By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Reports: Union begin defensive rebuild with Paul Jaeckel, prepared to "strive for" Taiwo Awoniyi

FC Union Berlin have apparently sealed their first free transfer for the coming season. Sport Bild and Kicker report that center back Paul Jaeckel of SpVgg Greuther Fürth will be arriving this summer on a free.

The move may be seen as a pro-active attempt to bolster the central defensive ranks should Marvin Friedrich, whom sporting director Oliver Ruhnert recently confirmed has an exit clause, depart. 

In other Union news, the capital city's Köpenick club are rumored to be attempting to extend their loan arrangement with Liverpool's Taiwo Awoniyi.
At present, it looks as if 1. FC Union Berlin will be needing serious defensive reinforcements this summer. Fullback set-piece specialist Christopher Lenz is already headed to Eintracht Frankfurt next year. Lenz has amassed three direct assists this season and served up plenty more goals from his corners and free kicks.

Front office manager Oliver Ruhnert has also recently confirmed reports that Marvin Friedrich has an exit clause in his existing contract. The 25-year-old, scorer of four goals this season and frequent wearer of the captain's armband, is reported being chased by the likes of Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach for around €9 million.

Union must also reckon with the loss of Florian Hübner (expiring contract) and Nico Schlotterbeck (due to return to Freiburg after loan). Germany football media sources Kicker and Sport Bild report that the club have wrapped up their first signing. Twenty-two-year-old center halve Paul Jaeckel, a former VfL Wolfsburg prospect, will reportedly be headed to Köpenick on a free.

Jaeckel has made 68 competitive appearances for the Kleeblätter over the course of three seasons since moving from the WOB. During that time, he's scored two goals and doubled his estimated market worth to €1 million. Some recurrent thigh problems have limited him to 18 appearances this season.

Sport Bild also reports that Ruhnert and staff are currently considering extend the loan deal, or outright purchasing, Taiwo Awoniyi from FC Liverpool. The young Nigerian striker's parent club has actually loaned him out seven times, including previous stints in Germany with FSV Frankfurt and FSV Mainz 05.

Awoniyi has had arguably his most successful loan-spell with die Eisernen this season, scoring five goals and bagging three assists in 18 appearances. Ruhnert told Sport Bild that Union would "strive for" for the €4.5 million striker, but that direct talks had not yet begun.

Awoniyi has missed the last sis league fixtures with a muscle strain.

Euro 2024

Bundesliga End of Season Awards

Long reads

Exclusive interviews

Team News