After another successful summer for Germany, who won the Confederations Cup and the European U-21 Championship, fans are now focussing on the start of the Bundesliga season. The last campaign was exciting, with something of a title challenge, surprising performances and the emergence of several quality players and coaches.
Now, it’s time to do it all again, and here the team at Lucky Nugget Casino have earmarked five key players for you all to keep an eye on.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Borussia Dortmund
It’s been a hectic summer for Dortmund, who parted company with Thomas Tuchel even though he won the German Cup. As well as that, new manager Peter Bosz has had to deal with intense speculation surrounding his key players. It’s looking likely that Barcelona will manage to prise away French sensation Ousmane Dembele, which therefore increases the importance of keeping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Gabonese goal-machine has hit 56 goals in his last 63 league games and is one of the most coveted forwards in the world. With electric pace, he transforms the way Die Schwarzgelben play and will be looking to end up as the Bundesliga’s top scorer once again. However, interest remains from his wealthy ex-club AC Milan but keeping ‘Auba’ must be a priority if Dortmund are to have a successful season.
James Rodriguez – Bayern Munich
Arguably the biggest name to join in the league in the past few months has been Colombian star James Rodriguez. The left-footed midfielder shot to worldwide prominence after performances at the 2014 World Cup, where he scored the goal of the tournament. This prompted Real Madrid to pay a fee believed to be around €80m, making him one of the most expensive players in history.
Yet, his time in the Spanish capital was mixed. Whilst he undoubtedly played his part as Los Blancos won two Champions League trophies and La Liga, his involvement was limited. Given the talent in Zinedine Zidane’s squad, playing time was hard to come by, but competition for places looks equally tough in Munich. Having signed a two-year loan deal, James will be hoping to cement his place in a side that is challenging for the top honours and establish himself as one of the best players in the world.
Serge Gnabry – Hoffenheim
Last year was a real breakthrough campaign for talented 22-year old winger Serge Gnabry. After spending six years in England with Arsenal and an unsuccessful loan spell with West Brom, the Stuttgart born player moved back to Germany to sign permanently for Werder Bremen. Playing regularly, Gnabry scored an impressive 11 goals as they just missed out on European football. However, his form didn’t go unnoticed and resulted in a move to champions Bayern Munich, although the Bavarians have loaned him out to Hoffenheim.
First-team football seems much more likely with Julian Nagelsmann’s men and he will also get to showcase his ability in Europe after their 4th placed finish last season. Another goal for Gnabry will be to earn international recognition. He was called up to the Germany squad in November 2016 and scored a hat-trick against San Marino on his debut, and with a World Cup on the horizon, the youngster will need to consistently perform to earn a spot in the star-studded squad.
Leon Goretzka – Schalke 04
Another player who will have his eyes on a place in Jogi Low’s World Cup squad is Schalke player Leon Goretzka, who was key to the Confederations Cup victory this summer. Even though he is just 22-years old, the all-action midfielder has been a regular for Die Königsblauen since he joined from Bochum in 2013 and is attracting interest from major clubs across the world. Worryingly for Schalke fans, he has a year left on his contract and reports have constantly suggested he will see out his current deal before joining Bayern Munich on a free.
Either way, this year could be a big year for Goretzka as the side look to improve on their poor finish of 10th place last time out. With a range of attributes, Goretzka has the ability to be deployed in various midfield roles but seems at his best when given freedom to go forward. With that in mind, you can expect an improvement on the five league goals scored last season in what could be his final season in Gelsenkirchen.
Mario Götze – Borussia Dortmund
Mario Götze has already carved his name into football history having scored the goal that won the 2014 World Cup. However, he has had a difficult time on the pitch since that career-defining moment. The creative attacking midfielder was a key component of the Jürgen Klopp side that won successive Bundesliga titles but would later be the villain after he left for arch-rivals Bayern Munich. After a mixed spell at the Allianz Arena, Götze returned to Dortmund at the start of last season.
Yet, in February 2017, the German was ruled out ‘indefinitely’ after a mystery illness believed to be a metabolic disease. Thankfully, Götze is back training now and ready to play. With undoubted talent, if Götze can rediscover the form that resulted him being one of the best young players in the world, then it could be a major boost to everyone connected with German football.