With the Bundesliga’s winter transfer business done and dusted, there's plenty of inspiration to be had on your Football Manager 2021 saves from the moves made by the likes of Luka Jovic, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Sami Khedira and Chris Richards.
Whether you’re looking gleefully towards the game’s upcoming update in search of a new challenge, or just in need of a bit of real-world inspiration in the FM21 transfer market, these signings in Germany’s top-flight are a great place to start.
It’s hard to believe Jovic is still only 23-years-old; his a name that’s been on the scouting shortlists of Football Managers for years now. Jovic has already fulfilled his enormous in-game potential for virtual coaches the world over, and the Serbia international is coming good on his remarkable promise in real life, too. A scan of Jovic’s history shows why his initial two-year spell in Frankfurt led Real Madrid to spend heavily on bringing him to the Bernabeu last summer, on the back of a 2018/19 Bundesliga campaign that saw him hit 17 goals in 32 games.
Watch: Luka Jovic scores brace on first game back at Frankfurt
His start to life back with Die Adler has been a strong one after bagging three goals in his first five matches - all of which have been as a substitute - including a match-winning double on his second debut for the club. One glance at his FM21 attributes suggests his impact in your team would be just as instant, with his Finishing (16) and Off the Ball (18) in that glorious shade of green and his Heading, Pace, Bravery and Composure all hovering around the 15 mark.
Another attacking hero returning to a former club in a time of need – Huntelaar’s move back to Schalke is the type of Football Manager fairytale that appeals to every player that flies through days one spacebar at a time. The Dutch poacher may not be expected to recreate his 29-goal heroics of the 2011/12 Bundesliga campaign but he still has the ability to make a major impact in your team.
A natural No.9, Huntelaar has outstanding Finishing (18), Heading (16) and Penalty Taking (17), while the 37-year-old’s mental attributes prove that anything he lacks in the pace department, he more than makes up for with his speed of thought. Huntelaar’s Anticipation (18), Composure, Concentration, Determination and Off the Ball (all 17) will see him still gain a yard on his marker and put himself in the right place at the right time to bury important goals for your team. Another major asset that drew Christian Gross into bringing Huntelaar to the Veltins Arena for a second time was his Leadership (15), which would be an asset in any dressing room.
Yet another player who used this January window to return to the Bundesliga is FIFA World Cup-winner Khedira. The former Stuttgart man is back, this time with Hertha Berlin, to provide some midfield steel as well as a wealth of experience. Khedira has won pretty much everything there is to win in the game, including the 2006/07 Meisterschale with VfB, and has returned to his homeland to provide a similarly rejuvenating presence in the capital as Huntelaar in Gelsenkirchen.
Watch: Khedira: "It's amazing to be back in the Bundesliga"
Khedira’s is a calm head for the base of any midfield and he is mentally one of the best players in the game. He has nine 16+ ratings for nine of the 15 mental attributes; a perfect 20 for Teamwork, 17 Off the Ball, 18s for Concentration, Decisions and Positioning, as well as Anticipation, Bravery, Composure, Determination all rated 16 out of 20. He’s still technically gifted, too, with Heading (16), Marking (15), First Touch and Passing (both 15) all meaning he’s more than capable of playing as either an anchor man or deep-lying playmaker.
There have also been new faces, and this one is something of a Wunderkind. Last January it was FM favourite Erling Haaland swapping Salzburg for Borussia Dortmund, and this winter saw another exceptional young performer that FM players know very well can make a seamless switch from Austria to Germany. Szoboszlai is a creative midfielder most comfortable dictating play in the middle of the park, but also able to operate out wide, more often on the left. Either way, his four-and-a-half star potential should excite any manager who gets their hands on the 20-year-old.
Szboboszlai’s Long Shots (12) may appear a little undercooked but his threat from dead ball situations - Free Kick Taking and Corners (15) - quickly clear that up, and his rockets will look impressive in both 2D and 3D match engines. For a player who stands at 6’1”, Szboboszlai has the Pace (17) and Acceleration (15) of a tricky winger, as well as all the guile of either an ‘8’ or a ‘10’ in midfield. Both are evident in his player traits, which include some FM favourites such as; Tries killer balls often, Tries tricks and Tries long range passes.
The young American arrived in the Bundesliga from Major League Soccer in 2018 and has progressed nicely through the Bayern ranks since. Richards made his senior debut for the champions at the back end of last season and made three 2020/21 top-flight appearances, as well as a further trio of UEFA Champions League outings for Hansi Flick’s side before joining TSG on loan. He also became a full USMNT international in November last year, and it’s unsurprising that his impressive rise has been reflected in football’s fortune-telling computer game.
Watch: Richards and the Bayern-Dallas connection
Richards has arrived at Hoffenheim with the aim of developing further with regular matches at the highest level and the FM21 version of the 20-year-old reflects the same. He’s already a steady right-back in the game, while his Positioning (14) and First Touch (13) show why Richards’ future looks to be as a ball-playing centre-half. He slotted into a central back-three to last the full 90 minutes of his Hoffenheim debut on Matchday 20, and you should also get the best out of him in the Football Manager long-run by deploying the American at centre-back.
After three years in England, Meyer is the fourth player on this list returning to the German top flight after a spell away. The creative midfielder couldn’t quite find consistency in the Premier League and his stay in England unfortunately contained a few spells out through injury. A UEFA U21 European Championship winner in 2017 and captain of the Germany team that won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games, Meyer is still only 25 with his best years ahead of him.
A natural playmaker from either central or attacking midfield, Meyer’s Agility (16), Technique and Vision (both 15), as well as First Touch and Passing (14) all stand out from a technical standpoint. The fact he also likes to Place shots, Play one-twos and Cut inside from both wings add further dimensions to his game, as does his ability to play all across the midfield. Just as Markus Gisdol hopes to prove in Cologne, Meyer still has plenty of potential to fulfil in the right environment, as highlighted by his FM21 Peak Potential Ability of 172.
The latest English talent to fly to the Bundesliga for the chance to shine, Gray is an exciting player itching for the opportunity to show what he’s truly capable of. Leverkusen will be hoping he does exactly that at the BayArena, and in the 24-year-old, Die Werkself have in their ranks a bit of a throwback to more traditional wingers; one natural on either side of the pitch and who has the desire to take on opposition full-backs at will.
Watch: Gray scores in big win on Leverkusen debut
Gray's Pace (16) underpins why he Knocks ball past opponents, while his Acceleration, Dribbling, Flair and Natural Fitness (15) will certainly put fear in your rivals. For real world evidence, just ask Stuttgart, against whom Gray found the back of the net on his 16-minute Bundesliga introduction as Leverkusen ran rampant on Matchday 20.
Position: D/WB (RL)
To: Bayer Leverkusen
Leverkusen were active in the January window, adding young talents Tim Fosu-Mensah, Gray and Frimpong to their squad from the UK. Former Manchester United man Fosu-Mensah is certainly another to keep an eye on, especially when you consider his versatility, but Frimpong, who signed from Scottish champions Celtic, just about edges his Dutch compatriot in this list. An attacking full-back, the 20-year-old former Manchester City academy player's Pace (17) and Acceleration (16) will instantly excite anyone who has the opportunity to let him loose in FM21.
Capable on the left, Frimpong prefers operating from the right but is a handy natural at both full-back and wing-back. This will aid coaches with a preference for either four-man defences or a three with wing-backs, and his inclusion in either will be an attacking statement of intent. Frimpong’s player traits underline this idea as he; Gets forward whenever possible, Knocks ball past opponent and Runs with ball down right. With room to develop into his Potential Ability (145), Frimpong’s youth and style should add a lot of fun to your team.