Allow bundesliga.com to introduce the candidates...
Received wisdom states that good footballers can adapt to conditions anywhere – and Dan-Axel Zagadou is living proof that this is true. The 18-year-old arrived at Borussia Dortmund from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer having failed to make a single Ligue 1 appearance. Although ostensibly a centre-back, injuries caused coach Peter Bosz to throw him in at the deep end as a left-back. Zagadou passed the test with flying colours and played in each of BVB's first six Bundesliga matches, including four in the starting line-up. Not bad considering he is the fourth youngest player in Germany's top flight this season.
Standing at 1.94 metres tall, it is no surprise Zagadou wins many more challenges than he loses. His quota of 59 per cent is bettered only by two full-backs so far in the Bundesliga this season. While he is solid at the back, do not expect to see the captain of the France U-19 side to do overlapping runs down the wing. "I try to keep things as simple as possible," he said. "I don't try to do things I can't do." That sensible philosophy has been recognised by Bosz: "He's playing out of position but he's doing very well. He's pretty quick despite his size and he's got good technique." Bundesliga fans across Germany are already well aware of that.
Although Jean-Kevin Augustin arrived at RB Leipzig from serial French champions Paris Saint-Germain, where he scored twice in 23 Ligue 1 appearances, he was still a largely unknown figure in Germany. "He's perfectly suited to our style of play," said Leipzig head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl upon the 20-year-old's arrival. Going by the evidence so far in 2017/18, he was spot on, and Leipzig are unbeaten in games in which Augustin has started (three wins, one draw). The fleet-footed attacker caught the eye with his maiden Bundesliga goal against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 4, and added his second on Matchday 6 against Eintracht Frankfurt. Having missed out on Matchday 5 with a knock, Augustin's return in September was two goals in three games.
"I think the Bundesliga is the ideal place for young players," said Augustin upon signing. The statistics support that claim, with the French youngster already having enjoyed more minutes on the pitch than he did in the entire 2016/17 campaign with PSG. He has also struck up an intuitive understanding with fellow striker Timo Werner, the duo regularly teeing each other up for shots on goal. And it was only September – just imagine what they will be like in a few months.
Sebastien Haller's path into the Bundesliga was an unusual one. The Paris-born striker joined AJ Auxerre at the age of 13 and made his senior debut in the second division five years later. However, the powerfully-built forward did not make his breakthrough as a professional until moving to Dutch side FC Utrecht in January 2015. He scored goals for fun there, even if his eye for goal is only one facet of his game. "I always want to score goals, but I'm a team player first and foremost," said Haller. He demonstrated as much in his first few Bundesliga outings: no other player in the league contested as many challenges (201). He won just over half, an impressive return for a striker.
In September, Haller also had something to show for his efforts. He set up Kevin-Prince Boateng to score the winner away to Borussia Mönchengladbach and netted the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in a victory in Cologne, meaning he has played a significant role in both of the Eagles' Bundesliga wins this term. "He's a big guy who can win the ball in the penalty area," said head coach Niko Kovac of his new recruit. Haller himself is well aware of the benefit of his 1.90 metre frame: "My physique is without doubt one of my strengths". His opponents in the Bundesliga so far can no doubt confirm that assessment.