With a pressing need to strengthen in key areas this summer, Bundesliga follower Chris Williams looks at an XI of German-based players that could make an immediate impact in the Premier League.
When Jurgen Klopp arrived in Liverpool to become the Reds manager in October 2016, it was always going to be the case that the club would be linked with numerous Bundesliga players.
Be it Klopp’s old guard from Dortmund, such as Mario Gotze, or emerging talent like Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt, Germany looked an ideal place to start when assessing potential transfers in which the new manager could build upon.
It was inevitable that with former Mainz and Dortmund coach at the helm Liverpool would be linked with some of the biggest stars from Germany. Players such as Dortmund’s red hot striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gladbach’s versatile midfielder, Mahmoud Dahoud, and remarkably even Bayern Munich’s talisman, Robert Lewandowski, have all been subjected to press rumour.
The arrival of goalkeeper Loris Karius and centre-back Joel Matip last year highlighted Germany as an area in which Liverpool are prepared to do business.
With recent history suggesting Liverpool are unlikely to spend upwards of £40 million on one player it will fall to Sporting Director Michael Edwards and his team of staff to identify alternative talent that is instantly ready for the rigours of the Premier League.
With German teams flying high in both UEFA club competitions this season, and Liverpool keen to return to the European top table, it may just be an avenue worth revisiting come the transfer window this summer.
Goalkeeper: Lukas Hradecky
The Finish international has been in tremendous form this season for Frankfurt. With 10 clean sheets, nine in the Bundesliga, he sits second behind Bayern’s Manuel Neuer in the prestigious Kicker ‘White Vest’ top goalkeeper table.
At 27 he has the experience needed to carry the weight of expectation, something ex-Bundesliga goalkeeper Loris Karius suffered from on his move from Mainz last summer.
With the younger Karius still adapting to the Premier League, and Mignolet looking likely for a summer exit, Hradecky has the potential to step up instantly and with it develop Karius under his experienced wing.
Right-back: Pavel Kaderabek
Liverpool are not lacking in right sided defensive options so it would be a surprise to see them dip into the transfer market for this area. However, should they be tempted to, Hoffenheim’s 24-year-old Czech would be a decent addition.
Having come through the academy ranks at Sparta Prague, before moving to the Bundesliga, Kaderábek is well travelled on the European stage.
With secondary positions in both wide midfield areas the Czech international could offer a greater depth to Klopp’s squad.
With Trent Alexander-Arnold tipped for a big future and Nathaniel Clyne holding the position as his own, a transfer foray into the wing back area would be best suited on the opposite side.
Left-back: Yannick Gerhardt
Gerhardt has had a standout season for Wolfsburg as their number one choice left back. Moving from FC Köln last summer he has transitioned to be a more complete player under the guidance of both Dieter Hecking and more recently, Valérien Ismael.
With an ability to play in both the central and left sided midfield areas, as well as his preferred left-back role, the 22-year-old German international offers a strength in depth as well as a fix for one of Liverpool’s most troublesome positions.
With Wolfsburg unlikely to qualify for Europe next season the prospect of Champions League, or even Europa League, football may be enough to tempt him to join Klopp should Liverpool be interested.
Left sided centre-Back: Mergim Mavraj
Whilst Mavraj may be on the very upper age limit of Liverpool’s transfer preferences there is no doubt that with age comes experience.
The 30-year-old Albanian has over 30 appearances for the national side since making his debut in 2012. Having played competitively throughout the league structure in Germany, and displaying credible results, he would bring composure to a Liverpool back line that has frequently lacked it during the 206/17 campaign.
If Liverpool wish to build a squad that is competitive across all competitions they will require a degree of experience. As shown by Gary McAllister in 2001, players in their 30s are not necessarily barriers to ability.
However, having only moved to Hamburg in the January window, from FC Koln, a summer move may not be on the cards for this dependable centre back.
Right sided centre-back: Benedikt Howedes
The Schalke captain is no stranger to success. Having amassed international medals from the Under 21 European Championship and 2014 World Cup, he also has domestic winning pedigree with a DFB Pokal accolade.
Strong on either side of the centre back positions he can also operate on both defensive flanks as a wingback. Playing together with Joel Matip, at Schalke, he delivered one of the Bundesliga’s most successful centre-back partnerships.
With Liverpool crying out for a consistent performer in the centre back role it could be a wise move to rekindle the successful Royal Blue’s partnership at Anfield.
Howedes, 28, has all the necessary Klopp player requirements and will be no stranger to the Liverpool manager from his time in many a hard-fought Ruhr derby.
Defensive midfield: Christoph Kramer
Arguably, more important than the centre back role at LFC is an addition to the defensive midfield unit.
With experience of playing at two of Germany’s bigger clubs, as well as European experience in both the Champions League and Europa League this season, Kramer is not just an option he is an essential for this summer.
Comparable in play to both Francis Coquelin and PSG captain Maxime Gonalons, the capture of Gladbach’s central midfielder could offer the missing link between the transitions of play.
With a current market value of £10 million it would realistically take an offer of around £15 million to tempt Borussia into a sale.
Kramer has the experience on the world’s biggest stage, the World Cup Final, and he is a proven winner. Should Liverpool be tempted by anyone on this list, Kramer is the man!
Defensive midfield: Stefan Ilsanker
Leipzig have been one of the Bundesliga’s surprise packages this season. Heavily backed by drinks manufacture Red Bull, their debut season in Germany’s top tier has been enthralling to watch.
Key to their success has been Austrian defensive midfielder Stefan Ilsanker. Playing in all 21 Matchdays this season predominantly in his stronger DCM position; like many players with the German league though, he can operate in a myriad of positions.
Having proven himself as a ball-playing centre-back signing a player of Ilsanker’s ability would plug the two biggest holes in Liverpool’s current squad.
A quality defensive midfielder, who can operate at centre-back if required, would be the stuff of dreams for many Liverpool supporters.
Left Wing: Filip Kostic
The 24-year-old Serbian international has been a key figure in Hamburg’s post winter break revival.
Arriving at the Volksparkstadion last summer in a £12 million move from Stuttgart he has been a constant throughout the current season, only missing one matchday through injury; a groin strain in late September.
With Liverpool flush in attacking options the adding of forward-minded midfielders may not be top priority.
However, with the Reds looking to fight on four fronts next season Kostic would offer a genuine threat, especially from set pieces. Holding down a regular place in the Bundesliga it may be the case that Kostic would be unwilling to be a bit part player in England.
Right Wing: Marcel Sabitzer
Sabitzer has one eye on the Champions League, barring some sort of monumental collapse Leipzig look nailed on to make their debut in the competition next season.
Coupled with this has been sporting director, Ralf Rangnick’s declaration, that Leipzig will match any offer that comes in from the Premier League to keep their players at the Red Bull Arena.
Should Liverpool choose to strengthen in this area, and not be put off by rebuffs such as Ragnick’s, then Sabitzer offers an ability to break at speed.
The Austrian would bring a potent counter attacking threat and a seamless adaptation into a Liverpool front line that, at times, is one of the league’s best at super-fast transition.
Centre Forward: Anthony Modeste
Daniel Sturridge has had no end of troubles since his standout season in 2013/14 and Liverpool have missed a deadly finisher.
In Modeste the Reds would find everything they desire; a proven scorer on the floor, and in the air, the 28-year-old Frenchman is in the prime of his career.
Currently sitting on 19 goals, 17 in the Bundesliga, he tops the German ‘golden boot’ race; the Torjägerkanone (top scorer cannon) award is currently held by Robert Lewandowski but Modeste currently leads the way from both Bayern’s Lewandowski and BVB’s Aubameyang.
With the Chinese reportedly interested it could push his transfer value out of Liverpool’s accepted range for a 28-year-old.
Centre Forward: Lars Stindl
Stindl is Gladbach’s captain and secondary striker. With 12 goals and six assists across Borussia’s 30 matches this season he is a genuine threat to any opposition team. As Fiorentina found out to their cost in the latest Round of 32 tie, Stindl bagging a hattrick during the away leg in Italy.
As well as a goal scoring and creating ability, he brings a strong leadership presence to Gladbach; something Liverpool supporters have long argued is missing from their current squad.
Stindl would offer a more realistic capture than Modeste, especially with regards to price – £15 million. With a leadership presence on the attacking front line he would bring a dynamic presence to an area that has shown, at times, when the chips are down the goals are hard to come by.
With Liverpool having ventured into the Bundesliga to capture players before the opportunity to go back may be one that the club cannot afford to forgo.
England’s top sides are peppered with talent honed in Germany’s top tier. Consistently in the latter stages of Europe’s biggest competitions, and home to the current World Champions, the Bundesliga is tactically superior at this current time to the Premier League.
If Liverpool have ambitions of returning to their Champions League heydey of the mid-00s, the acquisition of players from one of Europe’s strongest leagues is something that must be considered.