Karim Rekik, Fabian Lustenberger, Jordan Torunarigha and Niklas Stark (from left) are all candidates to step in at centre-back in 2017/18. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
Karim Rekik, Fabian Lustenberger, Jordan Torunarigha and Niklas Stark (from left) are all candidates to step in at centre-back in 2017/18. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

Who will replace John Brooks at Hertha Berlin?

John Brooks' departure to Wolfsburg this summer has left Hertha Berlin with a huge hole to fill at centre-back. So what are their options for replacing the USA international?

Mr. Reliable: Niklas Stark

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In Niklas Stark, Jordan Torunarigha and Fabian Lustenberger, three possible contenders were already at the club, while a fourth – Karim Rekik – recently signed from Olympique Marseille. We take a closer look at the quartet…

The 22-year-old is the kind of player who rarely grabs headlines on the pitch but whose presence is sorely missed when they are not in the side. Considered one of Germany's most promising young talents, Stark is currently on international duty at the U-21 European Championship in Poland, where he is expected to start in central defence.

Watch: Check out Stark's heading ability in scoring in a 2-1 win over Cologne on Matchday 8

The youngster: Jordan Torunarigha

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Despite his youth, the 1.90 metre defensive specialist already has a wealth of experience thanks to his 72 Bundesliga outings and 30 appearances in the Bundesliga 2, having made his top-flight debut for Nuremberg as an 18-year-old. Although he primarily played in defensive midfield for Hertha in 2016/17, Stark's composure on the ball, positioning ability and overall prowess in one-on-one situations make him a prime candidate to fill the Brooks void.

The youngest and most inexperienced of the quartet, the 19-year-old has only been a part of Hertha's first team squad since December 2016, and played the first of his eight Bundesliga games to date in a 1-0 victory over Ingolstadt in February this year. Injuries to key players forced coach Pal Dardai's hand towards the end of the 2016/17 campaign, with Torunarigha playing five games from start to finish, and even scoring his maiden Bundesliga goal against Darmstadt on Matchday 33.

Watch: Torunarigha is a candidate in the Bundesliga Rookie of the Season vote

The veteran: Fabian Lustenberger

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A natural left-footer, Torunarigha is nominated for the Bundesliga Rookie of the Season award and is blessed with enviable pace, is strong in the tackle and is exceptional in the air. He also has a youthful fearlessness and a bold attitude that has stood him in good stead so far. And while by his own admission the Chemnitz native still "has a great deal to learn", he will only improve by having a prolonged run in the side. With Hertha playing in European competition this term he is likely to get his chance, although more experienced team-mates are likely to be above him in the pecking order at this stage.

Lustenberger is part of the furniture at Hertha, having made 168 Bundesliga appearances (and 51 in the Bundesliga 2) for the club over the past decade. The 29-year-old is not the most vocal of players and prefers to let his performances do the taking. Never afraid to work up a sweat or add miles to his odometer, Lustenberger rarely gives away possession, is a powerful tackler and is a solid, dependable member of Dardai's squad.

Fabian Lustenberger (l.) can be relied upon to do a job wherever coach Pal Dardai opts to play him. - © gettyimages / Matthias Kern

The newcomer: Karim Rekik

Indeed, Lustenberger has always managed to be a first-team regular under each of the ten head coaches he has had during his time at Hertha. Like Stark, he is equally comfortable in central defence and further forward in defensive midfield.

Rekik was ostensibly signed as Brooks' successor, although at this stage he is an unknown quantity in the Hertha camp due to his lack of Bundesliga experience. Nevertheless, there is no doubting that he has the quality to succeed. The 22-year-old played 54 Eredivise games for PSV Eindhoven and 34 in Ligue 1 for Marseille before moving to the German capital, while he has also had 15 outings in the UEFA Europa League.

Although he is not the quickest, Rekik is no-nonsense tackler with a good aerial game, and the Dutchman is a defender in the Mats Hummels mold given his ability to initiate attacks with his vision and passing from the back. Much will depend on how quickly he can settle at the Olympiastadion, but he is likely to be given the opportunity to prove his worth early on.

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