By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

January Transfer Window 2021: The Complete German Bundesliga Transfer Primer

The arbitrary flipping of a calendar year may not always hold the same significance for every individual in every last instance. For football fans, however, the new year always comes accompanied with the promise of true renewal.

A glorious period of intrigue awaits just around the corner. At Bulinews, we're pleased to get those interested in the goings on inside the German Bundesliga prepped for all the action to come with a comprehensive column covering all 18 clubs.

Moves from the previous window being highly relevant to where each club stands and what they can afford to do next, the performances of all the players who arrived over the summer are evaluated with European-scale grades.

Each club receives a composite grade for their previous transfer class. Next, the excess players actively being shopped for sales or loans are listed via a "Dead-Weight Ledger". Finally, the early rumors regarding transfers, culled from various rumor mills, are listed as well.

Analysis proceeds in the current order of the league table at the Christmas break.
A brand new calendar year and football's next international transfer window arrive in a few short hours. This year sees different Euro-zone nations open the market on different dates. Germany, England, and France shall be the first countries to allow their domestic clubs to engage in transactions on Saturday, January 2nd. Four more nations, including Italy and Spain, join the fray on January 4th.

Austria and Switzerland will permit their clubs to finalize transactions beginning on the respective dates of January 9th and January 16th. The later start also means that clubs in these two nations may continue to operate in the market until mid-February. All other European clubs face a hard deadline of Monday, February 1st. The DFL's cut-off point comes at 18:00 on that Monday.

Just as in last Summer's extended transfer period, we can expect Bundesliga clubs to spend less on outright purchases than many of their European counterparts. The financial strain associated with the COVID-crisis should translate to a large number of loan arrangements. Irrespective of how players move, there will be no shortage of switches among clubs.

Without any further ado, let's take a look at the state of all organizations competing in the Bundesrepublik's top flight at the onset of this most intriguing window.

FC Bayern München

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 3,85

Alexander Nübel (3,0)

Douglas Costa (3,5)

Leroy Sané (3,5)

Bouna Sarr (4,25)

Eric Maxim Chuopo Moting (5,0)

Tanguy Nianzou (N/A)

Marc Roca (N/A)

Germany's impassable record champions prove that a talent-laden behemoth can easily survive a mediocre or even outright shoddy transfer class. It makes little difference that Eric Maxim Chuopo Moting turned out to be a rather inadequate backup for Robert Lewandowski or that Bouna Sarr's deficiencies ultimately led to Hansi Flick deploying Niklas Süle at right-back. A tired and uninspired Bayern side can still rely on it's high press to avoid defeat in most every case.

None of the low marks constitute any real cause for concern. Some may find Leroy Sané's assigned grade to be rather high. It must be emphasized that the talented winger has actually scored five goals across all competitions. Furthermore, there do exist signs that he's becoming better acclimated to the FCB system. While the lofty expectations accompanying the 24-year-old's return to Germany haven't exactly been met, it remains far too early to label him a failure.

Flick successfully navigated injuries to both his first-choice midfielders, not losing a single match despite Joshua Kimmich's long absence and Leon Goretzka's intermittent struggles. A few minor tactical tweaks to the self-coached 4-2-3-1 steered the team through stretches of treacherous water. More injuries may be considered a certainty. As a result, more such tricky spans await.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Joshua Zirkzee (LS), Leon Dajaku (LW), Javi Martinez (DM), Chris Richards (RB), Jan Fiete Arp (CF)

One legitimate criticism of Sporting Director Hasan Salihamidzic concerns the fact that he and the Bayern front office might have devoted more resources to finding loan destinations for their youth prospects in the final hours of the autumn window. Additionally, there's little excuse for allowing the Javi Martinez transfer to fall through. Hence, there are a few loose ends to tie up this time.

We should see most of the players listed above moved within the next month. Only Martinez will fetch money. As the case of Angelo Stiller illustrates, Bayern needs to find Bundesliga-level loan destinations for its developing talent. To simply demote them back to the youth team leads to disputes and malcontented exits. This is an aspect of running a mega-club that Salihamidzic has yet to demonstrate proficiency in.

Further Needs = RB, DM, CM, ATTM

One shouldn't necessarily expect Bayern to make any significant additions at all during this window. The team could naturally use a little more help in midfield, but the performances of Corentin Tolisso and Jamal Musiala likely leave them feeling as if they have enough depth. As was the case with Alexander Nübel last year, they may agree to terms with big-ticket targets such as Dayot Upamecano or Florian Neuhaus for a transfer after the season.

Rumored Links = Dayot Upamecano (CB), Gianluca Busio (CM), Florian Neuhaus (CM), Eduardo Camavinga (CM), Boubacar Kamara (DM), Denis Zakaria (DM), Thomas Soucek (DM), Max Aarons (RB) 

Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 2,25

Patrik Schick (2,25)

Santiago Arias (N/A)

Lennart Grill (N/A)

The fact that only one player logged enough minutes to be evaluated obviously renders the task of calculating a transfer-class average moot. It's frankly incredible how Peter Bosz's Werkself have performed thus far this year. When assessing the health of this comparatively meek transfer class a few months back, several doomsday scenarios were postulated. Everything that could go wrong did. Still, they thrived. Amazing.

In light of such facts, it almost feels vacuous to bring up the subject of upgrades insofar as this squad is concerned. They will come nonetheless. Germany's red company team preside over their best chance to make a play for the title in years. They also, thanks to the Kai Havertz and Kevin Volland transfers, possess enough financial resources to do so.

Bosz and the board will probably reserve the bulk of their energy on boosting the defensive corps. Bayer's head-coach still wants his left-footed center-back and needs two to three more defenders in order to rotate his 4-1-4-1 properly. The team also needs a bit more depth on the wings behind Moussa Diaby, Leon Bailey, and Karim Bellarabi.

Dead Weight Ledger = Tin Jedvaj (CB), Aleksandr Dragovic (CB) Mitchell Weiser (RB), Wendell Borges (LB), Jonathan Tah (CB)

It shall prove very interesting to see what the club opts to do with the set of defenders who have been the very public subject of transfer talks. Recall that it was not long ago at all that all of the above players were listed as expendable. All of the injuries at the back forced them into the fore. Contrary to expectations, an unwanted lot assisted die Werkself in achieving dominance both in the Bundesliga and their Europa League group.

The newly announced retirement of the Bender twins after the season alters the dynamic further. Suddenly, it may prove the case that none of these players will be on the move. Ostensibly, it will all depend on what additions Rudi Völler and the administrative team can procure. For every defensive back the club acquires, it's safe to assume that one of these actors will be off to a Bundesliga club in dire need of their services.

Further Needs = LB, CB, RB, ADM, LW, LS

Bosz managed to survive injuries to Patrik Schick and Charles Aranguiz. Regardless, it's very risky to proceed with only Julian Baumgartlinger as the back-up anchoring defensive midfielder and Lucas Alario as the back-up lead striker. Defenders and wingers may be the priorities, but the team truly requires help all over. Leverkusen have one of the league's smallest active rosters. It's comprised of a mere 28 players, seven of which are injured. One anticipates a very active window here.

Rumored Links = Brandon Williams (LB), Sead Kolasinac (LB), Florian Thauvin (RW), Carlos Fernandez (CF)

RasenBallSport Leipzig

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 3,9

Justin Kluivert (2,75)

Benjamin Henrichs (3,5)

Hee-Chan Hwang (3,75)

Alexander Sørloth (4,5)

Lazar Samardzic (5,0)

Josep Martinez (N/A)

Some unfortunate luck makes RB's latest transfer class look a little worse than it was. Hee-Chan Hwang's prolonged bout with COVID could not have been foreseen and nothing in Benjamin Henrichs' history suggested he would be so injury prone. Both players have contributed serviceable work in their limited action. Familial footballing scion Justin Kluivert also saw his late scintillating form uprooted by an ill-timed injury.

Of course, the Alexander Sørloth purchase has been an unequivocal flop and young Lazar Samardzic appears unprepared to contribute on this level. Julian Nagelsmann's tactics often scream out for the absent Timo Werner. Emil Forsberg, Yussuf Poulsen, Christopher Nkunku, and Marcel Sabitzer have, via some creative strategic constellations, been capable of picking up the slack for now. More reliable solutions are needed.

Germany's Red Bulls have already hauled a major prize in the form of Hungarian phenom Dominik Szoboszlai. Whether or not another attacking midfielder addresses some of the structural issues that Nagelsmann ameliorates with inventive formations remains to be seen. We may see Leipzig angle for at least another straight target forward before the window is out.

Dead Weight Ledger = Ibrahima Konaté (CB), Nordi Mukiele (RB), Christopher Nkunku (ATTM) Dennis Borkowski (CF)

A bit more difficult to find expendable players here as Nagelsmann does use most of his pieces. Szoboszlai will likely be inserted into the starting XI immediately so that his trainer can assess his contribution over the course of multiple rounds. Depending on how the new addition fits in, it's conceivable that even Forsberg or Dani Olmo might suddenly become sellable assets. It's a genuine challenge to augur which players might appear on the block here; perhaps more so than any other club.

Further Needs = CB, CM, LW, LS

Those curious to discover which players might be on the Saxon radar will find the most reliable candidates among the Red Bull affiliate clubs. The RB/City Football Group business models will, to the chagrin of some, likely become much more widespread in the world of football in the coming years. Caden Clark and Claudinho, both of overseas RB-feeder-teams, are on the way even if they don't arrive in this window.

Rumored Links = Ozan Kabak (CB), Claudinho (LW), Randal Kolo Muani (CF), Caden Clark (ATTM), Thomas Lemmar (LW)

VfL Wolfsburg

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 2,19

Ridle Baku (1+)

Maxence Lacroix (2,0)

Maximilian Philipp (2,75)

Bartosz Bialek (3,0)

Yunus Malli (N/A)

Jeffrey Bruma (N/A)

Germany's green company team sits in fourth place in large part due to a highly effective autumn transfer class. Many in German footballing circles were surprised that trainer Oliver Glasner retained his position after having the gall to publicly complain about it. In young German midfielder/fullback Ridle Baku, the Wolves obtained a player considered by some to be the premier transfer of the previous window.

Maxence Lacroix slotted into a starting role immediately. Maximilian Philipp steadily improved until he worked himself into a comfortable groove as the team's anchoring ten. The recent play of Polish striking prospect Bartosz Bialek bodes very well for the future. Glasner may already have the additional attacker he seeks.

The VfL have actually had a string of three moderately successful windows during Glasner's tenure. The Austrian head-coach may find fault with the speed at which executive Jörg Schmadtke builds a team, but the competence in the club's administration is inherent in the progressive moves undertaken by it's CEO and auxiliary Sporting Director Marcel Schäfer.

That being said, a great deal of work lies ahead.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Niklas Klinger (GK), Jeffrey Bruma (CB), Yannick Gerhardt (CM), Yunus Malli (ATTM), Daniel Ginczek (LS)

It's rare to see a squad with a trim roster of 28 actives have so much dead weight to cut, but it's not entirely the fault of the front office managers. Jeffrey Bruma and Yunus Malli didn't perform well enough in their recent loan spells to generate long-term interest at Mainz and Union Berlin. It might have been wiser to draw up longer-term loan contracts for them, as the club did with Elvis Rexhbecaj last January.

Offloading these players, not to mention a superfluous fourth keeper, will not be easy. Non-feed loans will presumably be the only options. Securing some funds for Daniel Ginczek and Yannick Gerhardt becomes imperative. The club has no other way to free up enough cash to bring in some needed talent for their European push down the stretch.

Further Needs = CB, DM, RW, CF

Somehow, the management team will find another forward to augment the attacking corps of Bialek and Wout Weghorst. Little credence should be given to rumors that the latter will be sold as no club can presently afford to pay anywhere near the Dutchman's value. Names presently popping up in the rumor mills are very much of the lightly speculative variety. Some more realistic candidates, sure to make for intriguing debates, should be popping up soon.

Rumored Links = Danny da Costa (RB), Aimar Sher (DM), Vincent Aboubacar (CF), Vlasyslav Supryaga (CF)

Borussia Dortmund

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 3,69

Thomas Meunier (3,0)

Felix Passlack (3,25)

Jude Bellingham (3,5)

Reinier Jesus Carvalho (5,0)

Jamie Bynoe-Gittens (N/A)

Much as was the case with Leroy Sané's marks, some may find Thomas Meunier's grade to be inflated. The Belgian international's contributions have been relatively solid, despite the fact that he is obviously a radically different player than Achraf Hakimi. As temporally tempting as it may be to compare the two, it should be avoided. Meunier has been more than useful when permitted to operate out of a back-four. Felix Passlack and Jude Bellingham have, on the whole, been less consistent contributors.

It would be fair to say that the BVB's goals for the 2020/21 campaign are now much more pragmatic. In a certain sense, the club already ceded a serious run at the title by sticking with Lucien Favre for as long as they did. His dismissal stemmed from a concern that a top-four finish was threatened. So long as Edin Terzic can keep that specific objective in sight, it's unlikely that another trainer will be brought in.

At the present time, it's far from abundantly clear that Terzic can steady the ship sufficiently. The youth and inexperience of Dortmund's squad means that self-coaching like that seen at Bayern isn't a realistic option. Surely the Schwarzgelben bosses consider hiring Terzic's former supervisor Slaven Billic now that the experienced trainer has been released from West Brom. A flash Dortmund losing streak could trigger such a move and, by extension, a more active window.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Nico Schulz (LB), Felix Passlack (RB), Thorgan Hazard (LW), Julian Brandt (ATTM), Mahmoud Dahoud (CM) 

Some very high-profile names make this club's 'expendable's list'. It's not entirely easy to see Michael Zorc parting with any of them easily, however, as he will be lowballed far beneath most of their true market values. The prospect of an established coach being given control at Dortmund is hugely relevant to any and all potential moves we may expect from this club in this transfer period. Terzic won't be given license to shop and sell. Someone like Billic might.

Further Needs = CB, RW, ATTM

Though a quiet window remains the prediction, one can still surmise that Zorc will make some manner of concerted effort to find a quality attacking midfielder capable of supporting his strikers from a centralized position. The most glaring need of this team revolves around the position that Germans call the "Hängende Spitze". It translates to a cross between an attacking and anchoring midfielder. Some might label it an inverted nine or forward ten. A few blockbuster names appearing here shouldn't be idly dismissed.

Rumored Links = Moussa Niakhite (CB), Sebastian Walukiewicz (CB) Jayden Braaf (LW), Michael Olise (ATTM), Christian Eriksen (ATTM), Donyell Malen (CF)

1. FC Union Berlin

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 2,4

Max Kruse (1+)

Taiwo Awoniyi (1,75)

Cedric Teuchert (2,0)

Robin Knoche (2,0)

Keita Endo (2,25)

Andreas Luthe (2,5)

Sebastian Griesbeck (3,0)

Nico Schlotterbeck (3,0)

Niko Gießelmann (3,0)

Joel Pohjanpalo (3,5)

Loris Karius (N/A)

Point blank one of the best transfer classes ever seen; an illustrative model for any football club seeking to survive the second-year jinx. Chance and good fortune play their roles as well, but the Union administrative apparatus deserves full credit for locating the right mix of journeymen veterans and a few eager loan prospects in their quest to bolster the team without breaking the bank. The hasn't been a bonafide bust among this crew. Joel Pohjanpalo draws lower marks because of time missed with injury.

In Pohjanpalo, Taiwo Awoniyi, Cedric Teuchert, and "gold-star" transfer Max Kruse, the Eisernen essentially obtained four contributing strikers to replace the sole one they had last season. The future of this club hardly looked bright last January. Union were set to lose their lead striker for nothing on an expiring contract. Eventually able to get upwards of €7 million for him, they even presumably have some extra capital to make one or two signings this time.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Jakob Busk (GK), Florian Hübner (CB), Julian Ryerson (RB), Akaki Gogia (RW), Anthony Ujah (CF)

The club has already done well to find a placement for backup keeper Lennart Moser; a deal completed just today. There's still a bit of fat left to trim here. It remains less than likely that the club can generate much interest in an injured Anthony Ujah or a precipitously tanking Julian Ryerson. One of the lower division sides might be persuaded to shell out €1 million or so for Akaki Gogia. Hoffenheim might take Florian Hübner.

Note that the roster, in stark contrast to last year, stands svelte at 27 active players. The club can afford to fob off cheap offers for its underutilized players. The decision makers can also hold out for loan fees on some of the players on both the senior payroll and below. Having played the last window intelligently, Union simply needs to keep it up.

Further Needs = CB, LB, CM, RW, CF

An overt need for additions doesn't truly exist, though it wouldn't hurt to see the club plan for the future a bit. With Awoniyi and Pohjanpalo returning to their parent clubs next summer, adding some more depth at striker isn't a terrible idea. Union stockpiled an estimated €3 million positive transfer balance this past autumn and can rely upon the return of its gate receipts very soon.

There's even the possibility that they've inadvertently stumbled upon a marketable "cult" brand of sorts. Many more outside the Bundesrepublik now know of the Berliner outcast club. It could gain a more international following. Granted, Germans perpetually make the same wholly wrong prediction of FC St. Pauli and Fortuna Düsseldorf. Matters may be different in a market as large as capital, however.

Rumored Links = Mark McKenzie (CB), Marcus Forss (CF), Kevin Behrens (CF)

VfB Stuttgart

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 1,95

Gregor Kobel (1+)

Wataru Endo (1+)

Waldemar Anton (1,75)

Pascal Stenzel (3,0)

Konstantinos Mavropanos (3,0)

Naouirou Ahamada (N/A)

Momo Cissé (N/A)

Erik Thommy (N/A)

Note that Gregor Kobel and Wataru Endo, both loan signees, skew the transfer class grade somewhat. To choice to include them in the relevant average was weighted carefully. In the final analysis, the Stuttgart managers deserve the credit for signing the on-loan players necessary to compete in this division. Where would die Schwaben be without a top-tier goalkeeper and a flexible utility defender? Certainly not in 7th place.

Waldemar Anton's role turned out to be significantly less mysterious than initially anticipated. The summer signing was specifically brought in to ballast Pellegrino Matarazzo's back-three; a job one must admit the 24 year old did especially well. Were it not for injuries, this team would have had three new contractees from the previous transfer phase awarded "1+" level grades.

It's not always the case that the success of a promoted team can be directly linked to the personnel preparations undertaken prior to their first year in the top flight. Here the connection is obvious. Sven Mislintat and Thomas Hitzlsperger themselves deserve top marks.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Marcin Kaminski (CB), Erik Thommy (LW), Roberto Massimo (RW), Nicolas Gonzales (CF) Hamadi Al Ghaddioui (LS)

One hopes that the front office disruption brewing in Baden-Württemberg won't distract this organization from the important business tasks on their docket this January. As of this writing, a messy election involving the board looms. Nothing can derail the focus of an executive anteriority quite like the regrettably nature of camp vs. camp office politics. It's the absolute last thing one wants to witness inside a club so clearly in the ascendancy.

As one can see from the extended list above, there's quite a few players who need to be struck from a 33-man-roster. The inclusion of Nicolas Gonzalez remains something of a matter of subjective opinion. One would nevertheless genuinely like to see Mislintat cut up his piece of €17-20 million transfer bait. The squad has more than enough proven performers to function without him. As a result, the club could pick up three or possibly even four future prospects without missing a beat.

Further Needs = CM, DM, CF

A likely scenario sees the club procure one or two additional developmental players, assuming they opt not to sell Gonzalez. A immediate-impact transfer simply isn't necessary as the team has no immediate needs. It's entirely possible that die Schwaben can remain in competition for the European places without making a move. Should they come up short in their first year back in the Bundesliga, few would hold a non-active window against them.

Rumored Links = Anderson Niangbo (CM), Folarin Balogun (CF)

Borussia Mönchengladbach

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 3,75

Hannes Wolf (3,75)

Valentino Lazaro (3,75)

Louis Jordan Beyer (N/A)

Michael Lang (N/A)

Julio Villalba (N/A)

The two new members of the Fohlenelf delivered some unforgettable performances for their new club. Hannes Wolf's dramatic game-winning goal against Leipzig in the sixth round shan't soon be forgotten. In addition to that, Valentino Lazaro's scorpion kick against Leverkusen one round later retains its place as the undisputed best league goal of the season. It shall take something truly special to knock that tally off it's lofty perch. Taking a look at two isolated incidents, it appears as both Wolf and Lazaro may be deemed successes.

Unfortunately, their below-average composite grades reflect the fact that neither have achieved a smooth transition in Marco Rose's tactical set-up. The familiar criticism that neither one of these actors fits particularly well persists well into the season. With both players, it is most definitely not a question of talent, but rather of style. Two power forwards who would fit better as centralized attackers routinely operate on the wings in the rotations governing Rose's 4-2-3-1.

While there's no shortage of earned praise to dole out on sporting director Max Eberl, these acquisitions do call into question his eye for applicable plug-ins. The rotation issues directly explain why this squad's league form has taken a nosedive. The West Prussians will encounter further difficulty stabilizing and climbing the table without Marcus Thuram in the coming weeks.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Max Grün (GK), Andreas Poulsen (LB), Louis Jordan Beyer (RB), Christoph Kramer (DM), Denis Zakaria (DM) Laszlo Benes (CM), Patrick Herrmann (RW), Ibrahima Traoré (RW), Julio Villalba (RW) 

Eberl plans to take a much-discussed six week break from the day-to-day operations of the club near the end of the window. Some naturally raise the issue out the timing of this move. Understandable criticism follows. The controversy itself falls squarely into the category of overblown armchair analysis. Nevertheless, if the sporting director doesn't pare down this active roster of 32, he can rightly be accused of not living up to his responsibilities.

There is not only a significant amount of dead-weight to cut, but also a surfeit of transfer lures to be cast. The bloated central midfield contains at least three players, the implicit recommendation of relocation leads to their listing above, who need to be shipped out. One has confidence that the club will get their loan prospects sorted out properly. Some additional moves to balance out this roster's positional depth in favor of more wingers would still be desired.

Further Needs = DM, LW, RW, CF

After a seemingly infinite wait, American right-fullback Joe Scally is finally set to join the team. The Gladbach managers sealed the deal to eventually shore up that position precisely one year ago, making no real attempt to obtain anyone else to fill the need in the interim. Scally may end up being the lone acquisition of another largely dormant window from this club. If so, they shall reel in more of the customary acclaim they so often receive for their pragmatic frugality.

In one sense, not making a bold move this month feels right for this club. After all, they could simply reorganize the existing system deploy Wolf and Lazaro in more forward roles. On the other hand, the current state of the "kader" suggests that the conditions for more courageous adjustments might never be better. It's a simple and straightforward task. Get some of the sixes off the roster and bring in more natural flank attackers. Perhaps Eberl plans such moves before he takes his sabbatical.

Rumored Links = Granit Zhaka (DM), Aimar Sher (DM) Anderson Niangbo (LW) 

Eintracht Frankfurt

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 3,38

Aymen Barkok (1,5)

Steven Zuber (3,0)

Amin Younes (3,5)

Lucas Silva Melo ("Tuta") (5,5)

Markus Schubert (N/A)

Ajdin Hrustic (N/A)

Ragnar Ache (N/A)

The true worth of administrators Fredi Bobic and Bruno Hübner shall become evident in this crucial window. The manner in which this duo have repeatedly tinkered with their main strike-force often leads Bundesliga lovers, including this one, smitten with adoration. One cannot help but applaud them for selling off their higher value attackers and then fetching well-tailored replacements. They continue to generate positive results with less. It's a commendable version of "German moneyball"; Billy Beane on the Rhein if one will.

Now it seems as the charm of these experiments have worn off. Adi Hütter's Adler have been one of this campaign's biggest disappointments. A palatable disconnect between the players the front office acquires and how the coach builds his team manifests. Steven Zuber and Adjin Hrustic were brought in to give Hütter more options out wide in his usual 3-5-2. The former did very well in the limited action he saw earlier in the season before the trainer inexplicably dropped him. The latter hasn't been used at all.

It's tempting enough to chalk this up to the unexpected breakthrough of Aymen Barkok (who returned from loan) just as it is tempting to erase Bobic's mismanagement of VfB Stuttgart from one's memory. At the moment, however, there appears no rhyme or reason to either the adminstrative moves undertaken by the sporting bosses or the squads built by the head-coach. Hüttter has bulged the roster up to 32 with a bunch of unused academy players. Bobic and Hübner effectively just sold-off half the attack with the Bas Dost deal.

Something seems amiss.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Danny da Costa (RB), Dominik Kohr (CM), Djibril Sow (CM), Filip Kostic (LW), Aymen Barkok (ATTM)

We'll act on the assumption that the Bas Dost sale was a predilection of some of the financial issues the club is facing. If this is true, then the management team might as well sell of some other underutilized assets in order to put themselves in the best possible position to purchase another striker. Some of the names listed above may come as a surprise, but the SGE must offload if they hope to free some cash up.

To put it plainly, Eintracht backed themselves into a very obvious corner by trading away tangible production numbers. There exists no proof that any of the youngsters called up from the youth team can fill this gap, as they haven't been tested on this much more demanding level. On the topic of gaps to be filled, how does this team plan to address the retirement of captain David Abraham? Not even the most basic of coherent strategies have been on display. One senses trouble.

Further Needs = CB, LB, RB, CM, LW, RW, LS, CF

No, that's not a misprint. This suddenly ropey club has needs all over the place. Given the fact that this year's Bundesliga features so many historically bad teams, the bet may be that this campaign counts as a "safe pocket" to begin a massive rebuilding project. This constitutes more of a serious gamble than one might think. Of course, the preponderance of bad teams will keep the SGE out of the relegation race. It's still never entirely safe to run a team with only one proven goal-scorer.

Rumored Links = Shkodran Mustafi (CB), Kenny Lala (RB), Luka Jovic (LS), Gaëtan Laborde (CF), Joshua Zirzkee (CF)

SC Freiburg

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 3,04

Kevin Schlotterbeck (1,75)

Florian Müller (2,75)

Woo-Yeong Jeong (3,0)

Ermedin Demirovic (3,25)

Baptiste Santamaria (3,5)

Benjamin Uphoff (4,0)

Guus Til (N/A) 

A few weeks ago one might have labelled the latest Breisgauer transfer class an unmitigated disaster. Trainer Christian Streich eventually got his much-changed side organized into a functional 3-4-3 that ended the year on a five-game unbeaten run and a three-match win streak. Streich took few chances against VfB Stuttgart, mostly deploying reserves in a match he didn't deem worthy of contesting too intensively.

From the onset of this campaign, the 55-year-old head coach has emphasized the need to rest his players. The team reported to pre-season camp a full ten days after all the other clubs in Germany's top flight. The unique congestion of the fixture list this year was directly cited by a Streich as the reason. As is always the case in Freiburg, survival comes first.

The team's well-managed roster appears more than appropriate in terms of both size and positional depth. The club repeatedly does a good job in that area. Accordingly, we shouldn't expect much from them this January. It remains worth noting that the Schwarzwaldverein still maintains an estimated €24 million positive transfer balance after last summer's high-profile sales. Regrettably that means virtually zilch for a small market club deprived of gate receipts.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Benjamin Uphoff (GK), Mark Flekken (GK), Manuel Gulde (CB), Luca Itter (LB), Lukas Kübler (RB), Janik Haberer (CM)

Clubs from all three Bundesliga tiers will approach Freiburg with offers for loan deals. The management team will ideally play their cards right, finding the right spots for some of their talent and, much more importantly, pocket some loan fees. It would also be an intelligent to listen to outright transfer offers for Janik Haberer. Given that club runs a slight risk of running too lean in central midfield, it should also be a matter of obtaining full worth.

Further Needs = CB, DM, CF

Most of the rumors regarding additions at this club revolve around unfinished business from the summer window. Consequently, it's doubtful that there's much truth to them. Freiburg looks set to stick with the current assemblage of players, rely upon them to continue to improve with the added benefit of additional rest, and bank on the return of their famous fans to cheer the team on to a mid-table finish. A wise strategy that should have no problems succeeding.

Rumored Links = Rade Krunic (CM), Robert Andrich (CB) 

FC Augsburg

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 2,83

Rafal Gikiewicz (2,0)

Daniel Caligiuri (2,5)

Felix Udoukhai (2,75)

Michael Gregoritsch (3,0)

Tobias Strobl (3,0)

Robert Gumny (3,75)

Mads Pedersen (N/A)

The Fuggerstädter are similar to Freiburg in that a comfortable mid-table finish appears inevitable. This was something already apparent in early season prognostications. The performance of the latest transfer class did drop off significantly after the third round, but there remains enough overall potency in the attacking third to project a rebound during the upcoming phase of the season. The defensive corps looks to be on the uptick as well.

There are some fears surrounding this club as only one of the teams 15 league goals have come from the natural strikers. Florian Niederlecher and Alfred Finnbogason have either been unavailable through injury or in observably bad form on the pitch. Here, the strength of the transfer class is critically client. Daniel Caligiuri and Michael Gregoritsch have been able to step in and pick up the slack. André Hahn has also worked as as emergency center-forward.

The board and coaching staff remain sufficiently scared to effectively rule out any big-money sales in the upcoming window. In principle, one can't really fault them for playing it cagey after some of the disturbing form runs Heiko Herrlich's team found themselves mired in this autumn. It's still something of a pity. Under slightly different circumstances, there would be some great bait to cut up.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Felix Götze (CB), Rani Khedira (DM), Marco Richter (RW), Ruben Vargas (LW), Florian Niederlechner (CF), Alfred Finnbogason (CF)

Doubtful we'll see any of these players sold in the next month. The FCA face the realities of a subdued buyers market in addition to their own internal problems. For the league's current smaller Bavarian club, it's not worth liquidating a combined €40 million worth of assets when a precipitous slide into the relegation race threatens. One may wish to keep a close eye on this club as the deadline looms, however. Many last-minute offers should trickle in.

Further Needs = CB, LB, DM, ATTM

A bit more investment in the defensive ranks might prove worthwhile to the club. Robert Gumny has been slow to take off and Frederick Winther won't arrive until next summer. A plethora of first and second division Bundesliga fullbacks will be assessed for short-term six-month loans. We could also see a defensive minded midfielder come in for a short stint. Stefan Reuter and the front-office team need to be careful not to be too conservative when it comes to this need.

Rumored Links = Moussa Niakhaté (CB), Jannes Horn (LB), Aaron Martin (LB), Cedric Brunner (RB) Elvis Rexhbecaj (CM)

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 3,45

Sebastian Rudy (2,75)

Ryan Sessegnon (3,0)

Kevin Vogt (3,75)

Kasim Adams (3,75)

Mijat Gacinovic (4,0)

Dietmar Hopp's Kraichgauer are a rare example of a team who may wish to maintain a larger roster despite the fact that many of their players could command good money in this window. It's been a highly erratic season characterized by injury wave after injury wave, not to mention all of the complications resulting from this squad's horrible luck with COVID. While the Sinsheimers enjoyed uninterrupted success in the Europa League, their Bundesliga form has been markedly poor. The DFB-Pokal loss to Greuther Fürth served as an embarrassment.

We should paradoxically see more additions than subtractions to a 31-man-roster here. The club can, thanks to Hopp's money, afford to stockpile players. It's even possible that one of the top-dollar European names on the move during this transfer window will land in Baden-Württemberg. The billionaire responsible for paying the wage bill isn't in any danger of running out of funds soon and there's money to be made hoarding player equity when other footballing organizations can't afford to. Hoffenheim is another club likely to be especially busy in the final hours of the final day.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Luca Phillip (GK), Kasim Adams (CB), Jacob Bruun Larsen (LW), Sargis Adamyan (LW)

Three players currently attract a significant amount of attention from clubs seeking to pluck from the side's less active ranks. Jacob Bruun Larsen and Sargis Adamyan are very likely to suit up for clubs outside the Bundesrepublik before the window is concluded. In terms of its own outward shopping, the club actively seeks a loan destination for Kasim Adams and, logically, shops its fourth-string keeper. The injured Pavel Kaderabek generates a bit of interest internationally as well.

Further Needs = LB, LW, DM, CF

It remains early stages, but rumors centering around big names begin to surface. Sinsheim may even serve as a dumping ground of sorts for roster excesses around the Bundesliga. Such a practice has much precedence. Hopp enjoys such a strong relationship with other league executives that he's sometimes happy to temporarily assume the wage burden of a few players at no considerable benefit to himself. The stashing typically takes place near the deadline; another reason this club is busier than most in the late hours.

Rumored Links = Florian Hübner (CB), Yannick Gerhardt (CM), Christian Eriksen (ATTM), Krzysztof Piatek (CF), Kasper Dolberg (LS)

SV Werder Bremen

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 5,18

Jean Manuel Mbom (4,75)

Tahith Chong (5,0)

Felix Agu (5,5)

Patrik Erras (5,5)

Oscar Schönfelder (N/A)

Sometimes it's not readily apparent just how bad a team is until one takes a closer look. A few league-watchers may be too preoccupied with the fact that the Hanseaten did much better than expected after selling off midfield linchpin Davy Klaassen at the deadline to notice that their autumn transfer class has been abysmally awful. The intended upgrades, without exception, have all been duds. One can easily see how this team is headed for serious trouble.

The latest set of washouts makes it three alarmingly poor transfer windows in a row for this club. All of it comes down to poor management. Exorbitant fees used to procure injury prone players like Niclas Füllkrug and Davie Selke clearly reflect subpar scouting and desperate decision making. At this point, one also highly doubts that young trainer Florian Kohfeldt was ever worthy of the prize he once received for reversing this club's fortunes. Anyone could have done that with Max Kruse in the lineup.

To put it candidly, it's a small miracle that this side is currently in 13th place. A downward spiral looms on the horizon.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Felix Agu (LB), Patrick Erras (DM), Milot Rashica (LW), Nick Woltemade (AM), Davie Selke (LS)

Without a great deal of enticing talent to bait out, there doesn't exist much hope that Bremen can get the capital in place to procure reinforcements. The Davie Selke loan fiasco, for those unfamiliar with the details of the contract, keeps the club on the hook for money whether they keep him or wave him. A Milot Rashica deal might have come to their rescue, but even that appears off the table now.

Further Needs = LB, DM, LW, RW, AM, CF

The needs are legion. Help is needed all over the pitch. Undeniably, the most exigent shortage is at the striker position. Somehow, someway, something must be done. The team cannot hope to traverse the duration of the season with the talent it has now. The creative finagling that produced the Davie Selke loan lat January certainly doesn't inspire confidence in this club's front-office. Given their desperate position, they could all too easily be taken over again.

Rumored Links = Akaki Giogia (RW), Daniel Ginczek (CF)

Hertha BSC

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 4,15

Matteo Guendouzi (3,25)

Jhon Cordoba (3,25)

Alexander Schwolow (3,5)

Omar Alderete (3,75)

Deyovaisio Zeefuik (4,5)

Jessic Ngankam (4,5)

Lucas Tousart (5,0)

Eduard Löwen (5,5)

Daishawn Redan (N/A)

No sense in sugarcoating it. The latest transfer class has proven a monumental disappointment. It might have been even worse were it not for the recently improved play of Matteo Guendouzi. The highly-touted young Frenchmen got off to a very sluggish start before eventually recovering. The same cannot be said of his countryman Lucas Tousart, who has been an unequivocal flop. One strains to find positives in Omar Alderete's mistake-laden performances. Keeper Alexander Schwolow has similarly made too many blunders.

In spite of all these negative developments, one will find oneself hard pressed to find many in German footballing circles prepared to give up on Hertha. The squad retains so much talent and has a widely-respected head coach at the helm. It seems as if it would be more difficult for the team not to gel than eventually get its act together. There are logical reasons for this. Jhon Cordoba's long absence adversely affected his impact. Eduard Löwen has low grade relates to the fact that, curiously, he's been underused.

One should emphasize that such optimistic sentiments concerning Hertha have been disproven before. Germany's richer and more established capital club specializes in abjectly failing even when all the right pieces appear to be in place. That nevertheless amounts to something of a superstitious notion. Labbadia should be able to ultimately build something workable.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Maximilian Mittelstädt (LB), Lukas Klünter (RB), Matthew Leckie (RW), Daishawn Redan (LS), Jessic Ngankam (CF), Krzysztof Piatek (CF)

The first order of business revolves around completing loan arrangements for Daishawn Redan and Jessic Ngankam. It's probably also worth it to get the likes of Deyovaisio Zeefuik, Luca Netz, and Marton Dardai into different programs too. Mixing the future prospects with the current group hasn't worked. The classes need to be separated. One could argue that this should have been completed last summer.

The time has also come for a rethink concerning the standing of Krzysztof Piatek. Branding his year in the capital a failure goes a tad too far. In light of the fact that he hasn't been consistently productive, it might not be a terrible idea for the club to consider cutting its losses. The Polish striker's market worth has already declined by €15 million in the past twelve months.

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

The names below are actually the short-list of rumored candidates. Wild speculations involving die alte Dame will ceaselessly surface from now until the end of next month. As sure as one can expect a flurry of hearsay surrounding this club, one can also anticipate that Hertha will encounter the exact same problem closing deals as they did in the previous window. Aware of the Lars Windhorst backing, clubs will maintain high asking prices. Many negotiations will fall through.

Rumored Links = Wendell Borges (LB), Julian Weigl (DM), Tiemoué Bakayoko (DM), Boubakary Soumaré (DM), Moussa Sissoko (CM), Christen Eriksen (ATTM), Julian Draxler (ATTM), Luka Jovic (CF)

1. FC Köln

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 4,35

Ondrej Duda (3,0)

Salih Özcan (3,25)

Marius Wolf (4,0)

Frederik Sørensen (4,25)

Jannes Horn (5,0)

Dimitrios Limnios (5,0)

Sebastian Andersson (6,0) 

Tolu Arokodare (N/A)

The distended Geißböcke roster of 33 poorly selected additions and illogically deployed academy players provides almost a textbook case of footballing malpractice. When Markus Gisdol took the reins from Achim Beierlorzer last November, the youth promotions supplied enough solid play to turn the club's fortunes around. Admittedly, the youngsters began to wilt down the closing stretch of last season. Horst Heldt's response remained an wildly inappropriate.

The sporting director threw too many players with disparate styles into the mix and Gisdol appears very confused as to how to fashion coherence out of this lot. Ondrej Duda's managed to slot in without much difficulty, but literally everyone else can't find a regular role. Marius Wolf oscillates between a place on the attacking flank and the defensive wing. Returning loanees Salih Özcan, Jannes Horn, and Frederick Sørensen play all over the place.

Sebastian Andersson, at least in the opinion of this writer, claims the title of the previous transfer window's biggest bust. On-loan striker Tolu Arokodare (whom Gisdol hasn't had the confidence in to give any meaningful action to) and newly-acquired winger Dimitrios Limnios (whom Gisdol doesn't have the lightest inkling what to do with) complete a trio of misplaced miscarriages. After running a series of absurd constellations with Duda as the lead-striker, this club finds itself in frantic need of some better options.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Kingsley Ehizibue (RB), Frederick Sørensen (CB), Marco Höger (DM), Ismail Jakobs (LW), Florian Kainz (LW)

The decisions concerning which players to scratch from the active roster aren't easy. One doesn't envy Heldt as he prepares to make them. One would think that the players listed above comprise an apt enough starting point. If the club can shave off some of the excess at the wing positions, it could confer upon Gisdol the added benefit of at least having clearer options when it comes to squad selection.

Last year at this time, Köln demonstrated better competence than most Bundesliga clubs. Heldt and company shipped out seven players on loan and brought in Mark Uth, Toni Leistner, and Elvis Rexhbecaj. That sort of savvy will definitely be needed again to separate this club from the relegation pack. It can be done.

Further Needs = CB, LB, CM, LW, LS, CF

Let the "Zirzkzee Circus" commence. Köln and Frankfurt prepare to engage in an administrative game cat-and-mouse whilst simultaneously pursing the young Bayern attacker. One presumes this shall be one of the enduring stories of the coming window. There do exist some other low cost options for the Cathedral City club, but there should be no question as to whom the prime target is.

Rumored Links = Mitchell Weiser (RB), Francis Amuzu (LW), Leon Dajaku (LW), Vedad Ibisevic (CF), Joshua Zirkzee (CF), Moussa Koné (CF), Daniel Ginczek (CF) 

DSC Arminia Bielefeld

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 4,32

Ritsu Doan (1,75)

Mike van der Hoorn (4,0)

Nathan de Medina (4,0)

Sergio Cordova (4,5)

Christian Gebauer (5,0)

Jacob Barrett Laursen (5,0)

Arne Maier (6,0)

Noel Niemann (N/A)

Nikolai Regnen (N/A)

One certainly feels for the DSC as their summer transfer strategy did make rational sense. The small-market club did much right in terms of acquiring players on loans and frees. To perhaps exemplify how hit-or-miss the nature of such moves can be, the heralded Ritsu Doan deal yielded plenty of positive dividends while the Arne Maier procurement proved a cruel flop. Most all of the defenders added were of reasonable quality. It might have swung the other way.

We shall never know what early-term overachieving Arminia might have been capable of playing in front of vocal fans celebrating a return to Germany's top flight for the first time in 11 years. One can only hope that a few will be allowed in between now and May to assist the team in the coming relegation fight. Bielefeld should be able to secure some reinforcements via short-term loans. They may also be able to liquidate a few assets for €2-3 million.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Jacob Barrett Laursen (LB), Joan Simun Edmundsson (ATTM), Reinhold Yabo (CM), Christian Gebauer (RW)

A team that can't even manage a cumulative xG close to 1.0 has some cause to broaden their list of jettison-ready players far beyond the little used ones. Marcel Hartel, Manuel Prietl could join this list if the club is serious about overhauling the anemic nature of the XI. A squad carrying eight strikers, only three of which have scored, should absolutely receive themselves of a few. There might be even be a chance that some lower tier sides will pay fees for brief use of the services of Andreas Voglshammer or Sven Schipplock.

Further Needs = CB, LB, ADM, ATTM, LS

The way in which minnow clubs like this siphon off third-string cast-offs from different clubs obviously receives little attention. Journalism outlets don't have the resources to cover it. There should nevertheless be plenty of transactions to report upon. Loads of little fishes will find their way into the Bielefeld net in the coming days.

Rumored Links = Denys Oliynyk (LW), Daniel Ginczek (CF)

1. FSV Mainz 05

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 4,63

Kevin Stöger (3,75)

Luka Killian (5,5)

Dimitree Lavalee (N/A)

Abbas Issah (N/A)

Any thoughts about a low-key window for the crisis-stricken Rheinhessen can likely be purged. The new chief executive and sporting director have arrived to shake things up. Martin Schmidt's appointment, in particular, portends many moves. He insisted upon an unprecedented number of them when coaching this club and kept the personnel carousel moving during his stints with Wolfsburg and Augsburg. Loads of changes are coming.

In the last 24 hours alone, rumor mills for which the Mainzer section have long been dormant, have sprung back into life. The board may not possess funds to release at this right away, but there's a host of maneuvers Schmidt can employ to free up some cash. The massive sell-off project initiated by predecessor Rouven Schröder stands far from complete, meaning newly installed sporting director has even inherited an existing strategy.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Omer Hanin (GK), Finn Dahmen (GK), Moussa Niakhaté (CB), Alexander Hack (CB), Aaron Martin (LB), Phillipp Mwene (RB), Pierre Kunde Malong (CM), Robin Quaison (AM) Jean-Paul Boëtius (ATTM), Jean-Philippe Mateta (CF), Jonathan Burkardt (CF), Ji Dong-Won (CF), Adam Szalai (CF)

There is no longer list of trade-bait in the entire league. In addition to being able to generate upwards of €20 million in immediate liquidity, the Pfälzer could conceivably reduce their wage bill back to a flexible minimum. A lot of intriguing action gets set to emerge from this organization; personnel moves that will surely be worthy of intense scrutiny as the new administration girds up for the tough relegation fight ahead. At least one radical move can be assumed.

Further Needs = CB, RB, ADM, CM, LW, CF

Rumored Links = Steven Moreira (RB), Danny da Costa (RB), Steven Moreira (RB) Tymoteusz Puchacz (LB), Francis Amuzu (LW)

FC Schalke 04

Autumn 2020 Transfer Class Grade = 4,81

Frederik Rønnow (3,25)

Mark Uth (3,75)

Steven Skrzybski (3,75)

Kilian Ludewig (5,0)

Ralf Fährmann (5,25)

Gonçalo Paciencia (5,5)

Nabil Bentaleb (6,0)

Vedad Ibisevic (6,0)

From a club that clings to some wiggle room to one that appears practically hamstrung. The news in Gelsenkirchen continues to tend toward the catastrophic. Germany's Königsblauen carry some sellable assets. The players that the administrative team clears from the roster can help them open up room on the wage bill. However, that means precious little to an organization so heavily indebted that it can't summon up the capital for transfer fees.

New trainer Christian Groß still retains a team featuring some talented individuals like Suat Serdar, Omar Mascarell, and Mark Uth. Assuming that Gonçalo Paciencia can return from injury soon, he possesses a decent lead-striker as well. With a shoulder-length's stretch of spare time to assess his best XI, the club could then potentially cut up some bait and bring in promising replacements during the final two weeks of the window.

Dead-Weight Ledger = Ozan Kabak (CB), Matija Nastasic (CB) Nabil Bentaleb (CM), Mark Uth (AM), Amine Harit (ATTM), Rabbi Matondo (RW), Ahmed Kutuçu (LS)

Amine Harit, Ozan Kabak, Ahmed Kutuçu, and Rabbi Matondo form a serviceable quartet of players that can be moved out for practical enough money. One should once again emphasize that this only helps Schalke in terms of the weekly wage budget. Even if this yields some cash, one can't see it being enough for the club to cobble together enough for a formidable purchase. The slight ray of hope revolves around Groß potentially identifying a budget loan that can fit his nascent system.

Further Needs = LB, RB, CM, RM, LM, LS, CF 

Recognizable names for six-month loans crop up on various rumor aggregators. Naturally, the complication obstructing such deals hinges on quality players willingly accepting transfer to a club with slim prospects for survival. No footballer wishes to experience the pain of relegation, even if the commitment concludes directly after it. This crumbling club constitutes a nearly impossible sell.

Rumored Links = Danny da Costa (RB), Vinicius Ventura (LB), Sead Kolasinac (LB), Johnjoe Kenny (RB)

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