Cologne - An off-season of sweating in the gym is paying dividends for VfL Wolfsburg striker Nicklas Bendtner, who is starting to show his true potential this term.
When VfL Wolfsburg signed Nicklas Bendtner from Arsenal in August 2014 there were more than a few eyebrows raised at what was in all likelihood the most unexpected transfer of the summer.
After all, the 68-time Denmark international was known more for his off-field charisma and bright pink boots than his goalscoring record in London, and loan spells at Birmingham City, Sunderland and Juventus had also proven to be false dawns.
Yet Wolves coach Dieter Hecking and sporting director Klaus Allofs had evidently seen something they liked in the striker dubbed “Lord” by his ever-growing band of cult followers on social media, and handed him a three-year contract at the Volkswagen Arena.
Adjusting to life in the Bundesliga is a tough task at the best of times, and with Ivica Olic and Bas Dost ahead of him in the pecking order for the lone-striker’s role in Hecking’s preferred 4-2-3-1 line-up, Bendtner did not play as often as he would have liked in 2014/15.
Reaping the reward
So far in 2015/16 it appears his efforts are paying off. At the start of August Bendtner came off the bench in the German Supercup against FC Bayern München to score a superb goal in the 89th minute to equalise at 1-1, before converting the Wolves’ final penalty in the shootout, which they won 5-4.
It is perhaps that knack of being in the right place at the right time, of unsettling defenders with his towering presence – Bendtner stands at 1.94 metres tall – and his air of unpredictability that attracted Wolfsburg to him in the first place, and on the early evidence this season his true colours are starting to show.