Leverkusen - With the deal to bring in Heung Min Son from Hamburger SV barely sealed and the imminent departure of Andre Schürrle to Chelsea FC, fans of Bayer 04 Leverkusen could be forgiven for having mixed emotions ahead of the 2013/14 campaign.
On the one hand they will be sad to see Schürrle go. The 22-year-old netted 18 Bundesliga goals and created many more in his two seasons with the club, thrilling the crowds with his electric pace and lethal shot. However, the arrival of Son, one of the game's most exciting young strikers, brings with it plenty of reason for optimism. bundesliga.com runs the rule over both attackers to see what the forthcoming season might have in store for the Werkself...
Son may not be a direct replacement for Schürrle, but you would be hard pushed to find a closer ‘like-for-like’ model. Both possess an enviable turn of pace, thrive on the counter-attack, enjoy cutting inside from wide positions and are not afraid to unleash a shot from distance.
Plenty of teams fell victim to the outbound Schürrle's trademark move, including FC Schalke 04 on Matchday 12 and 1899 Hoffenheim on Matchday 27. A stunning solo effort away at FC Augsburg also sticks in the mind, that particular screamer with his left foot. Schürrle also formed a menacing partnership alongside top scorer Stefan Kießling, and his six assists, as well as his ability to produce the spectacular, will be sorely missed.
Left or right?
Not that anyone at Leverkusen need have any concerns over the man signed to fill the Schürrle-shaped void. Son enjoyed his best Bundesliga season yet in 2012/13, scoring 12 times and helping Hamburg to a respectable seventh-placed finish. Playing in a counterattacking 4-3-3 formation - a system also favoured by Bayer coach Sami Hyypiä - he provided a deadly foil to lone striker Artjoms Rudnevs.
Free to roam either wing, Son's pace was a key component in Hamburg's attacking endeavours in many of their away games in 2012/13, as he demonstrated in Mainz on Matchday 29 and Hoffenheim on Matchday 33. Comfortable shooting with either foot, Son likewise has a tendency for eye-catching strikes, with his sumptuous curler away at Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 21, a fine example.
Experience as well as potential
Still only 20, Son has already made 70 Bundesliga appearances, scoring 20 times, giving him a ratio of 0.27 goals per game. He is also already an established international with South Korea and duly possesses the necessary experience to help him deliver on his undoubted potential.
However, having won just 20 per cent of his tackles in 2012/13, Son has room for improvement defensively, while he only provided one league assist - five less than Schürrle. In order to thrive under Hyypiä and as part of the Leverkusen collective, he will need to bolster both of those statistics next term.
With Sidney Sam, Karim Bellarabi and the incoming Robbie Kruse also vying for a first-team place, Son may not necessarily start 33 of 34 league games as he did for HSV in the recently ended season. Nevertheless, with Leverkusen set to compete on three fronts, he can be confident of a healthy amount of playing time and could well be the man to help relieve the goalscoring burden on Kießling.
Schürrle, who played that role last season and averaged 0.29 goals a game in his 138 Bundesliga appearances, will certainly be missed, but his forthcoming departure seems to be a loss for which Leverkusen can compensate, perhaps even with interest.