Berlin - Adrian Ramos leaves Hertha Berlin this summer having scored 16 goals for the club in the Bundesliga last season. Losing such firepower would be a setback for anybody, but could the Colombian's departure actually be a blessing in disguise for the Old Lady?
Ramos had a hand in more than half (55 per cent) of all of Berlin's goals last season – 40. If that proves anything, then it is that the onus was placed on the to deliver. With just 13 goals in the entire second half of the season, Hertha's attack had clearly become too decipherable.
That should no longer be the case. Replacing the one man opponents developed a knack of taming, Hertha have landed four new faces to keep their rivals guessing. , for one, is returning from Hamburger SV, much to the appreciation of general manager Michael Preetz. "We're planning with him and don’t intend losing another top striker after Ramos," he said to the Bild newspaper. "Pierre's our number 9."
Lasogga netted 13 goals in 20 games for HSV, practically single-handedly saving them from the drop, and he is a player of Ramos' ilk, although not entirely. Ramos touched the ball more frequently and provided six assists whereas Lasogga, who spent a long time sidelined through injury, was more of a finisher. He needed just 53 minutes on average per goal, taking a greater percentage of big chances (72 per cent) than Ramos (32 per cent).
Haraguchi 'like Reus'
It will come as no surprise, then, to know that Lasogga's stock has risen. "Hertha have not received an enquiry, let alone an offer for Lasogga," added Preetz, who hopes things stay that way. So too do the Hertha fans as they face up to the tasty prospect of seeing Lasogga line up in front of new arrival Valentin Stocker, who comes backed by an impressive record of 40 goals in 155 games in the Swiss Super League, as well as 27 assists in the past two seasons.
And then there is the little known Genki Haraguchi, who found the back of the net 33 times in 162 Japanese J-League outings for Urawa Red Diamonds. Their former coach Guido Buchwald had this to say of the 23-year-old: "His preferred position is on the left wing. He likes to cut in from there and usually take a shot with his strong right foot. He's a bit like [Marco] Reus."
Hegeler the all-rounder
That leaves one more piece in the puzzle, which is Bayer 04 Leverkusen's Jens Hegeler. The all-rounder is at home both in an attacking and defensive position, as coach Jos Luhukay explained: "Jens is a multi-functional player who started off as a central defender and then right full-back with Augsburg before moving into the midfield."
Seven goals in 113 Bundesliga games suggest that Hegeler's best role is as a marauding full-back with Marvin Plattenhardt coming from 1. FC Nürnberg to strengthen the defence. "It's important for us that Jens plays in a variety of positions, and makes us better." The latter is the remit of all the new recruits, to soften the blow in losing Ramos and spread the goalscoring responsibility more evenly in 2014/15.
Christoph Gschoßmann / Ben Gladwell