Ten Bundesliga players to watch in the 2012-13 season

July 27, 2012 in Bundesliga

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Ever since the 2010 World Cup, when Germany’s youthful squad tore through numerous teams before narrowly losing to Spain, it is as if someone has pulled back the curtain on the Bundesliga’s outstanding home-grown quality. Real Madrid were quick to act, securing the signatures of Mesut Özil and fellow national team-mate Sami Khedira for €26mil. Özil has since delivered 49 assists in 105 appearances, and the two have been integral to Madrid’s unstoppable league form over the past two seasons. Now, in the summer of 2012, Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea have signed Werder Bremen’s Marko Marin and also have their eye on Leverkusen star André Schürrle. Arsenal, too, have shown their intent, bringing in the consistently brilliant Lukas Podolski.

But what about the players who won’t be leaving for adventures far and wide? Here is a collection of players who will doubtless make this year’s Bundesliga an exciting campaign to watch – and no, I don’t mean Ribery and Robben!

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CLAUDIO PIZARRO (BAYERN MÜNCHEN)

Pizarro is not German. Nor is he an untapped starlet waiting to shine. Pizarro is a monolith; a Peruvian powerhouse who returns to former club Bayern München on a one-year-deal. At 33, he may lack pace but still possesses the skills to do this and this. Premier League fans will remember Claudio for his unimpressive spell at Chelsea, where he scored only two goals in 32 appearances. However, Pizarro was quick to settle back into Bundesliga life after being re-signed by Bremen. He has a combined total of 227 goals when playing in Germany and is currently the league’s leading top foreign scorer of all time. He was also involved in 47% of Bremen’s goals last season. Expect Pizarro to poach, pinch and poke his way into the Torjäger-Rangliste (top scorers table).

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MARCO REUS (BORUSSIA DORTMUND)

Reus also returns to a former employer, bolstering boyhood-club Dortmund’s title-winning squad. With last season’s technical talisman Shinji Kagawa departing to Manchester United, some will see Reus as a direct replacement; the fees (approx. €17mil) are very similar, as are the players’ lethal attacking play. Yet with the deal secured by January, some six months ago, Reus has clearly been on manager Jürgen Klopp’s shortlist for a long time. With eight league assists and 18 league goals for the previous season – as well as belting in his first competitive international goal at this year’s Euros – Reus has cemented his place as one of the Bundesliga’s best players.

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LUUK DE JONG (BORUSSIA MÖNCHENGLADBACH)

Despite the reported interest of Liverpool and Newcastle, among others, Dutch forward Luuk de Jong has signed for Borussia Mönchengladbach. De Jong is one of those players who looks like he scores simply for fun, which is very good news for Gladbach – his goals reel for the 2011/12 seasons is reminiscent of Ibrahimovic’s and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s gluttonous early campaigns. At €15mil he is by no means cheap, but as a replacement for the firepower of Reus, it seems a shrewd purchase.

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JULIAN DRAXLER (FC SCHALKE 04)

Fresh-faced 18-year-old Julian Draxler is a relatively new presence in the Bundesliga, but with 45 appearances already behind him, the Schalke youngster looks set for a solid first-team future, playing alongside José Manuel Jurado and new signing Tranquillo Barnetta. He made his international debut in Germany’s Euros warm-up against Switzerland and scored a magnificent last-minute winner against Nürnberg in the quarter-final of the 2010/11 DFB Pokal (German Cup).

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ANDRÉ SCHÜRRLE (BAYER LEVERKUSEN)

The aforementioned forward has been tempted by a summer move to Chelsea but looks set to stay at current club Bayer Leverkusen. Schürrle has 27 goals in 97 Bundesliga appearances, alongside a few blistering performances for the national side. He’s quick, young and powerful, with a great head of golden hair.

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MARC-ANDRÉ TER STEGEN (BORUSSIA MÖNCHENGLADBACH)

Ter Stegen claimed 15 clean-sheets in the 2011/12 campaign (the second highest in the league behind München’s Manuel Neuer); he also stopped 81.25% of all shots that came his way. These surprisingly accomplished performances come from a 20-year-old who has only made 29 appearances in the Bundesliga. This season, die Fohlen (the foals) will be playing Champions League football, so expect to see the young goalkeeper in action in the group stages.

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LARS STINDL (HANNOVER 96)

Hannover 96 enjoyed a good season, remaining unbeaten at home, reaching the quarter-finals of the Europa League and securing a follow-up European campaign. Lars Stindl was instrumental in their ascendance, looking confident in a midfield that was often put under pressure. At 23, he can only get more assured.

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MATS HUMMELS (BORUSSIA DORTMUND)

The masterful centre-back was arguably Germany’s best player at this summer’s Euros; he intercepted passes and made tackles like no other, and wasn’t afraid to roam forward either. He is Dortmund: technically proficient and consistently brilliant. Hummels has produced three consecutive seasons of precision tackles and exceptional aerial ability. With a pass completion rate of just over 80% last season, he is a genuine all-rounder.

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DANTE (BAYERN MÜNCHEN)

Testament to Mönchengladbach’s superb season, Dante features as our third foray into the Foals’ 2011/12 squad. Gladbach’s solid defence was partly down to the Brazilian’s anticipation skills and ability to win tackles – he won 63% of all attempted tackles last year. Before the season’s end Bayern München had already lodged a successful bid to bring him to the Allianz Arena. He has a cool afro too, which is exciting.

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KLAAS-JAN HUNTELAAR (FC SCHALKE 04)

I’m not sure whether Huntelaar can actually play football, but he can certainly put the ball into the Tor. The Hunter amassed 47 goals in 48 games for Schalke, with 29 of those coming in the league, making him the Torschützenkönig (top goalscorer) for the previous season. After a disappointing few games at the Euros we have to hope that a rejuvenated Huntelaar will be back at his best for the coming year.

 

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