Jadon Sancho returning to Borussia Dortmund, Borja Iglesias arriving at Bayer Leverkusen, and Eric Dier and Sacha Boey bolstering Bayern Munich’s defence are just some of the more eye-catching Bundesliga winter transfers in 2024.
bundesliga.com examines who else makes it into a best XI…
Sancho wasn’t the only player going back to where it all began. Luthe came through the youth ranks at Bochum and was on the club’s books for 15 years between 2001 and 2016. Now 36, the goalkeeper had subsequent spells at Augsburg, Union Berlin and Kaiserslautern before returning. “After Michael Esser’s injury we needed an experienced goalkeeper who could reliably meet the standards in training and matches alongside Manuel Riemann and Niclas Thiede,” said sporting director Marc Lettau. “Andreas fits the bill, knows the club and can help us right away.”
Bayern’s hand was also forced to a certain extent, with right-back Noussair Mazraoui (Africa Cup of Nations duty) and his replacement Konrad Laimer (injury) both unavailable. As a result, Thomas Tuchel and his staff set their sights on French full-back Boey, who has impressed at Galatasaray in recent years, including against the Bundesliga champions in two UEFA Champions League meetings this season. “Sacha is a very quick and physically strong right-back, who covers a lot of ground in every game and doesn’t shy away from any tackles,” said sporting director Christoph Freund. “He will increase our quality in defence.”
Watch: Sacha Boey joins Bayern Munich
Eric Dier (Bayern)
Minjae Kim’s absence at the AFC Asian Cup with South Korea left a hole at centre-back for Bayern, so when Dayot Upamecano was sidelined with a hamstring complaint as well, it left the defending champions short in defence. Handily, Harry Kane’s former Tottenham Hotspur teammate was available, and the England striker’s presence in the dressing room no doubt added to the appeal for Dier. “I want to help the team with my versatility in defence,” said the 30-year-old at his unveiling. Music to Tuchel’s ears.
Watch: Bundesliga, made in Britain
Signed as cover for left-back Ramy Bensebaini, who was at the Africa Cup of Nations, Maatsen immediately showed why Edin Terzić was so keen to bring him in on loan from Chelsea with an assured attacking display on his debut against Darmstadt on Matchday 17. He followed that up with a brilliant assist for fellow Dutchman Donyell Malen in Cologne on Matchday 18. Still just 21, Maatsen is very much one for the present and the future, and knows he’s at the right club to prove himself.
Watch: Maatsen and Dortmund's new-look attack
Jadon Sancho (Dortmund)
A player that needs no introduction. Having sparkled as a teenager at Dortmund, there was huge excitement at his return to the club on loan from Manchester United. The hype has already been justified, with the 23-year-old providing an assist for Marco Reus on his first game back, and winning a penalty in his second. Unplayable at his best, the sky is the limit for Dortmund in the second half of the season with Sancho.
Watch: Jadon Sancho - My story
Another Manchester United loanee, the Dutchman has started all three Bundesliga games for Frankfurt since arriving in Germany at the start of the year. A lack of playing time in previous months means he is yet to complete the full 90 minutes as he works up to full fitness, but head coach Dino Toppmöller is a fan of the 26-year-old’s creativity and movement in attacking midfield, which saw him produce 41 goals and 34 assists across 175 competitive appearances with Ajax, where Van de Beek made his name.
Leipzig just wouldn’t be Leipzig if they weren’t able to identify, attract and sign one of the game’s most gifted young attackers. The 24-year-old signed a long-term deal upon his arrival from Napoli and big things are expected of the North Macedonia international. “Eljif’s technical ability is amazing,” said sporting director Rouven Schröder. “He’s nimble, loves to run and dribble, and can score goals. He can play down the middle, but is equally comfortable on both wings. He’ll bring something different to our game with his skills, since he’s very good at beating his man thanks to his acceleration and physicality. He always looks to get the ball forward.” His three substitute appearances so far will no doubt turn into regular starts sooner rather than later.
Bryan Zaragoza (Bayern)
Bayern had already announced back in 2023 that had reached an agreement to bring Zaragoza to the Allianz Arena in summer 2024. However, mounting injuries prompted the need to react, so they brought forward the move, initially on loan before becoming a full transfer as planned in July. The 22-year-old Spain international forward arrives from Spanish outfit Granada, whom he helped to promotion last season and caught the eye with a brace in a 2-2 draw with Barcelona in October 2023. “He’s a proper one-v-one player, who loves to dribble, is very quick, mobile, always created chances,” said sporting director Freund of the player who ranked in Europe’s top 10 for successful dribbles prior to the winter break, alongside the likes of new teammate Leroy Sané.
Watch: Bayern unveil Bryan Zaragoza
Leverkusen are serious title contenders this season for the first time in years, so when star striker Victor Boniface was ruled out until April with injury, head coach Xabi Alonso had to react, especially as back-up forward Patrik Schick is still feeling his way back to form and fitness after a lengthy injury lay-off of his own. Arriving on loan from Real Betis, the Spain international, who has scored 56 goals and provided 10 assists in 180 La Liga games, should be the sharp end of the Leverkusen stick as they look to get their hands on the Meisterschale.
Saša Kalajdžić (Frankfurt)
With 24 goals in 60 games for VfB Stuttgart – including an impressive 16 from 33 appearances in 2020/21 – there is no doubting Kalajdžić’s Bundesliga pedigree. A cruciate ligament injury hampered his progress at Wolverhampton Wanderers, so a loan spell at Frankfurt could be just the ticket for both player and club. The 26-year-old has started all three league games for the Eagles following his arrival, and although he is yet to find the net, the Bundesliga’s tallest player – offering a different sort of option in attack – is the kind of striker to go on a roll once things click.
Watch: Kalajdžić's best Bundesliga skills and goals
Hugo Ekitiké (Frankfurt)
Frankfurt have emerged from January’s window looking in seriously good shape after their business of once again dipping into the young French market. Following 18-year-old Jean-Mattéo Bahoya’s arrival from Angers, Eintracht snapped up Ekitiké from Paris Saint-Germain on loan with an option to buy on deadline day. The 21-year-old had spent 2022/23 on loan at PSG from boyhood club Reims but fell out of favour this year after a permanent move, opening the door for the Eagles to swoop for one of French football’s most exciting prospects. “Hugo is a young player who’s already proven his great potential,” said Frankfurt managing director Markus Krösche. “We were already convinced of him in the summer and didn’t discard the thought. We’ll obviously give him the time he needs to settle.” Given the way compatriots Randal Kolo Muani and Niels Nkounkou have hit the ground running at Eintracht in recent years, that may not take long.
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