Over the last few years, we’ve seen a real resurgence in the Bundesliga.
It may still be dominated by one club – the monolithic Bayern Munich – but the introduction of safe seating and shared ownership agreements with supporter groups has created a vibrant atmosphere around the German top flight, with attendances reaching record highs.
On the pitch too, we’ve seen huge improvements over the last four or five seasons. Borussia Dortmund, Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen always tend to put on a show in Europe, whilst Wolfsburg have emerged as the new kids on the block.
Yet to catch up with the Premier League in terms of finance, however (although they’re certainly not too far behind), English clubs are privy to the luxury of being able to prize away the division’s top performers – providing Bayern don’t beat them to it.
So with that in mind and the official opening of the summer transfer window just around the corner, here’s FIVE Bundesliga stars Arsenal should be targeting.
It remains to be seen what will become of Marco Reus as a consequence of Jurgen Klopp’s resignation as Borussia Dortmund boss.
The prolific winger-forward signed a contract extension until 2019 in February and captain Mats Hummels’ decision to stay on at Westfalen will certainly serve as a motivation to follow suit.
But those more sceptical will view the 26 year-old signature of extended terms as predominantly a measure to eradicate his previous release clause – an outrageously cheap £25million.
And there’s no debate the German international would be a key player for pretty much any major club in Europe. Reus’ blend of technical quality, intelligence and incredible speed renders him equally capable in attacking midfield, on the wing or up front, and has also produced the sensational haul of 37 goals and 27 assists in 82 league outings for the Black-Yellows.
In terms of Arsenal’s starting XI, the former Gladbach talisman would slot in rather comfortably on the right-hand side – or on occasion, as an out-and-out centre-forward.
Of course, price-tag is the predominant issue. Now that his buy-out fee has been exonerated, Dortmund could realistically demand anything up to £50million for the 5 foot 11 attacker.
Few Bundesliga defenders will strike better value for money this summer than Schalke skipper Benedikt Howedes.
He’s at best upon the peripheries of world football’s centre-back elite but the 26 year-old is famed for being a true defensive all-rounder, equally comfortable at right-back, left-back, centre-half and even defensive midfield.
The 6 foot 2 defender also boasts a wealth of experience at the top end of the game, with 53 appearances in European competitions and 32 caps for Germany under his belt – for whom he served as a left back during their successful World Cup bid last summer.
Throw in Howedes’ natural leadership qualities, having served as Miners captain since 2011, and a release clause of just £12.5million, and he seems like an absolute steal.
If there’s one lingering criticism, however, it’s that the Mannschaft defender would only improve Arsenal’s squad – not their starting Xi.
Arsenal find themselves riddled by a goalkeeping conundrum as they enter the summer transfer window. David Ospina has performed well since taking the first team mantle from Wojciech Szczesny in January but is there enough evidence to suggest he should be the Gunners’ permanent No.1?
One Bundesliga-based solution already suggested by the tabloids comes in the form of Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno, who put in some fantastic Champions League performances earlier this season.
Domestically too, the former Germany U21 has claimed the second-most clean sheets of any goalkeeper in the division (after Bayern’s Manuel Neuer) with 16 from 34 appearances – alongside an impressive 69 saves.
At 23 years of age, Leno is bursting with top class potential – and one only need look at the most recent goalies to emerge from the Mannschaft conveyor belt, Neuer and Germany understudy Marc Andre ter Stegen, to consider the extremities his talents could reach in a few years time.
According to The Express, his Leverkusen contract includes an incredibly reasonable £13million release clause. But whether Leno would solve Arsenal’s goalkeeping situation or further complicate it remains open to interpretation.
Amid rumours Nacho Monreal could be returning to La Liga this summer, Arsenal may suddenly find themselves in need of a new left-back.
Undoubtedly one of the best in the business across Europe at this moment in time is Wolfsburg’s Ricardo Rodriguez, who boasts eleven goals and 13 assists in his last 60 Bundesliga outings.
As you may have guessed from his impressive haul, the 22 year-old is the definition of the in-vogue ‘false full-backs’, who offer as much going forward than they do in defence and have the stamina to marshal entire flanks for the best part of 90 minutes.
The Switzerland international, who also bagged two assists at last summer’s World Cup, undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of him, and he’s already caught the attention of Manchester United and Liverpool amongst others.
It will cost an arm and a leg to prize him away from the Volkswagen arena this summer, however. The attacking full-back has already been rated at £25million by the tabloids, but with four years remaining on his contract Die Wolfe could charge considerably more.
An audacious suggestion perhaps, but I believe signing Javi Martinez would singlehandedly transform Arsenal back into regular Premier League title winners.
The Bayern Munich enforcer represents everything the Gunners lack in the middle of the park – height, power, strength, aggression and natural defensive awareness – yet he’s also blessed with all the technical quality you’d expect from a Spain international plying his trade in a Pep Guardiola side.
Arsenal attempted to prize the 6 foot 3 battering ram away from the Allianz Arena last summer, according to The Telegraph, but they could find better luck in the coming transfer window.
After all, the 26 year-old has spent the majority of the current season out injured and the Bavarians have hardly struggled in his absence – in fact, they signed Mehdi Benatia and Xabi Alonso last summer precisely to fill his void.
Even so, widely regarded as one of the top defensive midfielders in world football – also capable of playing at centre-back – Bayern could command anything upwards of £30million for Martinez this summer.