Jannik Vestergaard has got his way and has been allowed to leave Hoffenheim for Werder Bremen for around €2 million. Vestergaard had made his feelings clear after falling down the pecking order at the Sinsheim club. The arrival of Ermin Bičakčić combined with the rapid development of Niklas Süle has forced Vestergaard out.
Vestegaard used to be a regular for the side but during those days the defence was far from stable and Hoffenheim nearly got relegated in 2013 before they saved themselves on the final day against Borussia Dortmund.
Of course that can’t be blamed solely on him but it appears coach Markus Gisdol has lost faith in the Danish U21 player. Despite his considerable physique his lack of pace and sometimes stupid mistakes cost his side dear on multiple occasions. Even midfielder Tobias Strobl appears to be preferred at the heart of the defence. In spite of the season ending injury to Süle it appears the 22 year old wasn’t prepared to wait for the chance to play.
For Bremen defensive reinforcements were a priority. So far this season they have conceded 39 goals in only 17 games, averaging more than two a game. As a result they sit in the relegation play-off spot and are only two points ahead of direct relegation.
For Hoffenheim this move makes both makes sense in many ways. Firstly they have got rid of a disruptive influence from their dressing room and that will allow them to concentrate on their push for Europe in the Rückrunde. Also as already mentioned Vestergaard was arguably 5th choice and to get €2 million for a player who arrive on a free transfer is smart business by the club and will help the coffers.
It is well known that Hoffenheim like to promote young players, whether they come from the academy or from another club, the examples like Niklas Süle and Kevin Volland stand out among others. Vestergaard’s departures will allow perhaps more promising youngsters to come into the first team side. And there are a few with bright futures waiting in the wings.
The one who stands out most is Kevin Akpoguma, the 19-year old centre-back who played an integral role in Germany’s U19 success at the European Championships. There had been rumours that he might have been on his way but these have died down and he now looks set for some more game time. Just behind him is fellow centre-back Nicolai Rapp who is just 18 years old.
He is captain of the Hoffenheim U19 side and they are the current holders of the Bundesliga U19 title having beaten Hannover 96 5-0 in last year’s final. Along with those two is teammate Nico Rieble who can play all across the back line but his preferred position is left back. All three players accompanied the senior side in the winter break trip to Johannesburg and they were interviewed about their time there. Akpoguma said, “It’s a great thing for a young player to come into”.