Three weeks after the end of the regular season, the 2. Bundesliga’s top clubs have already made plenty of moves in preparation for the next campaign, which starts at the end of July.
Relegated FC Ingolstadt 04 have positioned themselves as early promotion favourites though with some impressive captures, including the arrival of Stefan Kutschke, whilst SpVgg Greuther Fürth signing Nik Omladic from Eintracht Braunschweig is another eye-catching deal.
In the first of two articles, we look at who else has moved from the sides who finished in the top half of the league last season.
Relegated duo look to rebuild
Arguably the best business done by either of the two sides relegated from the Bundesliga is Ingolstadt tying down several of their key players from their return to the second tier. Marvin Matip, Sonny Kittel, Almog Cohen and Romain Bregerie have chosen to stick with die Schanzer rather than seek pastures new, as Pascal Groß (Brighton & Hove Albion) and Matthew Leckie (Hertha BSC) have done.
They have also made six new acquisitions, including striker Kutschke, whose move from 1. FC Nürnberg was completed on Sunday. He scored 16 goals on loan with Dynamo Dresden last season, and Ingolstadt managing director Harald Gärtner cited his “exceptional skills on and off the pitch” as to why they’ve brought in him at the third attempt.
Amongst their other moves, winger Marcel Gaus is joining from 1.FC Kaiserslautern and Tobias Schröck arrives from Würzburger Kickers, and both will add extra 2. Bundesliga nous. The young trio of Phil Neumann (whose move from Schalke 04 was confirmed in January), Paul Grauschopf (RB Leipzig) and Gianluca Rizzo (Borussia Mönchengladbach) have also signed.
SV Darmstadt 98 have already released or sold 12 first team players this summer, but Torsten Frings made his biggest transfer coup before the season had even ended. German FIFA World Cup winner Kevin Großkreutz will be looking to rebuild his career after a messy end to his brief time at VfB Stuttgart.
They have also signed two goalkeepers to replace Hannover 96-bound Michael Esser, with Joël Mall signed from Grasshopper Club Zurich and Florian Stritzel coming from relegated Karlsruher SC, although he never made a senior appearance for them. Julian von Haacke (NEC Nijmegen) and Australian striker Jamie Maclaren (Brisbane Roar) are their other newcomers so far.
Braunschweig and Dresden squads start to break up
After missing out in the play-off against VfL Wolfsburg, Braunschweig have made a slow start to the transfer window. They have brought in Steve Breitkreuz and Louis Samson on free transfers from Erzgebirge Aue, as well as former Gladbach youngster Steffen Nkansah. The departures for the Lions are more significant though so far – as well as the loss of Omladic, Phil Ofosu-Ayeh and former captain Marcel Correia have been released.
By contrast, last season’s other promotion challenges 1. FC Union Berlin have only lost the players they’ve chosen not to extend with – surprisingly including Roberto Puncec. They have though strengthened their defence, with Marc Torrejón arriving from SC Freiburg and Peter Kurzweg joining the exodus from Würzburg. They have also signed midfielders Marcel Hartel from 1. FC Köln and Grischa Prömel from Karlsruhe.
After an impressive first season back in the second tier, Dresden are set to lose several key players too. As well as the long-since confirmed move for Marvin Stefaniak to Wolfsburg, they will not be permanently signing loanees Kutschke and Akaki Gogia. Giuliano Modica and Nils Teixeira have also gone, whilst others, including the talented Niklas Hauptmann, could follow.
They have made some canny signings though, with both Rico Benateli (Würzburg) and Sören Gonther (FC St. Pauli) likely to help re-strengthen the spine of the side. Patrick Möschl (SV Ried), Sascha Horvath (SK Sturm Graz) and Lucas Röser (SG Sonnenhof Großaspach) have also been brought in.
Mid-table finishers looking to strengthen their hands
1. FC Heidenheim have only strengthened their side so far, with no departures, as they look to push on after several mid-table finishes. Maximilian Thiel joins on a free transfer from Union Berlin – although he’d do well to dislodge left-wing mainstay Marc Schnatterer from the side.
Creative midfielder Kolja Pusch is a notable purchase from promoted SSV Jahn Regensburg, with Marnon Busch arriving from Werder Bremen after a season on loan at 1860 Munich. Also joining the club are Matthais Köbbing (TSG 1899 Hoffenheirm), Robert Glatzel (Kaiserslautern) and Nikola Dovedan (SCR Altach).
St. Pauli are the only side who finished in the top half to change their coach, with Olaf Janßen replacing cult figure Ewald Lienen, who has taken on the role of sporting director. As for their squad, their best business of the summer so far concerns two players who were on loan last season – they have taken the option to sign Cenk Sahin permanently from Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir, whilst Mats Möller Daehli’s loan from Freiburg has been extended for another twelve months.
The loss of Gonther to Dresden might have hurt but they have replaced him with Clemens Schoppenhauer – another departure from Würzburg – whilst Sami Allagui joins from Hertha BSC to provide Aziz Bouhaddouz with the sort of competition he lacked in his impressive first season at the Millerntor.
Another side who finished the season stronger than they started it was Fürth. As well as the impressive capture of Omladic, who had been linked with Bundesliga clubs beforehand, they have also brought in Manuel Torres (Karlsruhe), Richárd Magyar (Hammarby IF) and goalkeeper Timo Königsmann (Hannover). Andreas Hofmann (Karlsruhe), Zlatko Tripic and Sebastian Freis (both released) have been let go.
There hasn’t been too much business for VfL Bochum so far, but they have strengthen their attack by bringing in Lukas Hinterseer from Ingolstadt and Dimitris Diamantakos from Karlsruhe, both in the last few days. Gertjan Verbeek will hope at least one of them can be the double-digit goal scorer they lost when Simon Terodde left last summer.
Quote via FC Ingolstadt 04.