Cologne - Hannover 96’s renovation project continues to take shape with the signing of Germany Under-21 international attacker Felix Klaus from relegated SC Freiburg.
The 22-year-old already has 52 Bundesliga appearances under his belt and might just be the ideal long-term candidate to take up the baton from departed relegation saviour Lars Stindl.
‘He’s got the qualities’
“Despite a range of offers from elsewhere, we’re delighted that he chose to join us,” said Hannover sporting director Dirk Dufner following confirmation of the Osnabrück native’s move on 29 June 2015. “We pointed out to him in our talks that he will be an integral part of a young side. He’s got the qualities to make us a better team.”
With Stindl now plying his trade for Borussia Mönchengladbach and French midfielder Jimmy Briand having been released, Klaus' attributes - versatility, pace and creativity - are exactly what the Reds will need if they’re to avoid becoming embroiled in another relegation dogfight a la 2014/15 (they beat the drop thanks to a final day win over Freiburg).
The deal is obviously another blow to Freiburg’s hopes of making an immediate return to the Bundesliga after losing fellow first-team assets Roman Bürki, Oliver Sorg and Admir Mehmedi in the summer transfer market, but the prospect of helping the Reds realise their ambitions of one day returning to the European circuit must have figured in Klaus’ decision to leave the south-west club behind.
That said, doing so can’t have been easy. After enjoying success as part of SpVgg Greuther Fürth’s promotion-winning class of 2012, it wasn’t all that long before he had nailed down a starting berth at Freiburg. His debut season in Breisgauer colours yielded 21 top-flight appearances and his last saw him miss just three league games owing to injury and suspension.
Bags of potential
Klaus nevertheless still has ample room for improvement given his modest return of seven Bundesliga goals and as many assists for the last two campaigns. Featuring at this summer’s UEFA Under-21 European Championships can only have helped in that regard, but Klaus could still benefit from a similar level of TLC to that which he received under Christian Streich at Freiburg if he’s to reach the next level.
Judging by Hannover head coach Michael Frontzeck’s willingness to grant his new recruit an extra two weeks off, that is exactly what he’s going to get. “He needs time to recover,” the 51-year-old said. “He’ll join up with us for first-team training on 16 July.” It’ll be worth the wait.