By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

January Transfer Window 2022: The Complete German Bundesliga Transfer Primer

With the start of the European transfer window just hours away, we're pleased to publish our annual comprehensive primer for the entire league here at Bulinews.

The team sections this year begin with composite grades for each club's previous transfer class, assessed using European scale grades (top marks to bottom on a scale from 1 to 6).

We then take a look at the sparsely used players being shopped for loans (and in some cases sales) via a club's "Dead-Weight Ledger".

Next, we'll list all the club's players on expiring contracts before finally listing all the various rumors about potential arrivals.

Analysis proceeds in the current order of the league table at the Christmas break.
The January 2022 European transfer window commences in a short 48 hours. Many German football clubs have already pulled the trigger on moves scheduled to be officially cemented on Saturday. Germany, France, and England all officially open the transfer market on that date, with Italy and France settling for Monday, January 3rd as the first day of business.

As in years prior, Germany will be the first country to officially close the window at 11:00 a.m. Central European Time on Monday, January 31st. Italy follows at 13:00 Central European Standard. England, Spain, and France close later on in the evening. Smaller European countries such as Austria, Switzerland, and numerous Eastern states remain open for arrivals for a few extra days, but registration for all arrivals in the "big five" European countries closes in precisely 33 days.

Just as we did last year on this date, we're pleased to supply a full primer for the coming window here on Bulinews. We'll head down the league table in order to assess the status of all 18 top-flight Bundesliga clubs. Further explanation of our sections can be found in this article's introduction. And so, without further ado, let's delve into how it's looking for everyone.

FC Bayern München

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = -€54 million 

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 3,0

Bayern's summer transfer class grade gets weighted down somewhat by the inconsistencies shown by Dayot Upamecano, as well as the sparse usage of Marcel Sabitzer and Omar Richards. None of that is to suggest that Hasan Salihamdizic hasn't done his job well. The amount of talent pulled in by the club during the offseason will eventually find their stride. Furthermore, Bayern did a splendidly effective job of gutting their nearest challengers, 2020/21 second-place finishers RB Leipzig.

This brings us to perhaps the most important transfer of the offseason: Julian Nagelsmann. Indeed, the young coach got a grade in this calculus as well. The 34-year-old qualifies as an "1+" transfer. When the FCB spent the millions to ply Nagelsmann away from Saxony, most of us German football watchers assumed the 10th, 11th, and 12th consecutive Bundesliga titles now essentially belonged to the Bavarians. At this point, the 10th straight Meisterschale looks to be about wrapped up.

Bayern find themselves with little to do and nothing to prove during this transfer window. The quality gap between the record champions and the rest of the league remains staggering. Pretty much anyone who paid close attention to the Hin-runde will concede this. The FCB might in engage in some straight swap upgrades, but large deals can probably be ruled out. To tinker too much with the team's superior quality--not to mention its comparatively healthy financial situation--constitutes a needless risk.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Bouna Sarr (RB), Omar Richards (LB), Michaël Cuisance (CM), Marc Roca (DM) Kingsley Coman (RW) 

Bayern's official active squad list stands at 26 players, meaning there are few actors the club will consider parking elsewhere. With the Champions' League group stage over with, however, Nagelsmann shall not really have any low-worth matches to test drive young talents. It is such that we might see loan outs for Richards, Cuisance, and maybe Roca.

Sarr and Coman definitely aren't going anywhere unless the club can secure a direct upgrade. We might see Sarr quietly offloaded if the FCB can get the Sergino Dest deal done. A successful capture of Raphina or another winger likely serves as the only way that Kingsley Coman will be on the move.

Expiring contracts =  Niklas Süle (CB), Corentin Tolisso (CM)

It doesn't look as if the FCB front office wishes to invest more in extended the contracts of either one of these players. The squad is, in essence, built for a future without them. To cash in on either Süle or Tolisso doesn't appear a wise option either as both can still help the team coast in the league and complete in the Champions' League.

Further Needs = CB, RB, RW, CF

A lot of the usual names crop up in the rumor mills. Nagelsmann could use another striker and maybe one more fullback and winger option. The young trainer may already have a serviceable third-choice striker in the form of one of his youth academy products. Moreover, the current 3-4-2-1 can get along just fine without an extra fullback or even traditional wingers. We might see a very quiet window here.

Rumored Links = Thilo Kehrer (CB), Sergino Dest (RB), Raphinha (RW), Ousmane Dembele (RW), Julian Alvarez (CF), Adam Hlozek (CF) 

Borussia Dortmund

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = +€58 million

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 3,75

When it comes to the BVB's summer transfer class, the league's second wealthiest club got their goalkeeping situation sorted out. Gregor Kobel's presence actually makes a huge difference. Marco Rose's Schwarzgelben have conceded four more goals than they did at this point last year, but a plus-five points haul has much to do with the improved presence between the sticks. No chance this team would have 11 victories without Kobel carrying them in many matches.

Donyell Malen's three-goal league haul simply isn't good enough. Even if the Dutch striker has really improved lately, Malen's three league tallies doesn't offset the loss of Jadon Sancho's pace. Marco Rose has probably lost 8-10 tallies thanks to the injuries affecting Giovanni Reyna, Raphaël Guerreiro, and even Youssoufa Moukoko. Of course, that trio dealt with injury problems last season too. Things like this need to be considered during pre-season planning.

It didn't necessarily surprise to see Wolfsburg loanee have difficulty adjusting at the club. What does surprise involves according Marco Rose a below average grade for his first-half season with the Bundesliga's also-rans. Most of us regarded Rose as a highly competent "can't miss appointment". Twenty-five competitive fixtures in, it doesn't look as if the former RB Salzburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach trainer has a firm grip on this team, lost alone some sort of coherent thesis for the football he wishes to see. Virtually no one saw this coming.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Roman Bürki (GK), Nico Schulz (LB), Felix Passlack (RB), Reinier (DM), Ansgar Knauff (LW)

The BVB find themselves in the very unfortunate place of having players to ditch (Roman Bürki, Nico Schulz, and even Axel Witsel) who attract practically no interest from anyone and possess practically no market value either. The club must be careful about parking potential loan-outs with Bundesliga competitors too. This year's Schwarzgelben have a palpable overachieving feeling to them. They could easily finish in fourth again.

Expiring contracts =  Marcel Schmelzer (LB), Axel Witsel (DM)

Witsel could potentially fetch a little money if, as has been reported, the club has been working to find a prospective buyer for some time. Not that cash flow is really the problem with this club. No Bundesliga organization has proved more adept at "flipping" young talents than this one in the last decade. Dortmund know how to turn a profit. They just don't seem to know how to keep a competitive keel in the league.

Further Needs = CB, LB, RB, DM, RW, ATTM, CF

Oh, they need everything. This squad is so poorly built it's not even funny. The whispers and rumors cropping up offer little other than the same youth prospect targeting we've been hearing for months. That part of the window remains fairly predictable. The reserves will get a few more players. Some BVB II players will get pro contracts.

As for practical signings for the first team, the capture of defensive midfielder/decent center back fill-in Denis Zakaria from Borussia Mönchengladbach probably counts as a given. A second CB from another Bundesliga club seems likely. Many German football watchers (including this one) think that Karim Adeyemi will eventually come to the conclusion that Dortmund is the logical next step. So much speaks for the move.

All of that leaves the team well enough tooled to secure a top-four finish. That's all that's needed this year. To make a big financial play for winning a league already on the cusp of being out of sight makes no sense. Note that if the title race somehow gets revived in January, the calculus on that could shift. Most of don't expect that this will happen.

Rumored Links = Becir Omeragic (CB), Konstantinos Mavropanos (CB), Mika Marmol (CB), Niklas Stark (CB), Nico Schlotterbeck (CB), Denis Zakaria (DM), Yusuf Demir (RW), Jobe Bellingham (RW), Ivan Perisic (LW), Jakub Kaminski (LW), Everton (LW) Giogian de Arrascaeta (ATTM), Hakim Ziyech (ATTM), Karim Adeyemi (CF), Adam Hlozek (CF)

SC Freiburg

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = +€8 million

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 2,5

The outsider upstarts that everyone's truly happy for didn't have much of a summer transfer window class to score. Maximilian Eggestein for Baptiste Santamaria even felt like a downgrade to most. The signing of little interest surprised by playing better than his predecessor. Note that we've had to adjust the summer transfer balance a bit from what appeared in the autumn transfer scorecard piece. The Hugo Siquet purchase combined with the Dominque Heintz sale knocks the number down a bit.

When it comes to the Breisgauer, the grand proclamation that this team could contend might not appear so farfetched when one considers that the Bayern loss and subsequent hard luck fall to Frankfurt got the team off the confidence rails a bit. Those six points aren't even the issue. One can find a further seven if one flips the losses to Bochum and Hoffenheim and then turns the Union Berlin draw into a win. With just a bit more consistency, this very solid team could still be in the title race. Third-place at the winter break is even beneath the team's current talent level.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Jonathan Schmid (RB), Kimberly Ezekwen (DM)

Not much room for a dead-weight ledger on a 26-man active roster. The squad is simply too small to park the many talented youth prospects called up this summer elsewhere. Kiliann Sildillia and Kevin Schade even have roles on the first team. Perhaps Nishan Burkart or Noah Weißhaupt might be loaned out. If Nico Schlotterbeck gets picked up by one of the big clubs, everyone is going to have to stay put.

Expiring Contracts = Keven Schlotterbeck (CB) Lukas Kübler (RB), Janik Haberer (CM), Nils Petersen (CF)

We could see a couple of sales here. The Schwarzwaldverein can hardly afford to extend more than two of these four expiring contracts. It could thus be prudent to secure some funds for Kübler or Haberer. Both would make fine additions to several Bundesliga clubs looking for help at their positions. Joachim Saier, Klemens Hartenbach, and the rest of the SCF front office will likely attempt to extend with those two before trying to sell them.

Further Needs =  CB, LW, CF

A name or two crops up in the rumor mills, but there doesn't appear to be any real incoming action on the Freiburg front. A South Korean youngster by the name of Ji-Han Lee might be signed to the youth squad in the coming days. The team remains well-built enough to parlay the positive Hin-runde into a top-seven finish.

This would fulfill the club's objectives for the year and bring in some extra revenue with European Football at the new "Europa Park Stadion" next season. The SCF will be more than satisfied with top-seven. Many of the rest of us won't. This year's Schwarzwälder could have been much better; perhaps even a phenomenon for the ages.

Oh well. It is what it is. At least we'll get a few more Christian Streich "puff pieces" in the tactics column before the year is out.

Rumored Links = Fatih Kurucuk (CB), Kerem Aktürkoglu (LW), Ji-Han Lee (LW)

Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = -€8 million

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 2,5

Germany's red company team remains pretty well stocked from the Autumn transfer window. As non-50+1 permitted "company teams", both Leverkusen and Wolfsburg, unlike corona-stricken clubs hurting from the lack of gate receipts, had extra corporate cash to spend during the offseason. Bayer proven that they knew how to direct their funds to effective signings. Wolfsburg we'll get to in a bit. Suffice to say that the green company team crashed the (VW) bus.

Robert Andrich stands a few disciplinary point deductions away from being a perfect signing. The veteran midfield anchor quickly established himself as the type of presence this club was sorely missing during the Peter Bosz years. Amine Adli, Mitchel Bakker, and Piero Hincapie have all done really well too. If someone had told this columnist that those four signings would have six league goals among them at the halfway mark, he would have labelled the prognosticator nuts.

Add a solid--if unspectacular Odilon Kossounou into the graded pack and one has one of the best transfer classes in the entire league over the past four years. The final score doesn't even take phenoms like Iker Bravo and Zidan Sertdemir into account as their first team appearances have been far too limited. We should be hearing plenty from both of them in the coming years. Both have a respective foot firmly in the door of the senior squad locker room at this point.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Paulo "Paulinho" Filho (SS)

Surprisingly little in terms of parkable freight on this 30-man active roster. Trainer Gerardo Seoane really needs everyone for his Europa League rotations. Getting the B04 Paulinho some confidence-building minutes elsewhere seems like a good idea. The 21-year-old has gotten trials at various positions without getting a chance to discover his best one. Apart from that, there really isn't a good loan candidate here.

Expiring Contracts = Niklas Lomb (GK), Panagiotis Retsos (CB), Julian Baumgartlinger (DM)

It should prove interesting to see how Panagiotis Retsos does in some auditions with Koussounou and Edmond Tapsoba away at the Africa Cup of Nations. This counts as a make-or-break career moment for the once highly touted Greek prospect. That's about all there is of interest on this front, where there's no renewal need or market for the other two actors.

Further Needs = CB, CF, CM

There's some chatter about the club selling off Lucas Alario and possibly purchasing one or two strikers in preparation for the inevitable Patrik Schick departure. While this certainly isn't impossible at this stage, maneuvers like this appear far more likely to take place over the summer. Sporting director Simon Rolfes is on record as stating that the club isn't planning any acquisitions during the January period.

Rumored Links = Diego Almeida (CB), Kacper Kozlowski (CM), Yusuf Demir (RW), Kardeel Kanga (AM), Julian Alvarez (CF), Eddie Nketiah (CF)

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = +€1 million 

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 1,75

Chris Richards, David Raum, and Angelo Stiller together account for this incredible summer transfer grade, even though Richards basically secured his renewed loan out himself, Hoffenheim's strong start to the campaign also owes much to loan returnee Jacob Bruun Larsen and the officially purchased Sebastian Rudy, neither of whom count to the score. Strictly speaking, Stiller shouldn't count either as he was captured last winter on a delayed transfer.

Well. Anyway. The writer at least found some addition info to convey about this club, the success of which does receive plenty of (teeth gritting) coverage here on Bulinews. Those of us who placed Sebastian Hoeneß on the coaching hot seat at the beginning of the campaign deservedly look like fools. Uli's nephew, thanks to some extended patience from club management, has put together a very good team that should finish top-seven easily. Germans shall have little choice but to root for them in Europe next season.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Kasim Adams (CB), Joshua Brenet (RB), Melayro Bogarde (DM), Mijat Gacinovic (ATTM), Marco John (LW)

A 33-man-roster brims with loan candidates. Several of these players have expressed their desire to leave over the window. As usual, the club finds itself in no hurry to get them off the payroll. There technically isn't such a thing as "roster bloat" when "Uncle Dietmar" pays the bills. One nice thing one can say about this club and its management is that they never hesitate to spread the love around the Bundesliga, so to speak.

It's quite possible that all of these players and more will get loaned out or even outright sold to direct competitors. One won't see Dortmund do that with their young talent. Here we have one advantage to having a "Sugar Daddy" club in the Bundesliga. The Sinsheimers aren't an evil entity by any means. Just a distasteful one.

Expiring Contracts = Kevin Vogt (CB), Havard Nordtveit (CB), Ermin Bicakcic (CB), Benjamin Hübner (CB), Florian Grillitsch (DM), Andrej Kramaric (CF)

Here's a disadvantage to having a club like this in the league. A more traditional one would certainly consider selling off some of these players during the coming window. The Kraichgauer don't need to as they can well afford to let these contracts run down whilst continuing to chase their league goals for the season. As a result, it doesn't appear as if we'll get a chance to see Florian Grillitsch and Andrej Kramaric play elsewhere until next season.

Neither Grillitsch nor Kramaric appear interested in extending. The club itself doesn't have much reason to court its older players, meaning Bundesliga familiars from the past decade like Harvard Nordtveit, Kevin Vogt, Ermin Bickacic, and even current club captain Benjamin Hübner may be confronted with the retirement quandary.

Further Needs = DM, CF

Really not a lot of chatter surfacing regarding Hoffenheim since it was reported the Kraichgauer, and several others, lost the race for HSV youngster Faride Alidou. Sporting director Alexander Rosen has spoken of a quiet window with "one or two departures, and probably no additions". Of course, club managers always tend to say this.

Rumored Links = (None)

Eintracht Frankfurt

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = +€19 million 

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 2,75

We arrive at the 2021/22 German Bundesliga's most interesting team of the Hin-runde. A mere seven weeks ago, the SGE wouldn't have received anywhere near such a good grade. The Adler of the country's commercial capital are now the talk of footballing circles across the Bundesrepublik. Head-coach Oliver Glasner seems to be the best pick of last summer's coaching carousel. Sporting director Markus Krösche's pickups of Raphael Santos Borré and Jesper Lindstrøm compete for the title of the summer's "most effective transfers".

So much can change in such a short time. Not all of Krösche's acquisitions were unequivocal winners. Kristijan Jakic has been at best an average fit in midfield. Jens Petter Hauge and Christopher Lenz haven't done particularly well in large part because of injury. They have nevertheless made their contributions. One could say that Sam Lammers proved something of a flop, even though too he's amassed four scorer points across all competitions. It predictably took some time for all of these new actors to gel. Eventually, they did. The SGE looks to be top four material.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Erik Durm (RB), Ajdin Hrustic (CM) Amin Younes (ATTM)

A fairly clear-cut set of business on Krösche's docket when it comes to reducing his 32-man-roster. The Amin Younes travesty needs to be dealt with and it would count as basic administrative competence to get some value for Hrustic and Durm. The Fabio Blanco affair is a different matter entirely. Kröasche would be best served by doing nothing there, though it doesn't appear it will shake out that way. 

The sporting director has given some other youth prospects--Martin Pecar, Gianluca Schäfer, Enrique Herrero and Jan Schröder--pro team contracts a bit early. Krösche should probably think about parking at least one of them on loan somewhere as a matter of payroll diligence.

Expiring Contracts = Danny da Costa (RB), Stefan Ilsanker (DM), Makoto Hasebe (DM), Aymen Barkok (ATTM)

Transfer rumors involving three of these four players are gaining prominence. The most likely candidate to definitely one on the move before the window concludes is Aymen Barkok, currently away on international duty for Morocco. Bundesliga diehards may interested to know that the club is confirmed to be negotiating with 37-year-old Makoto Hasebe for yet another one-year-deal. One of German football's legends isn't interested in hanging them up just yet.

Further Needs = RB, LB, CF

Most of the rumors concerning a new set of arrivals come from reliable sources. The same applies to the apparent forthcoming signing of Faride Alidou.   One can't imagine there will be much action on the arrival side here once these deals are completed. Credit Krösche for getting all of his ducks in a row early.

Rumored Links = Antony Caci (LB), Malthe Højholt (CM), Yusuf Demir (RW) Randal Kolo Muani (CF),  

1. FC Union Berlin

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = -€9 million 

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 2,0

Averaging out a transfer class grade for die Eisernen certainly proved a much longer arithmetical exercise. There were so many new arrivals to score. Fourteen (!!) of them to be precise. Looking back over the performances of a totally revamped side, the big surprise turned out to be how little the two of the more high profile transfers proved to be. Rick van Drongelen, Pawel Wszolek, and Tymoteusz Puchacz didn't even get a league grade. Paul Jaeckel barely factored in enough to get a 3,0.

Something that shouldn't surprise anyone entails the fact that pretty much everyone Oliver Ruhnert and Urs Fischer opted to bring on board ended up serving as effective upgrades. Those with the time/interest to do so should definitely go through the FCU transfer class with a fine-toothed comb. Kevin Behrens, Genki Haraguchi, Rani Khedira, and Levin Öztunali all proved excellent acquisitions. There's a lot to admire in the work of Andreas Voglsammmer as well. Even Bastian Oczipka has made a contribution.

We've often paid homage to the manner in which the Köpenickers are a football team built around an idea. There isn't terribly much more to add to that ultimate compliment.  As one can see from the transfer balance, the managerial team has them leveraged a bit high, even more so once one takes (as we have) the Dominque Heintz deal into account. This likely matters very little as the FCU can rely upon getting a lot back in the form of Rück-runde gate receipts.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Rick van Drongelen (CB), Paul Jaeckel (CB), Tymoteusz Puchacz (LB)

Two of the players mentioned above don't fit the normal mold of loan candidates. While one might not ordinarily think about parking assets such as these somewhere, it's fairly common in football to loan out big purchases back to their old clubs for extra practice. We saw Real Madrid do it last January with Luka Jovic. Leipzig just did it with Brian Brobbey.

A 31-man active roster remains far too large for a team no longer competing in Europe. Even flush with some gate receipts and probably a bunch of merchandising dough from global fans who like the cult look of this club, Ruhnert definitely needs to get this payroll reduced one way or another. The latest news, conveyed by Ruhnert in a Wednesday presser, definitely has van Drongelen on the move.

Expiring Contracts = Marvin Friedrich (CB), Robin Knoche (CB), Timo Baumgartl (CB), Niko Gießelmann (LB), Bastian Oczipka (LB), Grischa Prömel (CM), Max Kruse (LS), Anthony Ujah (CF), Suleiman Abdullahi (CF)

Expect to hear rumors involving Marvin Friedrich through the end of the transfer window. Union likely doesn't have the resources to resign him; particularly not when they have to through most of their capital behind a push to get Max Kruse a contract extension. Ruhnert might make an effort to keep Niko Gießelmann and Robin Knoche as well, or at least he should.

Further Needs = LW, CB

Die Eisernen can probably get through the entire window simply focusing on roster reduction, taking care of their replacement needs for next season with some proactive work this spring. That's the tack they've taken the last two seasons and there's no real reason to change it. One looks forward to seeing which tough-as-nails vets they scrape up for the next campaign.

Rumored Links = (None)

1. FC Köln

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = +€22 million 

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 2,0

Köln didn't really have an "Autumn transfer class". Dejan Ljubicic, who was purchased late last season by Horst Heldt. Anthony Modeste, Louis Schaub, and Kingsley Schindler simply returned from loan. Mark Uth got released from his Schalke contract following relegation, enabling his hometown club to pick him up on a free. Much as we all love Steffen Baumgart's "method acting", this was a club poised for a rebound after being hit with a hurricane of bad luck last season.

Ljubicic nevertheless counts as a very good signing. So does the quiet pickup of back-up keeper Marvin Schwäbe on a free in July. Much better injury luck aside, Baumgart has done tremendously well in reassembling the talent available at his disposal this year and we've paid plenty of tributes to him in the tactics column. The talk of luck was broached to remind everyone that die Geißböcke are on a bit of an overachieving high. They don't appear to be top-seven material. After the disaster that was the 2017/18 Europa League campaign, the organization may not want to be either.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Sava-Arangel Cestic (CB), Noah Katterbach (LB) Niklas Hauptmann (CM), Tim Lemperle (RW), Jan Thielmann (RW)

Plenty to park for the right takers. The 29-man active roster contains some excellent loan candidates. We might see some of these Germany U21 internationals get extra playing time with teams in the relegation race. There will be a lot of interest in both Katterbach and Thielmann from the rest of the league.

Expiring Contracts = Jannes Horn (LB), Benno Schmitz (RB), Louis Schaub (ATTM), Florian Kainz (LW)

Probably looks like the end of the line for all these players, even the very impressive Benno Schmitz. The Domstädter will still want to hold onto them for the season's second half. At this point, one just hopes they'll all still be playing football somewhere next season. Most, if not all, are probably headed to semi-retirement in other domestic leagues.

Further Needs = RW, LW

This definitely isn't the window for Köln to splurge on upgrades. They don't even have a sporting director. Christian Keller isn't scheduled to take office until April. The club also needs to focus on finding a new managing director after Alexander Wehrle's departure. Expect very little here.

Rumored Links = (None)

FSV Mainz 05

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = +€1 million 

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 2,5

Excellent work from Martin Schmidt and Christian Heidel during their first summer window back with the club. As noted in the last major transfer piece, the offseason additions constituted about as straightforward attempt to upgrade precisely in line with Bo Svensson's tactical needs as it gets. Jae-Sung Lee and Silvan Widmer have done a phenomenal job. Injuries have limited the impact of the Anderson Lucoqui deal, but Aaron Martin's improbable revival effectively cancels that out.

Anton Stach and Marcus Ingvartsen have been more hit-or-miss, with the former trending upwards and the latter downwards in terms of recent form. There's only so many different ways one can recount this team's amazing revival from a seven-point 2020/21 Hin-runde team that shipped out its leading goal-scorer last January to their position in the league now. Svensson can engage in all the self-flagellation he wishes to. This team is a small miracle.

Dead-Weight Ledger = None

At a lean-and-mean 25 active players, Mainz's roster has absolutely no dead weight on it. Some of the players who got the emergency call up to the senior side just prior to the start of the season have attracted interest from other clubs. The most notable of these has been defensive midfielder Niklas Tauer.

The latest information from German footballing publications indicates that Mainz plan no more loan outs this year. That's believable. Heidel and Schmidt literally loaned out a third of the team last year. No one goes anywhere on a 25-man-roster. That's about as bare bones as it can get in a top league.

Expiring Contracts = Daniel Brosinski (RB), Jean-Paul Boëtius (ATTM), Kevin Stöger (ATTM), Adam Szalai (CF)

Jean-Paul Boëtius and even Kevin Stöger could still fetch decent fees, but the Nullfünfter must add new players before they even consider it. Top Flight enthusiasts will miss Daniel Brosinksi and Adam Szalai, who look to be headed for semi or outright retirement.

Further Needs = CB, RB, LW, AM

No such thing as a squad without needs. Without anything particularly dire, however, the Pfälzer should be content to hold out for a comfortable mid-table finish. There's no sense in rocking this boat. It does fine just to stay afloat.

Rumored Links = None

RasenBallSport Leipzig

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = +€2 million 

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 3,75

The autumn transfer class grade sits a little higher than some might expect. Despite the fact that André Silva and Brian Brobbey haven't made the contributions on might have hoped for Mohamed Simakan and Josko Gvardiol count as above average additions to the squad. There's also no sense in marking either Silva or Brobbey as busts. There were long-term investments not likely to pay dividends immediately.

Lothar Matthäus aptly summarized the general assumption of the German footballing public when it comes to this RB affiliate in a recent interview. We basically presume that they will make up ground and finish in the top four or just outside it, not unlike Dortmund last season. Somehow this €500 million club will find a way to get it together and begin reliably pummeling opponents before the season is out.

Their autumn transfer class wasn't looking especially good at this point last year either, though they did have four more games in hand as well as a certain tactical maestro known as Julian Nagelsmann getting the best out of a disjointed roster. While they have a considerably less inventive head-coach at the helm, the German Red Bulls definitely have a more coherently built squad with which Domenico Tedesco can pick up points.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Benjamin Henrichs (RB), Sidney Raebiger (CM), Joscha Wosz (ATTM)

The Brian Brobbey loan-out, combined with the termination (by mutual consent) of Uruguayan left-back Marcelo Saracchi's contract, leaves practically no dead-weight left to cut from this side. A pair of the recently promoted academy products could be parked elsewhere, most likely somewhere else in the RB system.

Finding places for Ilaix Moriba, or Benjamin Henrichs for that matter, won't be easy. Both players carry a "Caveat Emptor" stone around their necks. A loan out with automatic purchase clauses may be the best option for players having difficult reputations preceding them. Those aren't easy to hammer out or get other clubs to accept.

Expiring Contracts = Marcel Halstenberg (LB), Hugo Novoa (RW)

Nova may be another player that gets a loan out with a purchase clause. It shall prove interesting to see what becomes of Marcel Halstenberg; still a German national team defender who could fetch upwards of €7-10 million. Oliver Mintzlaff has to don the sporting director's hat again during this window as we've still not gotten this long promised extra executive.

Further Needs = LW, RW, ATTM, LS

The only rumor that seems credible involves a snap purchase of Bruno Praxedes from the Red Bull Brazilian affiliate. While the club technically isn't out of the running for Salzburg's Karim Adeyemi, Dortmund appears to be the more likely destination for the young German international. A high value signing here nevertheless isn't totally out of the realm of possibility.

Rumored Links = Boubacar Kamara (DM) Jakub Kaminski (LW), Jonathan Ikoné (RW), Bruno Praxedes (ATTM), Karim Adeyemi (CF)

Hertha BSC

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = +€32 million 

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 3,75

The averaged score proves significantly better than one might expect from a club that had an embarrassingly poor summer transfer window. Stevan Jovetic's impact has been huge. To think of how positive it might have been had injuries not limited the Montenegrin to ten appearances. Fredi Bobic did well to snag the 32-year-old on a free. He's already done just as well to pickup Fredrik André Bjørkan at zero transfer cost.

Although "die alte Dame's" new sporting CEO has plenty of funds with which two work, Bobic operates as if he doesn't. This constitutes an admirable attempt to instill a new culture at a club with a history of profligate waste. Such a shift in direction needs to precede any more spending and the competent executive deserves plaudits for it.

Marco Richter, Suat Serdar, and Jurgen Ekkelenkamp have all managed to make meaningful contributions to the squad during there Hin-Runde. We might find ourselves saying the same about Ishak Belfodil if Tayfun Korkut's 4-4-2 continues to improve along its current trajectory. There regrettably exists very little in terms of a positive trajectory to discuss when it comes to the cases of Myziane Maolida and Kevin Prince Boateng, both of whom have been busts.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Rune Jarstein (GK), Linus Gechtner (CB), Marton Dardai (CB), Maximilian Mittelstädt (LB), Lucas Tousart (DM), Krzysztof Piatek (CF)

Some fairly big names on the dead-weight ledger here. Bobic will have little choice but to incur transfer losses on some of the purchases from the ill-fated Jürgen Klinsmann era. The fact remains that players like Tousart and Piatek need to be shown the door in order for this club to turn a new page. Knocking those two high-salaried players off the roster will reduce it down for a manageable 27-man active squad.

Expiring Contracts = Nils-Jonathan Körber (GK), Niklas Stark (CB), Lukas Klünter (RB), Peter Pekarik (RB), Kevin-Prince Boateng (AM), Dennis Jastrzembski (LW)

Rumors concerning Niklas Stark persist. If Hertha can complete the Marc Oliver Kempf deal during this window, Stark will likely be offloaded to another Bundesliga side. Apart from this case, we're likely just looking at contract run-downs for a group of un-marketable veterans.

Further Needs = CB, LB, RB, ADM, RW, CF 

With investor Lars Windhorst still fully committed to delivering this club cash infusions, Bobic theoretically has free reign to land at least a pair of high value signings. It honestly nevertheless appears as if this isn't a priority for a CEO committed to changing this club's culture from the ground up. New arrivals are coming; just not big name ones.

Rumored Links = Marvin Friedrich (CB), Marc Oliver Kempf (CB), Moses Nyeman (DM), Christian Torres (LW), Andreas Skov Olsen (RW), Toni Martinez (CF)

VfL Bochum

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = +€1 million 

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 3,75

The Sebastian Polter signing proved absolutely vital for this club. Relegation oblivion beckoned when lead striker Simon Zoller succumbed to a possible season-ending injury earlier inn the campaign. The odds stood very much stacked against the 1848ers and it remains difficult to fathom that we're discussing a 12th placed team at the break. Other summer additions Eduard Löwen, Takuma Asano, Elvis Rexhbecaj, and Christopher Antwi-Adjei have not been able to net a league tally amongst themselves. Polter's six Bundesliga goals have carried this team.

The only other offseason acquisition who has been able to pseudo carry his weight is Hoffenheim loanee Konstantinos Stafylidis. The columnist accords the Greek fullback average marks. Otherwise, its been the team veterans like Anthony Losilla, Robert Tesche, Milos Pantovic, Danny Blum, and Gerrit Holtmann who have kept this squad above relegation level. That in itself makes for a warming story. Always nice to see promoted clubs succeed with their core personnel from the 2. Liga.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Armel Bella Kotchap (CB), Cristian Gamboa (RB), Saulo Decarli (CB), Maxim Leitsch (CB), Raman Chisbah (CM), Tom Weilandt (RW), Silvére Ganvoula (CF)

Tons of parking candidates here. Some players haven't been used at all by head-coach Thomas Reis while others simply turned out to be poor fits in his usual 5-4-1. A 30-man-active roster remains bloated, even in COVID times. Sporting director Sebastian Schindierlorz could benefit from pocketing some loan fees, particularly in light of the fact that his lost of expiring contracts happens to be quite long.

Expiring Contracts = Vasilios Lampropoulos (CB), Herbert Bockhorn (RB), Anthony Losilla (DM), Robert Tesche (DM), Milos Pantovic (ATTM), Danny Blum (LW), Soma Novotny (AM)

Here one sees a rather moribund look at this club's future. Whether Bochum manages to maintain the top-flight or not, many tough decisions are looming this offseason. Part of the reason so many of the vets have responded so well relates to the fact that the core group knows that it may be their last hurrah. If this Ruhr club secures safety, there shall be some emotional scenes.

Further Needs = DM, ATTM, CF, LS

The rumor mills remain mostly quiet. Only the familiar Robert Zulj rumors crop up again. The club could conceivably leverage itself a bit in the interest of maintaining the class, but one sees such an outcome as unlikely.

Rumored Links = Aymen Barkok (ATTM), Robert Zulj (ATTM)

VfL Wolfsburg

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = -€50 million 

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 4,0

What a total collective bust this transfer class has turned out to be. Even Lukas Nmecha's six league goals seem irrelevant now that the young German talent looks to be out injured long-term. Dodi Lukebakio has had his moments despite the fact that neither one of the WOB trainers could figure out a consistent way to use him. Poor Aster Vranckx appears to have been thrown into too demanding a role by Florian Kohfeldt. One might say the same about the younger Nmecha brother Felix.

One can't really question the inherent talent possessed by players such as Luca Waldschmidt and Sebastiaan Bornauw, but neither one has really played up to their level this year. That's not even debatable. Neither Kohfeldt nor his predecessor Mark van Bommel proved capable of piecing this squad together in any sort of coherent way tactically. This total mess of a campaign can still absolutely get much worse with Kohfeldt at the helm. What a horrible €50 million botch!

Dead-Weight Ledger = Anselmo Garcia McNulty (CB), Jannis Lang (CB), Marvin Stefaniak (ATTM)

Some of players who might ordinarily qualify as dead weight, notably the recovering Bartosz Bialek, need to be kept around. Even on a a 32-man-roster, there just don't appear to be any safe cuts here. Parking a few prospects would at least constitute some bare minimum administrative competence.

Expiring Contracts = Pavao Pervan (GK), John Anthony Brooks (CB), Admir Mehmedi (AM), Daniel Ginczek (CF)

If, as has been reported, the northern Autostädter are serious about throwing the entire transfer budget behind a move for American striker Ricardo Pepi, all these players need to be sold. This counts as another matter of minimal administrative competence. The company team's "company cash" doesn't matter in this regard. Marcel Schäfer and the front office need to prove that they can still properly manage the roster.

Further Needs = CB, LW, RW, CF

Should the Pepi deal go through, every other rumor through the end of next month can likely be discarded. Again, we return to the matter of basic administrative competence. Out-recruiting Bayern should prove simple enough when it comes to Pepi. Wolfsburg can offer the youngster playing time. This deal needs to be wrapped up pronto.

Rumored Links = Jerome Onguéné (CB), Jakub Kaminski (LW), Ricardo Pepi (CF)

Borussia Mönchengladbach

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = -€4 million 

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 5,5

Believe it or not, we can begin by reporting something positive about Gladbach. Max Eberl has gotten ahead of the window from a publicity standpoint. He's cleared the air with the players who wish to leave and is actively negotiating contract extensions with those who wish to stay. This has been well-handled, all the way up to the point of getting his star player to commit to playing the second half of the season with the foals. The fans surely appreciate the transparency, even if it's now completely transparent that Gladbach will no longer be competing for top seven.

That being said, Eberl's moves this summer were a complete comedy of errors. From the collapsed deal to bring in William Pacho to the absolute nonsensical purchase of Hannes Wolf, Eberl just didn't get the job done this offseason. One can hardly fault him for paying a combined €10 million for the services of Adi Hütter and Luca Netz. Those were at least sensible moves that might still yield some positives. It shouldn't be the case that this team enters the relegation fray, meaning the club's chief personnel exec won't be going down in flames.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Christoph Kramer (DM), Laszlo Benes (CM), Hannes Wolf (ATTM), Conor Noß (AM), Marcus Thuram (LW)

It's hard to even conceive of someone like German World Cup Hero Christoph Kramer or the mega-talented Marcus Thuram occupying a dead-weight ledger list. Eberl shouldn't feel pressured to sell either below market value, especially not the currently slumping Thuram. All of that can be deferred to the summer.

Some basic matters that do need to be taken care of include loaning out Benes (again), selling Wolf, and maybe finding a place to park Conor Noß. Wolf arguably should still command a fee of €8-10 million. Kramer, Benes, and Noß could all come with loan fees attached.

Expiring Contracts = Matthias Ginter (CB), Dennis Zakaria (DM), Keanan Bennetts (LW), Patrick Herrman (RW)

With Jordan Beyer renewed and Patrick Herrmann likely to follow, all that remains is to get good prices for Zakaria and Bennetts. In general, we'll find out quite a bit about Eberl's administrative talents in the coming days and weeks. Getting everything out in the open can still end up being a lousy tactic if he can't conclude proper transactions involving these players.

Further Needs = LW, ATTM, CF

Insofar as additions are concerned, there do exist a few links. It's nevertheless Difficult to imagine the BMG making purchases when their coffers are so openly empty.

Rumored Links = Romain Faivre (LW), Delano Burgzorg (LW), Eddie Nketiah (CF)

FC Augsburg

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = +€5 million

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 2,75

With results on the uptick, one can classify the most recent Fuggerstädter transfer class as a largely positive one. Reuniting Germany U21 internationals Niklas Dorsch and Arne Maier always counted as a good idea. The results finally begin to manifest themselves. Perhaps pairing Andi Zeqiri with Ruben Vargas axially in the coming phase of the season will produce some solid football as well. One expected a little more from defender Frederik Winther, but the young Dane has hardly had a chance to settle in.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Lasse Günther (LB), Fredrik Jensen (ATTM),  Michael Gregoritsch (AM), Sergio Cordova (CF)

Stefan Reuter has some high quality players who just aren't clicking for club at the moment to park. Loan exchanges with some other Bundesliga clubs seeking help at these positions wouldn't constitute a bad idea at all. In any event, departures need to offset arrivals on a 28-man-roster with lots of injuries and not much space to trim.

Expiring Contracts = Jan Moravek (CM), André Hahn (RW), Florian Niederlechner (CF), Alfred Finnbogason (CF)

Sporting director Reuther effectively finds himself handcuffed with respect to the expiring contracts. No sensible manager will be interested in his two congenitally injured strikers Niederlechner and Finnbogason. André Hahn and Jan Moravek are too important to the current squad. It looks as if everyone is staying put here.

Further Needs = CM, RB, CF 

Bringing in Danny da Costa and Ajdin Hrustic seem like deft moves. One hopes that these two rumors are true. If the services of that pair can be secured, Reuter could legitimately have time to take a brief holiday in late January. There doesn't appear to be much else he can do.

Rumored Links = Adjin Hrustic (CM), Danny da Costa (RB), Alan Velasco (LW)

VfB Stuttgart

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = +€24 million

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 4,0

Quite a few players to score here on that team that gambled on an injury ride-out and happens to be losing. Wahid Faghir, Hiroki Ito, and keeper Florian Müller have all made beneficial contributions. Omar Marmoush, for all his inconsistencies, has had something of an impact. Injuries precluded Chris Führich, Ömer Beyaz, and Enzo Millot from doing the same.

As a result of all of this, one has been forced to watch far too many youths thrown into the mix long before they were ready. This team remains a rather sorry sight; a tentative stop-start conflagration of whatever Pellegrino Matarazzo can cobble together each weekend. Time shall tell if Sven Mislintat's injury-ride out gamble works out in the long run. During this window, there's work aplenty to be done.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Pascal Stenzel (CB), Naouirou Ahamada (DM), Clinton Mola (DM), Philipp Klement (ATTM), Lilian Egloff (ATTM) Momo Cissé (RW)

At 36-active, this roster is absurdly large. New faces earn call ups from the youth ranks seemingly every week. Without knowing exactly how many play on pro contracts, the payroll situation qualifies as a mystery. One assumes that the oversized squad siphons some unnecessary money from the club coffers. Accordingly, Mislintat should park four or five players elsewhere.

Expiring Contracts = Marc Oliver Kempf (CB), Erik Thommy (LW), Daniel Didavi (ATTM)  Hamadi Al Ghaddioui (CF)

Kempf counts as both a decent payday and a sizable loss if the Hertha deal goes through. The rest of this crew likely can't fetch chicken scratch. It's far more reasonable to keep players carrying with them the potential to contribute well above their market value.

Further Needs = AM, CF, LS

Sven Mislintat is on record as saying that he needs to reduce his roster and that winter additions are out of the question. The former Dortmund and Arsenal executive could always change his mind. One still has trouble conceiving of even a few loan-ins without four or five loan-outs. Most boards can't stamp a payroll this large.

Rumored Links = Anrie Chase (CB), Inigo Cordoba (LW)

DSC Arminia Bielefeld

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = -€9 million

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 4,0

A series of smart decisions earned Samir Arabi a top level grade in our last transfer column. The DSC manager's overhaul was certainly an ambitious attempt at surviving a challenging second season in the top flight. All of these new faces obviously needed time to get acclimatized and gel. Patrick Wimmer made an immediate impact while the likes of Bryan Lasme, Janni-Luc Serra, Florian Krüger, and Alessandro Schöpf are only now just waking up.

Overall, however, there have been just too many outright flops. Edimilson Fernandes, Andreas Andrade, Robin Hack, and Lennart Czyborra (when they have played) have done so at a level far below bang average. Sebastian Vasiliadis passes as a pretty good get. Even though he's only played one match, fellow Greek Stefanos Kapino delivered the team an upset shutout victory. That's priceless in a season during which points are hard to come by.

Dead-Weight Ledger = None

Not a soul to park on this, the smallest of all the league rosters. Now that Burak Ince has arrived, Samir Arabi could stash one of his 24-actives somewhere else. There nevertheless wouldn't be much of a point to it as every able body shall be needed for a tough relegation dogfight.

Expiring Contracts = Stefan Ortega (GK), Amos Pieper (CB), Joakim Nilsson (CB), Cedric Brunner (RB), Fabian Kunze (DM), Gonzalo Castro (CM), Fabian Klos (CF)

No chance of cashing in on any of these actors. There isn't much hope for signing them either. Everything remains tied up in a heavy leverage lien for another season in the top flight. Best of luck to the Teutoburgs in this quest.

Further Needs = ATTM, CF, LS

Some rumors about another young Turkish talent to complement Ince make the rounds. If Arabi finds himself with another €1-2 million to spend, it's safe to assume that he'll literally go for broke. Football demands such moves of its managers. Everything must be placed on the line.

Rumored Links = Enis Destan (CF) 

SpVgg Greuther Fürth

Estimated Autumn Transfer Balance = +€2.5 million

Autumn 2021 Transfer Class Grade = 5,25

Injuries to Gideon Jung, Justin Hoogma, and Jessic Ngankam rendered sporting director Rachid Azzouzi's already interminably difficult task nearly impossible. To the German personnel boss' great credit, SpVgg's sporting director wasted no time in pulling off a series of deadline day deals to at least give his squad a fighting chance. Genuinely impressive stuff from this club's chief exec. He shook off serious injuries to his three main piece additions like it was nothing.

Alas, none of the acquisitions performed above a 4,0 level. Jetro Willems, Max Christiansen, and Sebastian Griesbeck at least plugged the gaps in the starting XI. In practice, it functioned about as well as plugging gaping holes in a sinking ship with electric tape. Oh well. It was worth trying something. Cedric Itten, Luca Itter, Jeremy Dudziak, and Nick Viergever also weren't bad ideas. They've merely played as badly as in their own worst nightmares.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Adrian Fein (DM), Emil Berggreen (AM), Elias Kratzer (RW), Robin Kehr (SS)

Racchid Azzouzi proactively cut his dead-weight ledger with the sale of Hans Nunoo Sarpei and Nils Seufert's loan-out. Adrian Fein's loan cancellation and a sale/release of Abourahmane Barry should follow in the next couple of days. One conjectures that Azzouzi operates under strict protocols from the board to park or outright jettison as many players as possible over the coming weeks.

Expiring Contracts = Sascha Burchert (GK), Marius Funk (GK), Maximilian Bauer (CB), Abdourahmane Barry (CB), Simon Asta (RB), Paul Seguin (CM), Timothy Tillman (ATTM), Havard Nielsen (CF) 

Seguin, Nielsen, and potentially even Tillman can fetch some cash if the club truly needs it. Naturally, no one involved with the Kleeblatt will want to be seen as giving up despite the fact that survival is (in no uncertain terms) completely out of sight. Many of these actors could be retained for the simple purpose of saving face.

Further Needs = GK, DM, ATTM, CF, LS

A few loan-ins aren't out of the question. What remains totally questionable concerns the desire of any player from anywhere to actually want to play for this team. All signs point to a embarrassingly meek end. Few of us lent credence to the Loris Karius rumors when they cropped up. Humiliation to add to a pay cut! Probably not the most enticing lure.

Rumored Links = Loris Karius (GK), Aymen Barkok (ATTM), Adi Nalic (ATTM)

Thanks so much for reading! You can occasionally catch Peter goofing off while watching the lower German football divisions on twitter, @ViceytheSS.

Twitter DMs are open for football conversations, corrections, and (if you truly insist) general abuse. 

All columns debut on Bulinews before appearing on Peter's website later in the week.

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