Having narrowly missed out on promotion to the Bundesliga this year, 1. FC Union Berlin have begun their preparations for next season in the 2. Bundesliga with the signing of Marcel Hartel from 1. FC Köln.
The 21-year-old midfielder joins the club on a three-year contract having found first team opportunities limited in his first season as a full professional at Köln.
First team chances limited
Hartel had been with Köln for 15 years, joining as a six-year-old from SC West Köln in 2012 and rising through the youth ranks with the club. He eventually signed his first professional contract last summer, having made his first appearances for the first team the season before.
His debut had been a baptism of fire, appearing as a substitute during the 1-0 defeat at Köln’s bitter rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach last February. In total he made just eight appearances, two this season, without ever starting.
Most of his football this season has come in the fourth-tier Regionalliga West with the club’s under-23 side, where he has played 12 matches, scoring three goals and making five assists.
Unless he appears against 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday, his last appearance for the Billy Goats will have been in the 4-0 defeat to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in December.
A chance to develop
He has now made the move to Berlin, with Köln general manager Jörg Schmadtke saying that the transfer gives him “an opportunity to get much more playing time” than he could at Köln. He will be reunited with former teammate Daniel Mesenhöler.
Speaking after putting pen to paper on Tuesday, Hartel said he was looking forward to “a new challenge in a different environment” with his new club. He felt that the club had “proved that it is on a good and successful path” this season and that he wanted to “contribute” to its development in the coming years.
First team manager Helmut Schulte described Hartel as “a highly talented player,” and he hopes that the club could “support his development” and that he was “convinced” that Hartel would strengthen Jens Keller’s team.
Whilst Hartel is Union’s first new signing of the summer, they have also recently extended the contract of right-back Christopher Trimmel. However Roberto Puncec, Benjamin Kessel, Maximilian Thiel, Benjamin Köhler, Emanuel Pogatetz, Adrian Nikci and Raffael Korte are all expected to leave in the summer.
Quotes via 1. FC Köln and 1. FC Union Berlin.