grass went untouched by Widmer's boots, notably in the last-16 win over France. After three seasons with Basel, he will now go on the rampage for Mainz, whose Swiss sporting director Martin Schmidt is convinced he's landed a star. "With his experience and reputation as the best right full-back in Switzerland right now, Widmer's a huge win for us, not just as a footballer but as a person," Schmidt said. "He was the positive surprise of this Euro for Switzerland." With nine goals and 17 assists in 117 games for Basel, his attacking contribution was considerable.
Leipzig lost French central-defensive stalwarts Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate to Bayern Munich and Liverpool respectively over the summer, but their solution was quite simple: go and buy another one! Simakan's elder brother Ismael Bangoura - formerly a UEFA Champions League striker with Dynamo Kyiv - has previously likened the 21-year-old France youth international to Lilian Thuram. Simakan, who has joined from Strasbourg, may have some way to go before matching France's record appearance-maker, but if he can start by filling the boots of Upamecano and Konate, Leipzig will be happy.
Watch: Upamecano, the perfect signing for Bayern
Upamecano will take some replacing, however. A year older than Simakan, he is already a full international for the world champions, and has made the same journey as coach Julian Nagelsmann in swapping Leipzig for Bayern ahead of the 2021/22 campaign. Upamecano may be a hulking physical presence whose turn of pace used to frustrate the jet-heeled Timo Werner in Leipzig training, but his work with the ball is arguably more impressive. Last season, Upamecano averaged 94 touches per game - fifth league-wide - and completed 91 percent of his passes.
A product of Ajax's famous academy, left-back Mitchel Bakker moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 without kicking a ball in the Dutch Eredivisie. After a season to settle into his new surroundings, he became a regular in the French Ligue 1 side under former Mainz and Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel prior to Mauricio Pochettino's arrival in the French capital. The Dutch U21 international is looking to kick-start his career in Leverkusen. A left-back who likes to get forward, Bakker also has the height to help out in a more central position and he's already contributed a goal and an assist across his first three league outings for Leverkusen.
Watch: Owo met Boateng in 2018
Some of the most spectacular goals of the past decade in Europe have been scored by Boateng, who has returned home for the twilight of his career. It is no surprise that Barcelona are listed among his former clubs, such is the level of talent that the Berlin-born midfielder boasts, and after an unsuccessful bid to lift Monza – owned by former AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi, with whom Boateng won a Scudetto – into Italy's Serie A, he has chosen to return to his roots to play out the final few years of a career which has been nothing short of spectacular.
Position: Central midfielder
Country: Austria (54 caps/8 goals)
From: RB Leipzig
To: Bayern Munich
The Leipzig captain follows both Nagelsmann and Upamecano from Saxony to Bavaria, as the reigning champions bolstered their ranks even further on the penultimate day of the summer transfer window. Sabitzer - Leipzig's second-highest appearance maker alongside Peter Gulacsi and third-highest goalscorer in the club's history - adds even more quality to a midfield that already contains the likes of Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich. The 27-year-old brings with him 145 Bundesliga appearances, as well as 32 top flight goals and 27 assists, which immediately makes the record Bundesliga winners an even more potent looking side in 2021/22.
Watch: Sabitzer's thunderbolt wins February 2020/21 Goal of the Month
Norway international Hauge arrived on the left-wing of Die Adler from Italian giants Milan, hoping to help Frankfurt soar. "My goal is to contribute a lot of goals and assists," said the 21-year-old after completing the season long loan deal. And he's done just that so far, making a stunning start to life in the commercial capital. On as a second half substitute on Matchday 1, Hauge found the back of the net in his side's 5-2 defeat to Dortmund and has two goals in three appearances after again scoring in his new team's 1-1 draw with Arminia Bielefeld on Matchday 3.
Country: Netherlands (13 caps/2 goals)
From: PSV Eindhoven
To: Borussia Dortmund
A 2017/18 Dutch champion, Malen will now be hoping to add the German title to his collection as Dortmund look to end Bayern's nine-year grip on the Meisterchale. With 19 goals and eight assists from 32 appearances in the Eredivisie, Malen - who was previously in the youth academies of both Ajax and Arsenal - has been recruited to replace the contributions of Jadon Sancho and the 22-year-old is looking forward to taking his game to the next level at the Signal Iduna Park. He said: "Dortmund is a top European club that's always at the top of the Bundesliga and has high demands on itself in the Champions League. I can hardly wait to be on the pitch with my new teammates, to be able to measure myself against the best."
Erling Haaland may now be a household name, but Dortmund's Norwegian goal-machine was actually outscored by Silva last season, the Portugal international bagging one more goal for Frankfurt (28) than Haaland did for BVB (27). Now at Leipzig, Silva hopes to push on from last season and be the long-term successor to Timo Werner, who left for Champions League winners Chelsea in the summer of 2020. "You should never set any limits and you should always try to do your best and achieve the best possible, and I don't want to set any limits when it comes to objectives," said Silva in words which will sound as a warning to defenders everywhere.
Watch: Silva's Bundesliga mixtape
Having scored in the English, French, Italian, Serbian and Spanish top-flights previously, Jovetic has already added Germany to the list, after scoring a sixth-minute opener in the capital club's eventual 3-1 defeat at Cologne on Matchday 1. Jovetic brings with him a wealth of experience at the pointy end of the Hertha attack, which was crucial to the Old Lady's recruitment team this summer. As sporting director Fredi Bobic explained: "Stevan is a classic centre-forward, who has bags of experience in Europe’s top leagues. He’s scored goals in the Premier League, Serie A, Ligue 1 and La Liga. His footballing qualities, plus his personality will help us immediately."