RB Leipzig swoop to capture Burke and Bernardo
Oliver Burke. | Photo: RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig swoop to capture Burke and Bernardo

They continue their pursuit of the best young talent by signing the Nottingham Forest winger and the Salzburg defensive midfielder.

James Rees

On the same day that they made their debut in the Bundesliga with a 2-2 draw against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, RB Leipzig have added two more players to their sides with the arrivals of Oliver Burke and Bernardo.

The capture of Scottish winger Burke is the headline deal, arriving from Nottingham Forest on a five-year deal for a fee of €12 million.

Bernardo, a defensive midfielder who can also play at the back, joins from FC Red Bull Salzburg and has also signed a five-year deal although no details on a fee have been announced.

Leipzig beat top clubs to Burke

The deal to bring the 19-year-old Burke to Germany, announced after their game with Hoffenheim, has taken many by surprise, but his arrival continues Leipzig’s notable youth policy.

Burke had a breakthrough season with Forest last season, scoring two goals in 18 appearances, and had started the new season in electric form, with four goals in just five games, including a strike what turned out to be his final game against Leeds United on Saturday.

Burke scoring against Leeds on Saturday. | Photo: Nottingham Post/Mark Fear
Burke scoring against Leeds on Saturday. | Photo: Nottingham Post/Mark Fear

He has also picked up two caps for the Scotland national team, with Gordon Strachan bringing him off the bench in games against Denmark and Italy last season, and is in the squad for the upcoming game against Malta.

Leipzig's sporting director Ralf Rangnick described the “outstanding” Burke as “a talent with a scary amount of potential.” He added that “with his high tempo and style of play he fits very well with our philosophy.”

Rangnick was also pleased to have beaten several other top clubs to his signature, with Bayern Munich and several Premier League clubs having been linked with him.

Bernardo follows a well-trodden path from Salzburg

Earlier in the day they also announced the arrival of Brazilian midfielder Bernardo. He only joined Salzburg in January from Brazilian club Associação Atlética Ponte Preta, making 16 apperances in the Austrian Bundesliga and playing a full part in their latest unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, losing at the last hurdle in extra time to GNK Dinamo Zagreb.

“With Bernardo we have signed a versatile left-footed player,” said Rangnick. “He has developed very well and quickly in Salzburg in the last six months and with his capabilities fits our profile.”

21-year-old Bernardo is, incredibly, the eleventh player to join Leipzig from sister club Salzburg, either on a permanent basis or on loan. Naby Keïta and Benno Schmitz have also made the move this summer.

Bernardo in action against Dinamo Zagreb for Salzburg. | Photo: RB Leipzig
Bernardo in action against Dinamo Zagreb for Salzburg. | Photo: RB Leipzig

However Salzburg coach Oscar Garcia was not happy with yet another player making that path. “We now have two training teams – Liefering A and Liefering B,” he told ORF, referring to the club’s development team in the Erste Liga.

He also claimed that the club’s hierarchy now saw the Salzburg first team as a development club as well, although Salzburg and Leipzig are no longer officially-associated, despite the common backer in Red Bull.

Quotes via RB Leipzig and Sportnet.