10 Worst Bundesliga Signings from the 2014 Summer Transfer Window
The 2014 summer transfer market has closed after yet another eventful roller-coaster ride. Although traditionally pragmatic and proactive, many Bundesliga teams saved big deals until late in the window, with several sides making seemingly panicked, last-minute buys.
Many clubs were able to get their man, though some had to compromise or altogether failed to sign a player to fill a void in their squads.
Reviewing the transfer window, B/R takes a look at the Bundesliga signings that, for one reason or another, were rather ill-advised. Click "Begin Slideshow" to commence the countdown, starting with number 10.
10) Aaron Hunt
Wolfsburg's top transfer priority of the summer was, without a doubt, the striker position. With Ivica Olic nearing 35 years of age and Bas Dost having failed to assert himself in two seasons at the Volkswagen Arena, the club desperately needed more quality in the No. 9 position. And they still do.
Attacking midfield is an area that was of far less importance to VfL, who not long ago spent a club record fee to sign Kevin De Bruyne and also had the likes of Ivan Perisic, Vieirinha, Daniel Caligiuri and budding talent Maximilian Arnold in their ranks. But they nonetheless signed Aaron Hunt on a free transfer from Werder Bremen.
Although the Lower Saxony side paid no transfer fee for Hunt, the player did by no means come for free: He has significant wages to be paid. Such money could well have gone toward the wages or transfer value of a top striker. Wolfsburg instead got Nicklas Bendtner, who will be discussed later.
9) Yann Sommer
After selling Marc-Andre ter Stegen to Barcelona, Gladbach were left with the impossible task of replacing their hometown hero and arguably one of the best players in the club's history. They opted to sign Yann Sommer from Basel at the cost of €8 million (per Transfermarkt) .
Sommer is a good goalkeeper, no doubt. But for the price paid for his services, Gladbach could have done better. The downside to the Switzerland international is that, although he is experienced, he is rather small for his position: 1.83 meters (6'). He can't cover the area Ter Stegen could.
Looking around the Bundesliga and even the German second tier, there are plenty of players who would jump at a chance to play at Gladbach. And there are plenty of clubs that would be willing to sell their No. 1 for less than €8 million. Frankfurt's Kevin Trapp is one example, Timo Horn is another. Sommer may well do well in Ter Stegen's place, but at the onset, Gladbach may have been able to get more for their money.
8) Julian Schieber
It may be controversial to list a player who scored a brace in his first match of the season as one of the summer's worst signings, but a priori, Julian Schieber was certainly a candidate for worst and a posteriori, the season is still young.
A few months ago, Hertha BSC had one of the Bundesliga's most prolific strikers in Adrian Ramos and a budding talent in recently called-up Germany international Pierre-Michel Lasogga. Now they have Julian Schieber to lead the line.
Schieber spent the previous two seasons riding the bench at Dortmund, playing just 1,401 minutes (per Transfermarkt). In the prior season at Stuttgart he played more, but he scored just three goals, two of which came against his future employers, BVB.
There's no doubt that Schieber has talent, but it's been a long time since he showed his quality and Hertha are taking a big risk with him—especially considering that they've spent their share of time in the 2. Bundesliga in recent years.
7) Xabi Alonso
As in the case of Schieber, it may at first seem suspect to be dismissive of a player who performed well in his first outing for his new club. In the case of Bayern signing Xabi Alonso, it's less the player and more the symbolism and message he sends that makes him a questionable signing.
Earlier this summer, Bayern had the 24-year-old Toni Kroos, a player who in recent months had risen meteorically to superstardom, in their ranks. Real Madrid had the 32-year-old Alonso, who—although still very useful—had been relied upon less and less and was no longer as important to their midfield as Luka Modric and Angel Di Maria. By the end of the summer, Kroos and Alonso had swapped places. Real secured the former ahead of his prime years; Bayern got the latter a few months shy of his 33rd birthday.
Some among the Bayern faithful shrugged off Kroos' sale as if it was hardly significant. That plausible deniability was eliminated when Alonso was signed: Bayern did indeed need a midfielder after all. And in their desperation, they were willing to pay Alonso more (€7.5 million per year, according to Bild) than they offered to Kroos (€7 million, per Bild). So much for taking a stand in the face of soaring wages.
6) Thorgan Hazard
Gladbach did very well in the summer transfer window, signing the likes of Andre Hahn and Ibrahima Traore for just over €2 million combined. And then they added Thorgan Hazard, on loan from Chelsea.
There's no doubt Hazard is a very talented player. He's shown that much already and may well assert himself as a permanent starter sooner rather than later. But that's the problem for Gladbach. The Fohlen have aspirations of becoming a Champions League side, and their squad could well contend for a spot in Europe's most elite club competition next season. If they manage a top-four finish with Hazard in their ranks, though, it will hardly do them any good next season because the player is under contract at Chelsea and will return to the London club at the end of the current campaign.
In relying upon a loanee in such a critical position in attack, Gladbach are taking a short-sighted approach. Yes, Hazard may and in all likelihood will provide some great quality to their front line. But the more he plays, the less those in it for the long haul (Hahn and Traore in particular) will be able to integrate into the team and become the key players they can be.
5) Lewis Holtby
Lewis Holtby made his return to the Bundesliga this summer after a one-and-a-half year stint in the Premier League. The 23-year-old joined Hamburg in a last-minute loan deal from Tottenham. In Holtby, HSV added a player who proved himself in Germany once upon a time, one who also is somewhat damaged goods after 18 months of stagnation.
After joining Spurs, Holtby played in just 24 Premier League games before being sent to Fulham, where he also played a somewhat limited role and was unable to prevent the club from being relegated.
It will probably take some time for Holtby to regain his form and HSV will have to be patient. The problem is, they only have him for a year; he could take the next step in his development later on in the season and Hamburg could feasibly only benefit from a couple of months of quality play before he moves on.
4) Ji Dong-Won
Dortmund could hardly have gotten a better financial deal for Ji Dong-Won, but it's a mystery what role the South Korean will play in the Ruhr team. Confirmed as the first signing of the summer transfer window, Ji may have had hopes of starting or at least playing a significant role off the bench. But as BVB have signed more and more players who can be used in positions where he can play, Ji's hopes have dwindled.
A natural striker, Ji is now fourth choice behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ciro Immobile and Adrian Ramos. He can also play in attacking midfield, but he has Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Kevin Grosskreutz and Shinji Kagawa as competition. In other words, there is precious little hope of him playing much at all this season.
The 23-year-old was an outcast at Sunderland and was only used sparingly at Augsburg. He scored just one goal in 2013-14. He has talent, but he is decidedly out of his depth at Dortmund. Unless he is to become the next BVB attacker-turned-full-back, Ji's signing is a senseless bit of squad planning.
3) Lucas Piazon
Looking through Frankfurt's depth in the forward positions, there is a good chance that Lucas Piazon will be of significant use in Thomas Schaaf's system. The 20-year-old is a rising talent who has Haris Seferovic and Vaclav Kadlec as competition in the center-forward role for the time being—Nelson Valdez is not an immediate threat due to his having torn an anterior cruciate ligament.
As a winger or secondary striker, Piazon is probably Frankfurt's most significant goal threat from midfield. With all things considered, his loan move was probably good on a personal level and for Chelsea, the team to which he is contracted.
For Frankfurt, however, Piazon's signing is one for the short term and a rather unfortunate one for the club's progress. It may be true that burgeoning talents Sonny Kittel and Marc Stendera were promoted to first-team football too quickly and suffered debilitating injuries, but the Adler would be wiser to protect their own investments with long-term solutions. If they don't, they're just a feeder club for teams like Chelsea, and one that despite having a quality academy, may be stifling home-grown talent.
2) Johan Djourou
Last season, Hamburg narrowly avoided relegation with the Bundesliga's worst defensive record. It was a low point in the history of the club, which to this day remains the only one to have played every season in the German top flight since the league's creation in 1963. For many clubs, it would be a sign to do anything necessary to swap their defensive players. Hamburg, curiously, opted instead to make Johan Djourou's loan deal permanent.
Djourou was a particularly weak point in a very weak Hamburg back line last season, so his long-term signing is somewhat of a mystery. Looking around the Bundesliga, the club certainly had options. Philipp Wollscheid, for example, who now may be frozen out of the Leverkusen squad due to the club's many central-defensive additions this summer. Another option is Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who was loaned to B04 by Schalke, who would have much preferred a less dangerous team like HSV to train their defender. Sticking with Djourou seems to make little to no sense.
1) Nicklas Bendtner
With Ivica Olic turning 35 later this month, the question of the summer transfer window for Wolfsburg was who they would sign to bolster their front line. Romelu Lukaku was mooted before he signed for Everton, per Sky Sports (h/t Kicker), while Alvaro Morata also was a possibility before he joined Juventus. At the end of it all, Wolfsburg signed Nicklas Bendtner.
It may be true that Bendtner came on a free transfer, but regardless, he takes a position in the Wolfsburg team that could and frankly should be taken by a more qualified player. The ex-Arsenal man showed he has talent in his youth and at times has been quite magnificent at international level. But his attitude and motivation have long been a problem. If he couldn't find the motivation to perform in front of 60,000 fans at the Emirates, how can he be expected to deliver for a club like Wolfsburg, notorious for having very modest fan support?
Lukaku or Morata would have been expensive, but both are already excellent footballers who still have room to develop. Bendtner is 26 years old and already widely regarded as a has-been. Not the best business for a team aiming to break into Germany's top four.