Bundesliga News

"Kicker" releases list of 18 "winners" from each club's training camp

By Peter Vice

With the start of a new German Bundesliga campaign approximately 48 hours away, German footballing magazine Kicker released its list of 18 players who excelled in their club training camps.

One player from each club was deemed the "winner" of the preparation phase.

How did some of the preseason prep work of the Bulinews team mesh with that of the eyes of on-site experts? Let's find out!

Mahmoud Dahoud.
Mahmoud Dahoud.Photo: Marco Verch, CC BY-SA 2.0

Germany's preeminent footballing publication has had correspondents embedded in each Bundesliga club's training camp throughout the preparation phase. On Wednesday, all filed personal selection for the player who completed the most successful camp. The Gold Standard of German footballing journalism thus has its "breakthrough candidates" for the coming season.


Here at Bulinews, we've also been hard at work preparing for the 59th edition of the German Bundesliga. We've selected our tips for the best gems at  every position in five articles as part of a comprehensive preview in our fantasy football section. Additionally, we previewed all 18 clubs in great detail in a series of five articles as part of our regular tactics column.

If you'd like to catch up with our takes ahead of the new season, everything can be accessed via a directory page that provides hyperlinks to all ten articles along with our new fantasy YouTube program!

Here are Kicker's selections:
FC Bayern München: Tanguy Nianzou, CB

The 19-year-old center back appears ready to go after two injury riddled seasons and an unfavorable position on the depth chart. Used only six times since being purchased 18 months ago, he's now projected to start alongside Dayot Upamecano. Kicker notes that Nianzou really proved what he was capable of in camp and the pairing with Upamecano seems to work favorably.
Additional Info:

Nianzou also served as our "Pick to Click" in our Bayern preview section.
Borussia Dortmund: Mahmoud Dahoud, CM

The German international should have a starting spot locked down. Many were impressed with both his pace and surgical precision on long balls during the second half of last year's campaign. Kicker reports that the 25-year-old has really stepped in up in camp. Moreover, he's put in some great work on duels, looked very secure on the ball, and seems to be in a creative/confident mood.
Additional Info:

Dahoud rebuffed many other offers from large clubs to extend his Dortmund contract this summer. Entering the prime of his career, the twice capped German is precisely where he wants to be.
RasenBallSport Leipzig: Mohamed Simakan, CB

The newcomer from Racing Straßburg had to shake off an early injury, but has gone full throttle ever since getting back on the pitch. New Leipzig trainer Jesse Marsch picked the young Frenchman to start over Lukas Klostermann in the recent Pokal fixture. It seems reasonable to assume that Simakan and Willi Orban constitute the new center back pairing.
Additional Info:

Marsch has been rather keen on Simakan since the beginning of camp. It didn't take long for the new American head-coach to find one of his favorite players.
VfL Wolfsburg: Ridle Baku, RB/RM

The sky is the limit for a player so many Germans find themselves enamored with. Hopes remain high that Baku break's into Hansi Flick's national XI soon. Kicker notes that the 23-year-old absolutely tore it up in camp. The Mainz native soon gets a chance to strut his stuff on the grand Champions' League stage.
Additional Info:

A certain Bulinews reporter absolutely adores Baku and writes about him endlessly. Ridle was also our "Pick to Click" in our Wolfsburg Preview Section.
Eintracht Frankfurt: Evan N'dicka, CB

Assuming Oliver Glasner sticks with it, the Frankfurt back three of N'dicka, Martin Hinteregger, and Lucas Silva "Tuta" Melo should be a forced to be reckoned with this season. Kicker notes that the trio have put a lot of time in together. Despite a lackluster performance in the Pokal loss, the 21-year-old Frenchman remains absurdly talented. He appears poised to follow up one solid campaign with an even better one.
Additional Info:

N'dicka's superb work during the second half of last season saw him get special recognition in no fewer than seven of our weekly tactical columns!
Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Jeremie Frimpong, CB

The 20-year-old Dutch right-back made only four starts last spring after being purchased from Celtic in January. Regrettably, the young prospect fell victim to a injury curse of sorts that plagued Leverkusen right-backs in 2020/21. Kicker reports that he's now fit and is almost surely Gerardo Seoane's first choice to start wide right in the defense.
Additional Info:

Frimpong is one of our recommended mid-range purchase options in our fantasy tips for defenders.
FC Union Berlin: Andreas Voglsammer, LS

Here's a surprise. The veteran striker cut loose by relegation candidates Bielefeld this offseason has been netting goals in Union test matches. The 29-year-old seems determined to push on with his career and prove that he can be a top flight attacker. His rugged and dogged playing style appears a perfect fit for die Eisernen. He looked great in the Pokal too, starting alongside Taiwo Awoniyi with Max Kruse behind as the ten.
Additional Info:

Voglsammer proved a late season surprise with his play at Bielefeld last spring. He earned shout-outs in three of our tactical columns.
Borussia Mönchengladbach: Joe Scally, RB

No surprise here as many noticed the American teenager's great camp. Head-coach Adi Hütter praised Scally for doing excellent work on his unnatural side during Monday night's Pokal fixture at Kaiserslautern. After successfully filling in for the injured Rami Bensebaini on the left, the NYFC product can be considered a candidate to start on either flank as a fullback. With his speed, he could even deputize on the wing.
Additional Info:

Scally was our "Pick to Click" in the Gladbach preview section. He also one of our recommended fantasy picks in the section on defenders. He'll receive a deep-scout review every time he plays in our "Americans in the Bundesliga" Column.
VfB Stuttgart: Atakan Karazor, CB

Interesting choice here as Waldemar Anton ordinarily runs the pivot position out of Pellegrino Matarazzo's back-three. Kicker notes that the 24-year-old got some extra work in whilst Matarazzo and the training staff were waiting for captain Wataru Endo to return from the Olympics and an injury to Orel Mangala meant that someone else had to fill in at midfield. Matarazzo devised an odd anchoring midfield role for him in the Pokal, but the Essen native responded with a strong performance.
Additional Info:

Although Stuttgart's American trainer basically used Karazor as a straight-arrow plug-in whenever Anton was unavailable last season, the Bochum academy product can actually play higher up in midfield. Stuttgart's tactics--by virtue of the fact that they are coached by an American--are always analyzed in our "Americans in the Bundesliga" column. A review of Matarazzo's interesting--if not peculiar tactics--will be published in another preview piece tomorrow.
SC Freiburg: Yannik Keitel, DM

Every German footballing enthusiast knows that this 21-year-old possesses all the tools to be a top-class player. What's been lacking up until now is the playing time. Kicker opines that Christian Streich can no longer keep him out of the XI; especially not after he turned in such a strong performance working alongside Baptiste Santamaria in the Pokal.
Additional Info:

Freiburg's camp has been most intriguing. We cover some of the other exciting youngsters possibly on the precipice of a breakthrough in our Freiburg preview column, in which we also tip the Breisgauer to qualify for Europe.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim: Dennis Geiger, DM

The German U21 international seems spry and fully recovered from his thigh surgery. Sebastian Hoeneß appears to be trying to construct a pocketed double-six setup in which Geiger and Bayern academy pluck Angelo Stiller feed newly centralized ten Christoph Baumgartner with verticals. This could translate to an active and productive season.
Additional Info:

Geiger's injury saw a very promising career path de-railed. If he returns to the previous form exhibited for club and (at youth level) country, the 23-year-old could still hope to be once again touted as one of European football's rising stars. A regular place in midfield will help immensely.
FSV Mainz 05: Jonathan Burkardt, CF

One of Germany's prime prospects at the youth level caught some flak, along with other players, for declining a call-up to the failed summer Olympic squad. It would nevertheless appear that the 21-year-old made a good choice to report immediately to his club's camp. Working alongside veteran striker Adam Szalai, Burkardt bagged a brace in Mainz's Pokal victory.
Additional Info:

Burkardt is a fabulous budget sleeper option for your fantasy team. We wholeheartedly endorse him in our section on Bundesliga strikers.
FC Augsburg: Frederik Winther, CB

"Winther is coming". The exciting young Danish prospect has been tested in camp and passed with flying colors. Should something happen to either Felix Uduokhai or captain Jeffrey Gouweleeuw, head-coach Marcus Weinzierl knows just where to turn. The 20-year-old even netted his first competitive goal in German football in Saturday's Pokal victory. There should be no doubt that he'll get his chance soon.
Additional Info:

Winther is also our "Pick to Click" in our Augsburg preview section.
Hertha BSC: Davie Selke, LS

How about this? The striker much maligned for his underwhelming 18 months spent at SV Werder Bremen has suddenly found new life. Kicker reports that trainer Pal Dardai has taken a shine to him in test matches and on the training pitch. The game-winning-goal in Hertha's weekend Pokal fixture is sure to see him ride into the season with confidence.
Additional Info:

We've listed Selke as an excellent budget option in our fantasy section on Bundesliga strikers. Everyone expects Hertha to make another purchase for the attack after the sale of Jhon Cordoba. If Fredi Bobic opts to stick with Selke and back the 26-year-old for a comeback, it would make for quite the sensational story.
Arminia Bielefeld: Fabian Klos, CF

On the topic of great story, last year's 32-year-old Bundesliga rookie--as expected--had some difficulty adjusting to life in the top flight. He nevertheless worked hard to eventually add three Bundesliga goals to the 156 he's scored in Germany's lower footballing divisions. Kicker reports that the captain--a legendary hero for his club--continues to leave it all on the pitch in training. He scored one goal and assisted on another in Arminia's wild 6-3 win over Bayreuth in the Pokal.
Additional Info:

We paid special tribute to Klos in our weekly tactics column when he finally scored his first Bundesliga goal. The attacker counts as one of Germany's all-time greatest "cult footballers". Virtually all Bundesliga footballing enthusiasts across the Bundesrepublik look forward to seeing if he can carry his team to safety this year.
FC Köln: Jan Thielmann, CF

Steffen Baumgart surprised everyone by giving the 19-year-old winger an audition as a lead striker in the weekend Pokal fixture. Despite not getting on the scoresheet, the youngster looked very energetic both on the press and the track back. Kicker notes that the teenager has looked very good on the training pitch. Baumgart may use him as a regular striker this season.
Additional Info:

As we note in our fantasy section on midfielders, one really can't go wrong with a "secret striker" in reserve on your team.
VfL Bochum: Takuma Asano, LW

The "Jaguar" returns. Back in the European league where he enjoyed a great deal of success, the 26-year-old former Stuttgart and Hannover professional has settled back in nicely. After all of the work permit issues with Arsenal and an unhappy end to his time in Belgrade, Asano understandably plays like a footballer with a point to prove. He's looked sharp in his new deployment on the right.
Additional Info:

We discuss Asano's new role on the right in our Bochum preview section. The tactics of trainer Thomas Reis are evolving in a most interesting fashion. The Japanese international may soon have a new axial partner on the wing in the form of former Paderborn prodigy Christopher Antwi-Adjei. The newly promoted side could furnish some surprises this year.
SpVgg Greuther Fürth: Hans Nunoo Sarpei, DM

"Shrewd, agressive, and in top fitness." These are the words used by the Kicker staff to describe the Ghanian in camp. The versatile 22-year-old popped up a couple of years ago with two appearances for VfB Stuttgart during the 2018/19 campaign. He finally broke through for Fürth last year, putting in time as a six, a sweeper, and even at central defense. He may be one of Stefan Leitl's key moveable cogs this season.
Additional Info:

Newly promoted Fürth also receives extended coverage in one of our preview sections. Given that the team actually features two Americans, there will be plenty of coverage of the Kleeblätter in our "Americans" column this season.


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