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Best Bundesliga newcomers of 2021

Sat 05 March 2022 | 11:30

Although the league is without David Alaba and Jadon Sancho in 2022, there is plenty of intrigue about last year arrivals such as Dominik Szoboszlai, Donyell Malen, and Lukas Nmecha. Read on to find out more about the best Bundesliga newcomers of 2021.

Bundesliga clubs were busy recruiting new faces, with Donyell Malen, Rafael Santos Borre, Omar Richards, Stevan Jovetic, and Caden Clark, some of the new faces that fans should keep an eye out for in 2021/22.

Therefore, Bayern Leverkusen,

Borussia Dortmund

, and the rest of the Bundesliga teams will be turning out in fine style in 2022.

In general, the Bundesliga teams have employed some of the best players the sport has ever seen. Hungarian international, Dominik Szoboszlai, was linked with a move throughout the autumn but close to the January window, it was revealed that despite interest from

Mikel Arteta

, he had chosen to move to RB Leipzig.

Moreover, Borussia Dortmund completed the signing of Netherlands forward, Donyell Malen, from

PSV Eindhoven

on a five-year contract. The 22-year-old arrived following the departure of Jadon Sancho to Manchester United for €85 million.

Eintracht Frankfurt also completed the signing of Colombia international striker, Rafael Santos Borre, on a four-year deal.

Best Bundesliga newcomers of 2021:

The Covid-19 pandemic meant trading was rather limited in the previous two transfer windows, but in view of the talent that joined, re-joined, or switched within the Bundesliga in 2021, it was most certainly a case of quality over quantity.

We take a look at the most remarkable Bundesliga newcomers of 2021 now.

Amine Adli

  • Full name: Amine Adli

  • Date of birth/Age: 10 May 2000 (age 21)

  • Nationality: France

  • Main Position: Winger

  • Team: Bayer Leverkusen

As one of the

best Bundesliga newcomers of 2021

,

Amine Adli

was transferred to German club Bayer Leverkusen from Ligue 2 club, Toulouse FC, signing a five-year contract on 26 August 2021, worth €7.5 million. A number he proved that was rather cheap, being able to play in all attacking positions and having a steady performance in all of them and competing with his teammates.

Adli has scored 4 times and assisted 3 times during 29 games with Die Werkself. A number that needs to be increased if he wants to play more. So far this season, he has played almost 60% of the time while he was never injured.

At first, he seemed to have a hard time synchronizing with German football. Gerardo Seoane, Leverkusen’s manager, used Adli little by little and usually as a substitute in the second half during his first months but he started to connect more and more with the team’s tactics and finally got his full 90-minute match on October 3rd during a 4-0 win.

Only days after he scored his first goal for the club on 30 September 2021 in a UEFA Europa League group stage match against

Celtic

; a 90th minute goal to round off another 4-0 win.

The French attacker is a fantastic ball carrier. He is incredibly agile and changes direction and speed with ease, which enables him to maximize tight spaces superbly.

He knows exactly how to get his body over the ball, how to lower himself, and how to subtly adjust his body angles so that, at a moment’s notice, he can burst onto the inside or outside of his opponent.

Although a lack of physicality can impact his ability to protect the ball around the outside, this is less so the case from the wings. The aforementioned points are all just as strong, here, but combine with the fact that he uses his weaker foot to better adjust the path of the ball to weave through inside gaps more precisely.

Lukas Nmecha

  • Full name: Lukas Nmecha

  • Date of birth/Age: 14 December 1998 (age 23)

  • Nationality: Germany

  • Main Position: Striker

  • Team: VfL Wolfsburg

During a football tournament at his primary school team in Wythenshawe, he was scouted by

Manchester City

, where he played for their youth ranks for over a decade.

But, after 4 loan spells at Preston North End, VfL Wolfsburg, Middlesbrough, and Anderlecht,

Nmecha

re-joined VfL Wolfsburg in a permanent deal on 16 July 2021 for €8 million.

It was his performance last season at Anderlecht that persuaded Wolfsburg board members to bring back their countryman. He scored 21 goals in 41 matches for the Belgian sides.

His second spell at Volkswagen Arena started quite well. His season debut was against Hertha on August 21st, where he came in as a substitute on the 70th minute and scored only 18 minutes later, a promising start.

He has seen a few ups and downs this season; at first, he was usually a substitute player who came in late but since mid-October, he played 685 minutes from the possible 720 minutes until his unfortunate ankle injury back in December.

Since the injury, he has not been able to play. Nevertheless, he has scored 8 goals this season, 6 in Bundesliga and 2 in the Champions League.

Born in Hamburg to a German mother and a Nigerian father, but raised in England, Nmecha is eligible to play for Nigeria, Germany, and England.

He has played for England from U16s until U21s, but finally, he decided to play for Germany’s senior national team. He made his debut for the senior national team on 11 November 2021 in a World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein.

Nmecha's main position is as a center-forward, but he is also able to play as a winger on either side. He is known for being comfortable with both feet and for his first touch and finishing abilities.

He also likes to use his pace to run at defenders, as we have seen numerously this season. The wolves rely on their young player to return very soon so they can improve their current 12th place in Bundesliga.

Jesper Lindstrøm

  • Full name: Jesper Grænge Lindstrøm

  • Date of birth/Age: 29 February 2000 (age 21)

  • Nationality: Denmark

  • Main Position: Attacking Midfield

  • Team: Eintracht Frankfurt

On 11 July 2021, it was announced via official channels that

Jesper Lindstrøm

had signed with Bundesliga club

Eintracht Frankfurt

on a five-year contract for €7 million.

This was his first experience outside Denmark since he started his career at Bröndby Youth and continued at the same club in different academy stages and senior team from 2015. Last season he scored 10 goals and provided 11 assists in 29 games and his performances earned him a ticket to the German football top tier.

Jesper’s favorite position is attacking midfield since he can have freedom of movement. Although, in his first few months, he usually played as a winger for the eagles. It took him some time to adapt to German football but as he did so, and the coach started to play him as an attacking midfielder, things started to escalate.

In his second game as an AM, he scored one of the two goals against Freiburg. His best period, however, came in December; scoring in three consecutive games.

He scored against Leverkusen and Mainz, and between these games he scored and assisted versus Borussia Mönchengladbach, earning him his first “Man of the match” in Bundesliga.

Lindstrøm describes his game as such, "In general I like to play upfront but can also play on the wings. I’ve got a strong shot on me from distance and I like to link up play in the penalty area."

A man that also loves to run at defenders and sank them to the floor with a drop of the shoulder, drifting between the lines and making it nigh-on impossible for opposition defenders to keep tabs on his movement.

Lindstrom still has some maturing to do physically and mentally; however, he is on track to be the latest Bundesliga export to move for big money to pastures new.

Lindstrøm has all the workings of a top-level success and a player who enjoys a long spell at the top both for his nation and club; however, he should keep this Danish saying in his mind, “Det bedste er det godes fjende” (The good is the enemy of the best).

Kouadio Koné

  • Full name: Emmanuel Kouadio Koné

  • Date of birth/Age: 17 May 2001 (age 20)

  • Nationality: France

  • Main Position: Central Midfield

  • Team: Borussia Mönchengladbach

On 21 January 2021,

Borussia Mönchengladbach

announced the signing of

Koné

on a deal running until 2025, while also confirming that he would finish the 2020–21 season at Toulouse, where he finished 3rd in Ligue 2 in the club.

Although he dealt with a ligament injury in his first month with his new club, he began to play in the starting line-up very soon and so far, he has started 70% of the time for The Colts.

Koné scored his first goal for Gladbach in a 5–0 DFB-Pokal win over Bayern Munich on 27 October 2021, in his 6th game with his new club.

This season he has scored 3 goals in all competitions and provided 1 assist to his teammates. One of his best performances came in November in a 4-0 win against Greuther Fürth; having played 88 minutes, 88% pass accuracy, 2 key passes, 11 recoveries, and 62% ground duels, and 67% aerial duels won. Astonishing performance for the 20-year old.

Kouadio is a special talent, his physicality backs up his stamina and power inside the field but those are not the only aspects of his game. He is also very smart in-game reading and anticipation of his opponents’ moves in one-on-one situations.

His mates compare him with French legend, Patrick Vieira, although Koné has a long road ahead of himself if he wants to be as great as Pat. While never playing for France's senior national team, Koné is very hopeful that his performances continue to grow so he might have a chance to be a part of France in the lucrative Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Jeremie Frimpong

  • Full name: Jeremie Agyekum Frimpong

  • Date of birth/Age: 10 December 2000 (age 21)

  • Nationality: Netherlands

  • Main Position: Right-back

  • Team: Bayer Leverkusen

On 27 January 2021, Frimpong signed for the German side

Bayer Leverkusen

for an estimated €4 million fee, on a four and a half year deal. After half a season of adapting and experiencing German football, the Dutch youngster blossoms into one the most reliable right-backs in German football.

He has started in every single Bundesliga game this season in the line-up and his steady performance backs up this decision by the coach. He is now worth more than €20 million and a hot prospect for top-tier Europe giants.

Frimpong

is having a phenomenal season so far, scoring twice in Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal, while assisting 6 times in Bundesliga and twice in Europe League. He is one of the main reasons why Leverkusen is sitting in the 3rd place of Bundesliga for the first time since the 2015/16 season.

He is not only an additional help in attacks, but also a brick wall in defense, making 31 clearances and winning 17 interceptions for his team. He has also made 29 key passes this season, an average of almost 1 key pass per game.

Frimpong’s style of play meshes well with Seoane’s, who likes to operate in central areas due to his strong ability in tight spaces. This means that Frimpong has free reign over the wide-right zone.

Frimpong can also burst into space, and either hit whipped early cross towards the far post, or he can carry the ball into the penalty area himself, and find a teammate closer to him, leading him to become more accurate with his chance creation.

Frimpong displays promise in his progressive passing, but upon further viewing, basic issues with his passing pop up frequently. The weight of his passing is a bit inconsistent.

Although, this seems to be a problem with composure more so than any lacking technical ability, so this should improve with game time. Frimpong contends for a low number of defensive duels, but he wins a high proportion of them. He is not small per se, but Frimpong’s slight frame does leave him somewhat disadvantaged in one-on-one duels defensively.

He is a unique talent that has already caught the eyes of Bayern Munich,

Barcelona

, Milan, and Real Madrid’s scouts as a potential signing.

If he wishes to fulfill his dreams, he needs to keep his composure high and deliver consistent performances like this season. He lacks nothing but experience and only time will tell how high we can see this Dutch gem reach in his football career.

Joško Gvardiol

  • Full name: Joško Gvardiol

  • Date of birth/Age: 23 January 2002 (age 20)

  • Nationality: Croatia

  • Main Position: Centre-back

  • Team: RB Leipzig

After 10 successful years at Dynamo Zagreb, winning 2 Creation league titles and 1 Croatian cup title,

Gvardiol

joined

RB Leipzig

on July 1st 2021 for €18 million. He described the transfer, “a pathway onto becoming one of the best defenders in Europe”.

Leipzig has been known in the past few years for their talent scouting and signing future starts at an early age, a philosophy that has made them one of the best teams in German football and they are thrilled to see a player of Gvardiol’s caliber help them challenge Bayern Munich dominance in Bundesliga

Gvardiol made his Bundesliga debut on 20 August 2021 in a 4–0 victory over VfB Stuttgart, playing the entire match. Although he prefers to play in the heart of defense, he spent his first month in the club playing as a left-back.

But starting from late September, he was switched to his favorite position as a center back. He has played 32 games so far this season in four different competitions and despite not expecting from him, he has scored twice as well as assisting twice in his new club, all in Bundesliga where he has started 88% of the time in the starting line-up.

Gvardiol is only 20, but everyone on the team is surprised with his mature talks and motivations towards other teammates. Also, with 185 cm height, he is a thread on every attacking opportunity and a wall on defensive aerial duels.

He has a combination of pace and power in his play that is rarely seen between defenders at his age. Some people compare his style of play with the early days of Giorgio Chiellini, an Italian veteran, at

Juventus

. Currently estimated at €25 million, he is catching a lot of attention these days.

Attentions which are predicted to skyrocket in the coming months as he is currently one of the first choices for the Croatian national team in Qatar 2022. Having a proper campaign in the tournament can immensely increase his chances of playing for even better teams in Europe.

Patrick Wimmer

  • Full name: Patrick Wimmer

  • Date of birth/Age: 30 May 2001 (age 20)

  • Nationality: Austria

  • Main Position: Right Winger

  • Team: Arminia Bielefeld

One of the best bargains during summer transfers last season was without a doubt,

Patrick Wimmer

. Costing only €700 thousand for

Bielefeld

to purchase from Austria Vienna.

The increase in his market value to €4 million is just one illustration of the impact the Austrian has been having on The Blues. He can play as both left and right winger and midfielder, as well as attacking midfield. His main position this season, however, has been a right-winger.

He started his first two matches on the bench and not a single playtime. On his debut, he showed what a bad decision that was from the coach to not play him.

He needed only 5 minutes to put his mark on the game, coming in at 81st minute and scoring on 86th, finishing the game with a tie and giving his team an important home point against Eintracht Frankfurt.

From then on, he turned himself into a regular player, playing in every single 20 matches afterward. He scored 2 more times in Bundesliga and also made 9 assists to his teammates during this time.

His best performances came against Bochum and away game against Eintracht Frankfurt, where he scored and assisted during two 2-0 wins, 100% goal contribution, and “Man of the match” in both of them.

Clinical, might be the best word to describe Wimmer’s game style. He constantly makes the correct decisions in the field, he is calm and composed, he has an incredible vision of the game and he is fearless when it comes to shooting and dribbling.

Not to mention his 182cm height is another thread in his game. If he can improve his defensive abilities, increase his stamina and physicality, he has a very good chance to be mentioned in the conversation for the next transfer windows between Europe’s giants.

Rafael Borré

  • Full name: Rafael Santos Borré Maury

  • Date of birth/Age: 15 September 1995 (age 26)

  • Nationality: Colombia

  • Main Position: Forward

  • Team: Eintracht Frankfurt

The first over 25-year old in this article so far is Rafael Borré. After 4 successful seasons at River Plate, including Copa Libertadores title in 2018, Borré joined German club Eintracht Frankfurt on 5 July 2021 as a free agent.

He had a bitter-sweet debut with the eagles, he started in the line-up in the season opener game of this season’s Bundesliga at Westfalen Stadium against Borussia Dortmund and even had an assist to his name, but the game ended 5-2 in favor of the home team. The rest of the season went rather smoothly for the Colombian.

As one of the

Bundesliga players of the season

, Borré is the coach’s first option as a Centre-forward, starting the league 88% of the time and Borré responded to his coach’s trust with 7 goals and 6 assists in 31 games in all competitions. At first, just like many in this list, he struggled to adapt to German football, but eventually, he started to shine.

His peak performance so far goes back to December when he scored and assisted 5 times in 4 games as he closed 2021. It is worth mentioning that he opened 2022 with 2 goals against Dortmund, continuing his run of influencing every game.

Rafael Borré is very active with his off-the-ball movement and always wants to make a run in behind while drifting wide. While he is not as tall as some of the other players at the club, Rafael Borré still wins most second balls in the air, which helps his team retain valuable possession in the final third.

An absolute menace for defenders, Borré is an aggressive presser of the ball while also making sure to not give away any fouls in dangerous areas.

Donyell Malen

  • Full name: Donyell Malen

  • Date of birth/Age: 19 January 1999 (age 23)

  • Nationality: Netherlands

  • Main Position: Striker

  • Team: Borussia Dortmund

On 27 July 2021,

Malen

, after an incredible season with PSV Eindhoven in which he score 19 goals, completed a move to Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, signing a five-year deal for €30 million.

He was initially bought as a substitute for Erling Haaland, but since Haaland had to go through a lot of injuries this season, Malen proved himself worthy of being a starter and has started the game 75% of the time in Bundesliga this season.

He is not exactly what you can call a “goal-scoring machine”, like Haaland, but Malen’s contribution to his team is definitely one of the main reasons we see Dortmund in the title race this season.

As one of the

best Bundesliga newcomers of 2021

, Malen has played the majority of his game time as a striker, replacing Haaland. But, he has also shown that he can be used alongside the Norwegian beast, while playing 11 games as a left winger.

In total, he has played 23 games in Bundesliga this season and impacted 10 goals directly, 4 goals and 6 assists. He scored in two consecutive games in Bundesliga late in November against

Stuttgart

and Wolfsburg, both games ended with a victory for The BVB.

Malen is a quick, technically proficient modern attacker who is not too dependent on others to create chances in the final third and who is comfortable using either foot to score goals. One thing that makes Malen stand out against Bundesliga defenses is his speed.

Although he is naturally a striker, his speed enables him to identify the space in-behind and uses his pace to exploit it. While his stats in Germany may not show this yet, but he is a very deadly finisher, too.

At 23 years of age, Donyell Malen is continuing to prove just why he is one of the hottest prospects in not Europe now. Dortmund’s coach, Marco Rose, has also mentioned that he is more than happy with Malen and will look forward to seeing him link up with Haaland as they’ll reach the most important period of this season in the next months.

Dominik Szoboszlai

  • Full name: Dominik Szoboszlai

  • Date of birth/Age: 25 October 2000 (age 21)

  • Nationality: Hungary

  • Main Position: Left Winger

  • Team: RB Leipzig

On 17 December 2020, RB Leipzig announced the signing of

Szoboszlai

on a four-and-a-half-year contract, until June 2025 with a reported price of €22 million, Szoboszlai became the most expensive Hungarian player in history.

However, Szoboszlai could not feature in any match for RB Leipzig in the 2020–21 season due to a long-term injury He finally debuted on 7 August 2021 in a German Cup game against SV Sandhausen where he entered the pitch in the 78th minute and scored only three minutes later. Talk about instant impact.

Szoboszlai’s performances became even more interesting as scored a brace at his second game in a 4-0 win over Stuttgart. So far this season, he has scored 8 times in 3 competitions, including 2 goals in the lucrative Champions League.

As one of the

best Bundesliga newcomers of 2021

, Szoboszlai provided his teammates with 6 assists to showcase his abilities as a player maker.

However the performances are consistent, his playing position is not, he has played 29 games in 6 different positions; 10 games as a right winger or right midfield, 13 matches as a central midfield or attacking midfield, 2 games as right midfield and even a game as a striker.

These changes, with respect to his manager, might be the reason we are yet to see the full potential of a player that was in the conversation to join

Real Madrid

.

Szoboszlai has emerged as one of the game’s brightest creative prospects — a player whose technical and tactical abilities are primed for the possession-based, high-pressing approach that’s adopted by most elite European clubs.

He is usually on the left side of 2 strikers and he loves to drift into midfield. This is why some believe he can operate as an “8”.

He also likes to drift into the little half-space between to enhance his passing possibilities. His vision and preciseness might be the best aspects of his game. We might be putting him in the conversation as one of the best playmakers in Europe if he is given a few more years to gain experience.

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