Back in the Bundesliga after a one-season absence, SC Freiburg will be chomping at the bit to taste the Bundesliga air again when the new season commences on 26 August.
bundesliga.com shines the spotlight on five players that could shape the Breisgau club’s 2016/17 campaign…
Vincenzo Grifo – 23, midfielder
Italian midfielder Vincenzo Grifo came second on German football magazine kicker’s list of the standout players in Bundesliga 2 last season, and it is not hard to see why. The 23-year-old’s statistics were quite remarkable: 14 goals and 14 assists in 31 appearances, including some truly spectacular free-kicks and long-range efforts. Grifo struggled somewhat during his first and only spell in the top flight (he made 11 appearances for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in 2012/13) and will therefore be keen to showcase his stunning abilities in the Bundesliga once again.
Nils Petersen – 27, striker
A model professional who nailed his colours to the Freiburg mast by signing a permanent contract just days after their relegation in May 2015, Nils Petersen’s talismanic form was one of the single biggest factors in Freiburg’s promotion. The former FC Bayern München man scored 21 goals and provided four assists last term, becoming a hero among the fans and resurrecting his career after a barren spell at SV Werder Bremen. Like Grifo, he will also feel he has unfinished business in the top flight.
Florian Niederlechner – 25, striker
He has been highly prolific in Bundesliga 2 for Freiburg and previous club 1. FC Heidenheim, but the jury is still out on Florian Niederlechner after his rather unremarkable six-month stint at 1. FC Mainz 05. The Bavarian struggled to settle at Mainz upon arriving in summer 2015 but to his credit, went on loan to Freiburg and rediscovered his form to net eight goals in 14 matches at the back end of 2015/16. On loan at the Schwarzwald-Stadion until next summer, now comes Niederlechner’s chance to really make his mark on the Bundesliga and prove his quality to his parent club and others.
Onur Bulut – 22, midfielder
A key part of an improving VfL Bochum side in the last few seasons, Onur Bulut made 31 appearances for the Ruhrpott outfit in Bundesliga 2 last term, scoring four goals, laying on a further five and cementing his reputation as a reliable and hard-working midfielder. Freiburg are also only too aware of his class – he scored and assisted in a 3-1 victory over his new club last August – and both club and player will be eager to see how he adapts to life in the Bundesliga.