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Sahin, Holtby & More: The Bundesliga's 9 Biggest January Transfer Deals so Far

Clark WhitneyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2013

Sahin, Holtby & More: The Bundesliga's 9 Biggest January Transfer Deals so Far

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    The January transfer window is usually a rather quiet one in Germany, and that in 2013 has been generally the case. Only seven purchases and sales have eclipsed the €2 million barrier, and the most expensive transfer thus far has been Wolfsburg's signing of Ivan Perisic for €7.5 million.

    Still, there have been some big names to move to, from and within the Bundesliga. In addition to Perisic, star midfielders Nuri Sahin and Lewis Holtby have moved to Dortmund and from Schalke, respectively.

    Schalke compensated for the loss of Holtby by importing Brazilian attacking midfielders Raffael and Michel Bastos, while Renato Augusto left Leverkusen for Corinthians in his homeland.

    The aforementioned players are just a selection of the many transfers to take place in the Bundesliga this January. Click "Begin Slideshow" for a rundown of the most significant moves in the German league, arranged in chronological order.

Arkadiusz Milik (Gornik Zabrze to Leverkusen, €2.6 Million)

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    Leverkusen began their winter transfer campaign early, when they confirmed on December 17 the signing of Arkadiusz Milik from Gornik Zabrze, with the transfer made official on January 1.

    Although the clubs did not confirm his release fee, the figure is understood to be in the amount of €2.6 million. If true, his cost could be remembered as peanuts by the time he reaches full maturity.

    The 18-year-old Milik is much like a young Robert Lewandowski in terms of playing style: physically combative, very fast, and with a powerful shot.

    Even in his youth, the forward seems to be remarkably mature. He made his debut for the senior Poland national team in an October friendly with South Africa, and already is settling in well at Leverkusen.

    Milik was on the bench last weekend as Leverkusen drew 0-0 with Freiburg. Junior Fernandes, who previously was the first-choice backup for starting striker Stefan Kiessling, was not.

    The Polish striker has enjoyed a successful start to his career in Germany. Now he just needs to take his chances and stay on the same path to success.

Andre Hoffmann (Duisburg to Hannover, €800,000)

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    The current season has been a difficult one for 2. Bundesliga side Duisburg, who entered the winter break in 14th place, hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone. Their greatest talent, 19-year-old midfielder Andre Hoffmann, found a way out of a potential future in the 3. Liga as, on January 3, he signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with Hannover.

    Although he is still very young and will have to work hard to earn a regular role in Mirko Slomka's squad, Hoffmann is a considerable prospect with all the potential to be a star of the Bundesliga. He was given the silver Fritz Walter Award in 2010 for his service with the German U17 team, and in 2012 earned the same honor for his performance with the U19 Mannschaft.

    Hoffmann hit the ground running at Hannover, and has settled in very well. He came on as a substitute for Sergio Pinto in Bundesliga matchday 18, and last weekend replaced the suspended Pinto in his first start.

    With the Portuguese midfielder approaching his 33rd birthday, it seems that Hoffmann is being groomed to be his long-term successor. And if the €800,000 signing can fulfill his potential, Hannover will have done a very good bit of business.

Ivan Perisic (Dortmund to Wolfsburg, €7.5 Million)

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    Bundesliga transfers this January have been rather modest in expense, and a testament to this truth is that the reported €7.5 million cost of Ivan Perisic's move from Dortmund to Wolfsburg is the most expensive of the window.

    Indeed, the amount paid for the Croatia international is more than twice the €3 million Hoffenheim paid for each of Eugen Polanski and David Abraham, the joint-second-most-expensive transfers.

    Perisic has talent to justify his price tag, however. The 23-year-old was prolific for Brugge in 2010-11, scoring 16 goals and providing eight assists in 27 Jupiler League games before adding six more goals and two assists in 10 appearances in the playoffs.

    The winger also showed his quality from time to time at Dortmund, even if he rarely was given the chance to perform. His late volley to equalize against Arsenal in the Champions League last season was a display of his technical brilliance.

    Now at Wolfsburg, Perisic has a chance to start anew in an environment where he is needed. His stock has fallen, but his talent remains and time is on his side.

Renato Augusto (Leverkusen to Corinthians, €3.5 Million)

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    When Renato Augusto signed for Leverkusen in 2008, much was expected of the then-20-year-old playmaker. Things did not go according to plan, however, and the Brazil native managed just 119 appearances in four-and-a-half years with die Werkself.

    Repeated injuries to his knees stunted the ex-Flamengo man's development, and this season he was behind Andre Schuerrle, Gonzalo Castro, Karim Bellarabi and Sidney Sam in the competition for two available spots on the wings in the Leverkusen lineup.

    He managed just 113 minutes in Bundesliga play over the first half of the season, and was promptly sold to Corinthians on January 8 for €3.5 million.

    Leverkusen sold a very talented player in Renato Augusto, and for less than they paid Flamengo for his services. Still, it was the right time for the BRazilian to call it quits at the BayArena. Perhaps in his homeland, he will flourish once more.

Nuri Sahin (Real Madrid to Dortmund, €1 Million Loan)

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    Two years ago, Nuri Sahin was the best midfielder in the Bundesliga and looked to be on the cusp of greatness. Following a brilliant season with Dortmund, he signed with Real Madrid. That's when things turned south.

    For numerous reasons, Sahin failed to make his mark in Spain, and after just one season he was sent to Liverpool on loan. His fortunes on Merseyside were no better, and in January his loan was cut short as Liverpool, Real Madrid and Dortmund struck a deal that allowed the 24-year-old to return to the Ruhr area.

    On merit from the last one-and-a-half seasons, there is little to say for Sahin. However, he rejoins a largely unchanged squad at BVB, and now is operating under the coach (Juergen Klopp) who once made him a superstar. It may take him time to find his stride, but Sahin is still young and now is in the right environment to succeed.

    Coming for just €1 million on an 18-month loan with an option to buy reportedly in the amount of €7 million, Sahin is a cheap buy for BVB. If he doesn't succeed, little is wasted. If he becomes the player he was in 2010-11, the €7 million price tag will pale in comparison to his real value.

Raffael (Dynamo Kiev to Schalke, €1 Million Loan)

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    Perhaps anticipating Lewis Holtby's departure in January rather than June, Schalke pounced on the opportunity to sign ex-Hertha Berlin playmaker Raffael from Dynamo Kiev. The 27-year-old moved to Gelsenkirchen on a six-month loan on January 16. His deal included an option to be made permanent for an undisclosed price.

    The Brazil native only moved to Kiev at the end of last season and never truly settled. He is quite talented, although his six goals and nine assists in the Bundesliga last season were not enough to prevent Hertha's relegation. Raffael therefore still has much to prove.

    Having never before played for a top club, and never properly played in the Champions League, it's uncertain how he'll adapt to the pressure that comes with his contract at one of Germany's most successful sides.

    Especially given the talent Schalke possess in attacking midfield, it's possible that Raffael's playing time will be limited. The Gelsenkirchen side have given him an opportunity, however, and he now he finally has his chance to prove himself on a big stage.

Lewis Holtby (Schalke to Tottenham, €1.75 Million)

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    When Lewis Holtby announced on January 4 that he would not extend his contract with Schalke and would instead join Tottenham at season's end, a countdown began that led to his eventual departure from the Bundesliga.

    That countdown accelerated as rumors linked him with a departure six months early, and on Monday, the 22-year-old signed with Spurs for a reported €1.75 million.

    A three-time Germany international and the captain of the DFB U21 team, Holtby is a big coup for Spurs, and a major loss for Schalke. The versatile midfielder was among the Gelsenkirchen side's best players in the first half of the season, and had the ability to play in attacking or defensive midfield roles, in the center or even on the left wing.

    Schalke have done their best to replace him by signing Raffael and Michel Bastos on loan deals, but it remains to be seen just how much they'll miss Holtby.

Michel Bastos (Lyon to Schalke, €1.8 Million Loan)

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    Following Holtby's move to Spurs, Schalke needed a new attacking midfield option eligible to play in the Champions League.

    Raffael was cup-tied, having featured in Dynamo Kiev's playoffs and two group stage games, and thus the Gelsenkirchen side turned their focus to Michel Bastos. On Tuesday, the club confirmed his signing on an 18-month loan, with option to buy for an undisclosed sum.

    At the player's introduction, sporting director Horst Heldt explained that Bastos is "an internationally experienced player with special skills who can help us right away." Heldt added: "He's also eligible to play in the Champions League."

    The 29-year-old Bastos scored five goals in 12 appearances for Lyon in the first half of the season, and brings experience in the form of 26 career Champions League matches with Lyon.

    Schalke have done very shrewd business in acquiring his services for so little. If he is still effective as he approaches his 31st birthday when his loan runs out, Schalke can activate his purchase clause. If not, they will have paid the player's wages plus a nominal fee to keep him on loan for one-and-a-half seasons.

     

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