Bundesliga clubs have done some smart shopping in the summer transfer window. Achraf Hakimi, Josh Sargent, Paulinho, Marcelo Saracchi and Alassane Plea lead the wave of new faces, each poised to make a big impact in 2018/19...
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Arriving from: Real Madrid
The last time Real Madrid loaned out a homegrown right-back to the Bundesliga, we were treated to the rise of Dani Carvajal at Bayer Leverkusen. Hakimi will be looking to match the exploits of his fellow La Fabrica graduate during a planned two-year stint at Dortmund, where he will compete for a starting spot with the evergreen Lukasz Piszczek and Germany U21 international Jeremy Toljan. It will be more than entertaining to see the Morocco international test his mettle in that context.
Lucien Favre’s first season in charge at Dortmund promises to be an electric affair and Hakimi’s flashes of brilliance when given first-team minutes at the Bernabeu indicate that the 19-year-old is made of the right stuff. He’s a very attack-minded full-back with a taste for one-two passes that set him up to explode into gaps and run the length of the pitch looking for a deadly cross or a chance to score himself. Standing tall at 5’11”, he’s also no pushover in the air.
He’s an exciting prospect which Favre could shape into world class full-back at the Signal Iduna Park.
Club: Werder Bremen
Arriving from: Werder Bremen U23
Christian Pulisic’s ascension into the elite of world football in the Bundesliga has turned into a beacon of sorts for young American talent. Sargent is the latest wonderkid born in the USA to make his way to Germany in search of an environment that allows him to grow into a star. The teenager recently made his senior debut for his country and could become a key component of the squad that will play the 2026 World Cup on home soil. He’s scored on debut for both club and country this year, so making the most of his chances doesn’t seem to be a problem for the O’Fallon, Missouri, native.
Competition for minutes as a striker will be fierce at Bremen this year so Sargent will have to work hard for chances and make the most of them when they come.
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Arriving from: Vasco da Gama
The 2018 summer transfer window has seen some of the most exciting young Brazilian prospects make their way across the Atlantic to join the European elite. With Arthur headed for Barcelona and Vinicius Junior for Real Madrid, Leverkusen have pulled a coup of equal magnitude by importing Paulinho. Die Werkself are known for their scouting prowess, especially when it comes to the South American market with the likes of Ze Roberto, Lucio and Emerson all making a name for themselves in Europe at the BayArena. The most exciting chapter in Leverkusen and Brazil’s history of joint success could be written from this season and onwards.
There’s no immediate pressure for the young winger to achieve his maximum potential and coach Heiko Herrlich will likely ease him into the fold to learn from more experienced teammates. If he manages to adapt quickly and bring to the Bundesliga some of the exciting football displayed at youth level for his country and with Vasco in the Brasileirao, Leon Bailey and Julian Brandt will need to be on their toes. Leverkusen enjoyed a tactical rebirth last season that saw them clinch a UEFA Europa League birth, but they are a club with Champions League pedigree and returning to the big stage is their main priority.
Paulinho might prove to be the missing ingredient in their quest to break the top four once again.
Club: RB Leipzig
Arriving from: River Plate
Over the last couple of years, especially at the World Cup, we’ve been treated to the rebirth of La Garra Charrúa, the Uruguayan “claw”, an ethos of tenacity and hard work on the pitch that has always been present in the South American nation’s footballing DNA. Leipzig have decided to bring some of that to the Bundesliga in the shape of left-back Marcelo Saracchi. A product of Danubio FC’s academy, just like Uruguay legend Alvaro Recoba, the young defender has already accumulated three full seasons of first division football in two of the toughest South American leagues.
He was impressive enough with his boyhood club between 2015 and 2017 to prompt a move to Argentinian giants River Plate, where he was the undisputed starter at left-back for Los Millonarios before catching Leipzig’s eye. Saracchi also brings continental experience, having topped his group with River in the still-ongoing 2018 Copa Libertadores. Leipzig had a tough time balancing domestic and international duties last season, so a seasoned player used to juggling three competitions in a team that’s a constant challenger on all fronts is a welcome addition.
Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Arriving from: Nice
In Plea, Gladbach made one of the most intelligent buys of the transfer market. The departure of Raul Bobadilla freed up a forward slot in the squad and the Foals decided to call upon a player with a little more gunpowder in his boots than the departing Paraguayan. Plea is a seasoned pro who has consistently shared scoring duties with Mario Balotelli at Nice over the last couple of seasons in Ligue 1. A reliable alternative to Raffael and Lars Stindl was exactly what they were missing last season as the club coupled moments of brilliance like defeating Bayern Munich with inconsistent showings.
After missing out on a Europa League birth by six points last season, Plea could fire the Foals back into European competitions next season.