Eight players depart Union Berlin following season finale
Marvin Friedrich, Michael Parensen and Suleiman Abdullahi of 1.FC Union Berlin after the Bundesliga match between 1. FC Union Berlin and Fortuna Duesseldorf at Stadion an der alten Försterei.  (Photo by Mathias Renner/City-Press GmbH via Getty Images)

The hierarchy at Union Berlin will likely be busy in the summer transfer window as they look to replace the eight players who are moving on to pastures new following the end of the Bundesliga season.

The club’s longest serving first team squad member will depart, Michael Parensen. He joined Union in 2009 and has been part of two promotion campaigns into the 2.Bundesliga and the Bundesliga.

The 34-year-old is going to continue as an employee of the club, becoming a member of the club foundation’s board of directors. The German defender made his 249th and final appearance for Union on the final day of the season, helping the side beat Fortuna Dusseldorf 3-0.

Another long serving player to depart is Sebastian Polter. The forward joined Union in 2014 on loan from Mainz. He scored 14 times in 29 matches in that 2.Bundesliga campaign.

He then spent 18 months on loan at Queen’s Park Rangers, but signed permanently for Union in 2017. Polter suffered a serious injury but returned to score nine goals in the Bundesliga promotion campaign.

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New goalkeeper needed?

There will be some big shoes to fill in between the sticks at Union, as first choice goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz departs. The Polish goalkeeper has spent two seasons in Köpenick, making 75 appearances following his move from SC Freiburg.

Gikiewicz has always been a consistent performer, and will always be remembered for his equaliser against Heidenheim in the promotion-winning season.

Two more very experienced players will leave the club, in midfielder Manuel Schmeideback and left back Ken Reichel. The former made 32 appearances in the promotion campaign, but featured just six times for Urs Fischer’s side this season.

32-year-old Berliner Reichel has made 37 appearances for the club, and was a stand-out performer in the promotion play-off win over VfB Stuttgart.

Key defender returns to Freiburg

Two loan spells have come to an end, meaning Keven Schlotterbeck and Yunus Malli will return to SC Freiburg and VfL Wolfsburg respectively.

22-year-old defender Schlotterbeck made 27 appearances in the Bundesliga for Union, becoming a stand-out performer. Malli made just 13 appearances in a loan spell that didn’t take off as many had hoped it might.

A player from the academy is also departing, midfielder Maurice Miguel Opfermann Arcones. The 20-year-old never made an appearance in the Bundesliga. He has been part of the club since joining from TSV Rudow in 2011.

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The futures of midfield duo Felix Kroos and Christian Gentner are unclear, with both out of contract on June 30th, 2020. The club say discussions for extensions are ongoing.

Where will Union look to shop?

The two stand out departures from the first team are Gikiewicz and Schlotterbeck, and the club will need to replace them effectively if they are to consolidate their Bundesliga status next season.

Union are a club of very limited financial power, meaning they may look to pillage relegated sides Fortuna Dusseldorf and Paderborn for their best players on cut price deals. They will of course also have to look to the academy for squad depth and perhaps breakthrough stars.

Equally, players from sides such as Hamburger SV and SV Darmstadt 98 who have narrowly missed out on promotion to the Bundesliga this season may see Union as an attractive transfer destination.