smarterscout SPECIAL REPORT: Bundesliga is back!
Let's all send our thanks to the brave players, coaches, and staff who are part of Europe's first big league to restart play! Fans from around the world have been awaiting the return of Bundesliga matches with the sort of excitement that usually leads up to a Champions League final, and why not? It's a fantastic league full of fascinating players. We've used our Pro tools to pick out an exciting player to watch at each club, so read on and enjoy!
Augsburg. Philipp Max has three caps for Germany and one goal, which says a lot about one of the best attacking LBs in the league. He's a crossing machine who's also an incredible finisher. Max usually plays very wide, but when he does come inside, watch out! Just don't ask him to, you know, defend.
Bayer Leverkusen. What can we say about Kai Havertz that hasn't already been said (including in our own playerfocus on him)? He just gets better and better. He may be the best CAM in Germany, and he's only 20. The best part is that there's almost no one like him – try our "Search for similar player", and you'll find that most of the top matches are... Kai Havertz. A unique player with a huge future.
Bayern Munich. We shouldn't have to say this, but watch Thiago Alcantara play. He may be the best DM in the world. Across our entire database, the list of players who come close to his ratings in our models using our "Search by metrics" looks like this:
Borussia Dortmund. There's a certain Englishman in the squad who may not be staying in Germany for much longer, and some blonde kid who can't stop scoring, but the young talent we really want to talk about is Achraf Hakimi. The fullback is a smarterscout young prospect whose numbers are simply scintillating wherever he plays. A product of the Real Madrid academy, he already has 28 caps for Morocco and should probably consider adding the middle initial F to his name:
Borussia Monchengladbach. Marcus Thuram is not just Lilian's son. He's a smarterscout young prospect – profiled in our playerfocus – and a star in his own right. The 1.92m forward is dominant in the air and on the ball, fearless in the box, and already a handful for any back line. He has six goals and eight assists in under 2,000' this season at age 22. Ceiling, what ceiling?
Eintracht Frankfurt. Unpopular opinion: Filip Kostic has turned into a really good player. Maybe it was a bit late in coming; he's 27, after all. But when Kostic has been on the pitch, he's been behind about half of the club's expected goals in the Europa League and 40% in the Bundesliga. Stats don't lie – at least these don't:
Fortuna Dusseldorf. The Flingeraner have several interesting players including a couple on loan from other Bundesliga clubs. One of them is Stuttgart's Erik Thommy, who's been moved around the midfield but has supplied outstanding attacking all over the pitch. Fortuna will surely exercise their option to buy – and if they go down, they might turn right around and sell Thommy at a profit.
Freiburg. We haven't seen much of 20-year-old Nico Schlotterbeck, but what we have seen has been raw but very good. He's a natural LCB at a towering 1.91m, and he's even been thrown on as a striker in extra time. Let's hope he gets some more minutes in the remaining matches.
Hertha Berlin. Hello, Jurgen? It's probably time to bring Marko Grujic back to the mothership. The Liverpool midfielder has been out on loan since 2016, but now – still only 24 – he's starting to catch fire. The quality of his defending still leaves something to be desired, but he's unstoppable in the air and dangerous on the ball:
Hoffenheim. If you haven't heard of Stefan Posch, you will. The Austrian international was a smarterscout young prospect until turning 23 shortly before play resumed, and he's been lighting up the league with his all-action style at RCB. The Kraichgauer have used him at RB as well, but he really excels in the middle.
Koln. Ellyes Skhiri worked away in relative obscurity for years, putting up great numbers at Montpellier in Ligue 1. Now on a slightly bigger stage, the showing off his skill in duels and as a finisher once again. Since coming to the Bundesliga, his ball retention has improved while the quality of his defending has dropped off a tad. But at age 25, the Tunisian international DM has plenty of big years ahead of him, and we wouldn't be surprised if he made another step up. Hell yes, Skhiri.
Mainz. Jeremiah St. Juste was a new addition to the squad over the summer, and the Dutchman has shown remarkable promise as a central defender even at age 23. He's a strong and aggressive defender who's good in ground duels and can also get forward and finish. Not many CBs have a smartermap like this one:
Paderborn. Though defending has been an issue for the Bundesliga's last-placed team, Jamilu Collins has shown that he belongs in Germany's top division. The 25-year-old Nigerian international is aggressive off the ball with a ton of ball recoveries and is pretty good on it as well, involved in half of Paderborn's goals when he's on the pitch. He's great in ground duels both ways, too.
RB Leipzig. He's not the most talked about player at the taurine-fueled club, but Christopher Nkunku may be the one opponents need to stop. Good things happen when the 22-year-old Frenchman touches the ball. By our count, he's played six different positions for Leipzig this season, and he's had attacking output rated 90+ at each one. His ball retention is also insanely good, even though he's a huge dribbler. That's nothing short of incredible. Did we mention he had four assists in one match away at Schalke? Somebody throw money at this guy!
Schalke. Weston McKennie is 21 years old. Let's say that again: Weston McKennie is 21 years old. The American international has been his club's Swiss army knife in midfield, filling in for a few hundred minutes almost anywhere. And did we mention that he's one of the best midfielders in the air across the entire Bundesliga? Special skills, special kid:
Union Berlin. Let's have a moment of appreciation for Christopher Trimmel, the 33-year-old Austrian who's been with this club since 2014. The captain has nine assists from RB and RM/RWB this season, and he still has phenomenal skill in duels in the air and on the ground, at least in possession. He doesn't get forward much or find himself involved in many good moves in open play, but set pieces are a different story altogether, including corners from either side.
Werder Bremen. Milot Rashica's name has been on the lips of scouts since he moved to Vitesse as a teenager five years ago. The exciting Kosovar forward is now 23, with great attacking output and ball retention for the second season running. He's an excellent finisher, too, and may move to a bigger club over the summer.
Wolfsburg. At this point, the only reason people don't know more about Koen Casteels is a friendly giant who happens to play for Real Madrid. The Belgian goalkeeper is having the season of his career at age 27, with excellent shot-stopping both in open play and especially from dead balls. He used to defend more aggressively, but this season maybe he hasn't had to – with just 22 goals conceded in 17 matches, the Wolves' new captain is his own insurance policy.
[Photo: Marco Verch]