Evaluating each Bundesliga club’s transfer window to date; find out where Bayern Munich ranks
Merely a month in, it’s become clear that the 2023/24 edition of the summer transfer window will be remembered as the Silliest of all Seasons.
€300 million for one player? F**k off.
Jamie Carragher complaining that a foreign league is buying all of the domestic talent? Oh, the irony…
Football continues to move into a strange hyper-capitalistic state, and I don’t care at all for it. Thankfully, we’ve got German football. It will continue to stand out with its wonderful 50+1 rule, embracing the essence of the sport as it was intended to be: for the fans, by the fans.
Yes, the transfers aren’t as extravagant — but who cares? At least German football, and the transfer window around it, remains firmly grounded in reality.
I needed to get these words of my chest. Though I’m not particularly invested in the ‘media buzz’ surrounding Silly Season, I find it fascinating to assess how Bundesliga teams aims to improve their teams while dealing with a continuously lavish global transfer market.
Hence, the inspiration for this article, where I’ve created my own “power rankings” of the Bundesliga transfer window.
Ranked from worst to best, these rankings will be dependent on the current status of each Bundesliga team. Consequently, the criteria applied to Bayern Munich will be vastly different from the criteria applied to FC Heidenheim.
What will remain the same in all of the criteria of each team, are these three questions:
- Do the transfers improve or address the shortages of the selected Bundesliga team?
- Do the transfers make sense through an economical perspective?
- To what extent do the transfer losses impact the selected Bundesliga team?
Yes, there’s still loads of time before the transfer window period ends. Therefore, this ranking is preliminary, and I may update it by 1st September (if my personal life permits it).
Enjoy and let me know your views in the comment section!
**Please be aware that I haven’t listed all the inbound and outbound transfers. If you’re interested in viewing the complete list of transfers, Transfermarkt is the place to find them.
18. SV Darmstadt
Listing one of the promotion clubs last might appear harsh. Nonetheless, Torsten Lieberknecht’s team have lost two crucial players: striker Phillip Tietz and centre-back Patric Pfeiffer. Darmstadt responded by signing two replacements: 23-year-old centre-back Christoph Klarer from Fortuna Dusseldorf for €2 million and 23-year-old striker Fraser Hornby, who scored eight goals for Oostende last season.
Is it enough to stay up? I doubt it.
17. FC Köln
Led by the charismatic Steffen Baumgart, the departure of Ellyes Skhiri on a free transfer appears to be a significant blow for Köln. especially considering their unconvincing performance at the end of the season. To fill the void left by Skhiri, they have brought in Jacob Christensen from the Danish side Nordsjælland on a free transfer.
The loan signing of Luca Waldschmidt and the addition of 28-year-old left-back Leart Paqarada from St. Pauli do not exactly instill confidence for next season.
16. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Don’t get me wrong: Attila Szalai is a great signing for Dietmar Hopp’s side, who faced struggles last year. However, the departure of Christoph Baumgartner is a major setback. He played a crucial role in Hoffenheim’s creativity and attacking prowess.
Bringing in Julian Justvan from Paderborn as a replacement doesn’t appear to be sufficient to fill the void.
15. Borussia Dortmund
Replacing Bundesliga’s best player was always going to be a difficult task. I’m not sure Felix Nmecha and Marcel Sabitzer has the quality to substantially improve Edin Terzic’s perpetually inconsistent team.
Apparently, Terzic and sporting director Sebastian Kehl are not aligned on Die Schwarzgelben’s transfer policy. Dortmund still, in my opinion, need another offensive player and a right-back. However, getting Ramy Bensebaini on a free is an excellent piece of business.
14. Borussia Mönchengladbach
Die Fohlen transfer period is hard to predict. Yes, they’ve lost many good players: both Marcus Thuram and Ramy Bensebaini left on a free, Jonas Hoffman left for a rival, and Jordan Beyer will not return from Burnley.
Their incoming class of players could appear to be either a hit or miss. French midfielder Frank Honorat from Brest is an interesting signing, however the price tag of €8 million seems a tad much. €10.5 million for Czech striker Tomas Cvancara is a gamble that could either work out great or become yet another expensive flop. They’ve also signed some interesting youngsters, such as Bayern’s Grant-Leon Ranos and Werder Bremen’s Fabio Chiarodia.
However, I believe this extreme turnover in personnel was necessary for a team that looked lost and uninspired last season. I believe that Gerardo Seoane is a great managerial appointment. His Leverkusen did look great at times, and he fits the Gladbach style of play to a tee.
The outcome could be a resounding success or a complete miss.
13. Werder Bremen
Acquiring Naby Keita on a free transfer appeared to be a remarkable coup for a club embarking on a vital second consecutive Bundesliga season. However, now there are concerns arising about whether he is too injury-prone.
26-year-old Dawid Kownacki scored 14 goals for Fortuna Dusseldorf last season and could be an interesting signing.
What makes Bremen’s transfer window decent so far is that they have not lost any player of significance. However, they need to further reinforce their squad after a shaky second half of the 2022/23 season.
12. Mainz 05
Mainz 05 have not been particularly active in the transfer window so far, however, they’ve managed to retain all of their key players that were crucial to a successful 2022/23 campaign.
22-year-old midfielder Tom Krauß is an intriguing signing — who had a decent spell with the chaotic Schalke 04 team last season.
11. SC Freiburg
22-year-old Junior Adamu, who scored 14 goals for RB Salzburg last season in all competitions, seems like a player that Christian Streich can bring to the next level. The signing of goalkeeper Florian Müller seems like a good deal as well. Spending these two players for €7.5 million seems like a great deal.
Both the players were signed as replacements for Kevin Schade and Mark Flekken. Freiburg received a combined €38 million for them — an economical success.
10. FC Heidenheim
Frank Schmidt’s miracle gang haven’t lost any key players thus far.
That’s a win in itself.
They’ve signed striker Marvin Pieringer — who had a fantastic season for SC Paderborn — for a mere €1.8 million. Most importantly, Tim Siersleben will return to the club from VfL Wolfsburg.
Is it enough for Heidenheim to stay up? Doubt it, but in Frank Schmidt we trust.
9. VfL Wolfsburg
Felix Nmecha’s departure to Borussia Dortmund will be difficult, however, Wolfsburg has been proactive in attempting to fill the void.
Vaclav Cerny, the winger who scored 13 goals for FC Twente last season, arrives alongside with centre-back Cédric Zesiger from Young Boys Bern. The combined cost of €13 million for these acquisitions appears reasonable, although the transition to a better league might be demanding for both Cerny and Zesiger.
Wolfsburg made further investments in 21-year-old striker Tiago Tomas and 24-year-old centre-back Moritz Jenz for a total of €16 million. Both has Bundesliga experience and have the potential to develop significantly under Kovac’s guidance.
8. VfB Stuttgart
Sebastian Hoeneß improved Stuttgart significantly last season. Activating the option-to-buy option for Serhou Guirassy’s seemed obvious, albeit it cost Stuttgart quite a hefty sum of €9 million.
Acquiring 23-year-old Woo-Yeong Jeong from Freiburg for €2.8 million can be a very interesting signing, and buying 17-year-old Serbian wonderkid Jovan Milosevic for €1.2 million could prove to be a Bellingham-esque type of deal. Alexander Nübel replacing Florian Müller seems like a very solid piece of business as well.
In my view, Stuttgart has the potential to be one of the surprise packages of the upcoming Bundesliga season.
7. Bayern Munich
What you’ve all been waiting for.
If Harry Kane had been a confirmed deal, Bayern would have ranked higher on the list. However, so far, Bayern has failed to address their most important squad need for next season: signing a new striker.
Replacing an injury-prone Lucas Hernandez with Kim Min-jae appears to be a positive step, but I am uncertain about whether Min-jae will live up to the expectations. At 26-years-old, he has only experienced one season in Europe’s “Top 5” leagues, which was indeed fantastic, but it remains to be seen how he will adapt and perform in Munich.
What makes Die Roten’s transfer window successful thus far is getting the underrated Konrad Laimer on a free and receiving €63 million for both Hernandez and Sabitzer.
6. FC Augsburg
Activating Mergim Berisha’s option to buy for only €4 million is fantastic news for Augsburg faithful’s. The striker, who scored nine goals for Augsburg while on loan last season, joins together with Darmstadt’s striker Phillip Tietz who scored 12 goals during Darmstadt’s’ 2022-23 promotion campaign.
They will replace American flop Ricardo Pepi — who joins PSV Eindhoven. Augsburg was able to sell Pepi for a whopping €11 million. The striker, who didn’t score a single Bundesliga goal the Fuggerstädter, won’t be missed.
Additionally, Augsburg signed 21-year-old defensive midfielder Tim Breithaupt from Karlsruhe SC, a player who I think has enough quality to take the next step in his career.
5. RB Leipzig
The Bundesliga club that has endured the most active transfer window. Received €130 million for two of their star players: Dominik Szoboszlai and Christopher Nkunku. While they still might lose Josko Gvardiol for a record amount, Leipzig has been actively working to bolster their squad with young talents, following the ‘blueprint Leipzig’ approach, with all signings being 24-years-old or younger.
At first glance, Benjamin Sesko and Nicolas Seiwald looks like solid signings, given the track record of former RB Salzburg players excelling at RB Leipzig. Lois Openda has scored consistently for Vitesse and Lens the last two seasons, however, the €43 million price adds an element of risk to the deal.
Young loanees Xavi Simons and Fabio Carvalho, as well as permanent signing El Chadaille Bitshiabu, have the potential to excel under Marco Rose’s stewardship. However, I believe the standout signing will be Christoph Baumgartner, who is primed to take the step from being a good Bundesliga player to a world class midfielder.
4. Eintracht Frankfurt
In my opinion, Frankfurt made their most important signing on June 12th. Dino Toppmöller has been waiting for his big break for a while. He took Luxemburgish side Dudelange to the Europa League group stage for the first time in the club’s history in 2018. Although he failed at Belgian club Virton, he must of learned plenty from Julian Nagelsmann at RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich. He’s, in my opinion, the most interesting Bundesliga manager to watch out for in 2023/24.
Additionally, Frankfurt has not (as of yet) lost any key players. Instead, they’ve invested €35.9 million on strengthening their squad. Players such as Willian Pacho and Hugo Larsson — acquired for a combined €18 million — seem talented, but will require time to adapt to the Bundesliga.
Frankfurt further invested in young talents with buying back Junior Dina Ebimbe from Paris SG, snatching Ansgar Knauff from Dortmund, and acquiring Jessic Ngankam from Hertha BSC Berlin — all which cost Frankfurt €15.5 million.
Buying-back Philipp Max and loaning Robin Koch seems like very clever signings. Additionally, the captures of Omar Marmoush and Ellyes Skhiri on free transfers would almost make this transfer window flawless, if it were to conclude tomorrow.
3. VfL Bochum
To begin with, Bochum has managed to retain all of their key players that secured the Ruhr-based club in the Bundesliga.
They’ve also been busy trying to improve the team. 25-year-old creative midfielder Moritz-Broni Kwarteng arrives after a fantastic season with FC Magdeburg in the Zweite Bundesliga, centre-back Noah Loosli has been a regular for Swiss side Grasshoppers, Slovakian national midfielder Matus Bero have consistently performed for Vitesse, and 24-year-old attacking midfielder Lukas Daschner had a fantastic season for Nurnberg last year. Lastly, the seasoned Bundesliga defender Felix Passlack completes the arrivals, adding experience to the defensive line.
Bochum has improved their squad both defensively and offensively — all for a grand total of €1.5 million. Their financial prowess off the pitch remains excellent, and under the leadership of Thomas Letsch, they’ve become a team that is tactically brilliant on the pitch.
I believe Bochum will play Bundesliga football in 2024/25.
2. Bayer Leverkusen
The departure of Moussa Diaby was expected, but Leverkusen made a fantastic move by obtaining €55 million from Aston Villa for him. Personally, I believe Diaby is to inconsistent to become a world class player.
Die Werkself have spent the Diaby money smartly — acquiring players that bring much needed routine to a young, and inconsistent, squad. Xabi Alonso will enjoy the tactical prowess of Granit Xhaka and Jonas Hofmann, two experienced players in their 30s who have the potential to significantly enhance the Leverkusen side.
Victor Boniface and Arthur are two talented players, although I don’t expect any immediate fireworks from both of them. The best signing, maybe of the whole Bundesliga transfer window, is getting experienced Alejandro Grimaldo on a free.
Leverkusen also sold Mitchell Bakker, a rotation player, for €10 million. Considering all of this, Leverkusen has achieved a profit of €12.5 million this transfer window, making it an almost flawless window overall.
1. Union Berlin
What happens when a cinderella team, filled with unknown players, reach the Champions League for the first time? The easy assumption is that the team lose their star players – but unlike last season, where Union Berlin sold Taiwo Awoniyi, Union has retained the core of their starting eleven.
Instead the East German club, who have proven to beat the odds both in the transfer market and on the pitch, have invested heavily in their own squad.
A financial gamble, perhaps. But at first glance, the signings look flawless.
Buying back Diogo Leite for €7.5 million was an obvious move, and Union has further strengthen their defensive prowess by acquiring Lucas Tousart for a mere €3 million from city rivals, Hertha BSC Berlin. Yes, Tousart did not succeed on the other side of the Berlin Wall — however, his evident talent suggests he could prove to be a shrewd and affordable addition for Union. Getting goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow on a free and defensive midfielder Alex Kral on loan looks at first glance like two very intelligent signings.
Offensively, the two loanees signings stand out: young wonderkid David Datro Fofana from Chelsea FC and American international Brenden Aaronson from Leeds United. Both could flourish under the guidance of Urs Fischer, and strengthens the, at times, mediocre Union attack. Additionally, the signing of 22-year-old Danish striker Mikkel Kaufmann for €2.7 million — who excelled at Karlsruher SC — could be a great signing for the future.
Despite qualifying for Europe for a consecutive year, Union’s primary objective remains securing their position as a Bundesliga club. From my perspective, they have made near perfect transfer acquisitions that align with this goal.