Nicolai Müller can expect to play a leading role for Mainz 05 in the new campaign
Nicolai Müller can expect to play a leading role for Mainz 05 in the new campaign

Mainz looking to pen goal-filled chapter in 2013/14

Munich - Life after Adam Szalai starts here for 1. FSV Mainz 05. The departed Hungarian top scored last season, but if the 05ers' pre-season exploits are anything to go by, head coach Thomas Tuchel need not have any concerns on the goals front in 2013/14.

Change of scenery

"Adam's transfer gives us the opportunity to bring the next bunch of players along," said Mainz sporting director Christian Heidel, referring to, among others, new recruits Dani Schahin, Sebastian Polter and Shinji Okazaki.

Mainz's newfound strike trio were restricted to bit-part roles at their former clubs, but a combined tally of 14 goals, more often than not from the bench, was enough to convince the Rhineland-Palatinate club to make their move. "Okazaki didn't have the best season," Heidel continued. "We want him to rediscover his form. We see him as a striker. He's excelled in that position for Japan."

So how can Tuchel best accommodate his summer signings? With Szalai moving to FC Schalke 04, that frees up at least one starting berth, depending on the Mainz tactician's formation of choice. Okazaki appears to be the primary candidate to fill the Szalai-shaped void, but Tuchel also has plenty of alternatives.

Strike options

Shawn Parker has proven himself to be a competent No9, while Polter and Schahin provide further food for thought in the striker stakes. Polter put in an average 35 challenges per Bundesliga game last term, while Schahin chipped in with a mean 33 of his own.

And then there's attacking all-rounder Nicolai Müller - Mainz's second highest Bundesliga scorer last term (eight). The two-time Germany international has continued his fine work in the interim, joining the aforementioned goalgetters on the summer scoresheet in comfortable wins over FC Groningen, West Ham United FC and SC Bastia.

Not even trailing Swiss champions FC Basel 1893 could spoil the pre-season party. Yet it wasn't Polter, Schahin or even Müller who preserved the 05ers' unbeaten run, but rather long-forgotten forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. The Cameroonian hitman threw his name into the 2013/14 hat with a clinical hat-trick in an entertaining 3-3 draw, leaving Tuchel with quite an attacking quandary going into the new campaign.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge