Erzgebirge Aue have signed former 1. FC Nürnburg and 1.FC Kaiserslautern striker Albert Bunjaku as they look to bolster their attack for the second half of the season.
The 33-year-old, who has been capped by both Switzerland and Kosovo, arrives from Swiss side FC St. Gallen on a two-and-a-half year contract.
He is reunited at Aue with head coach Pavel Dotchev, who had previously signed him for Rot-Weiß Erfurt.
Bundesliga and World Cup experience
Bunjaku was born in Gjilan, now in Kosovo, but he moved to Switzerland as a teenager and eventually began his professional career with FC Schaffhausen before moving to SC Paderborn 07 in early 2006.
He failed to make an impact there but signed that summer for Erfurt, with 34 goals in 74 third-tier games eventually earning him to move to Nürnberg in January 2009. Despite scoring only one goal as they won promotion back to the Bundesliga, he went on to score 12 the following year in the top flight.
That form earned him a call-up to the Swiss national team, but despite appearing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, he won only six caps and eventually chose to represent Kosovo when they gained international recognition last year.
He missed most of the 2010-11 season with a hyaline cartilage injury, and after struggling to re-establish himself in the side, moved to relegated Kaiserslautern in 2012. Again an impressive first season, with 13 goals scored, was followed by an injury-hit second, leading to his transfer to St. Gallen in 2014.
An important reinforcement
His form since joining St. Gallen has been inconsistent, and again he had been hampered by injuries. A relatively untroubled season up to now had seen him score three times in 12 appearances in the Swiss Super League this season, but Dotchev will be hoping his experience can help his side in their ongoing battle against the drop.
Aside from Pascal Köpke, who has scored seven of their 17 goals so far this season, their other centre forwards Dimitrij Nazarov and Martin Toshev, who both arrived in the summer, have yet to find the back of the net with the latter only seeing 38 minutes of action.
Dotchev is naturally delighted that the transfer has been completed. He describes him as a “genuine reinforcement” for the side and that he would “definitely help” in their fight against relegation, with the Violets currently second-bottom of the 2. Bundesliga.
He also believes that Bunjaku and Köpke “will complement each other very well,” suggesting that he could look to play them both together as front two, rather than the 4-2-3-1 formation he has deployed for most of the season so far.
Bunjaku himself believes his experience, including relegation battles with Nürnberg, will help the club to stay up. “My role will be to pull everyone together and score goals,” he said. His first opportunity to prove what he can do will be against 1. FC Heidenheim at the end of January.
Quotes via Erzebirge Aue and Bild.