Sanches, Dembele, Embolo – Meet Bundesliga’s hottest young prospects

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Graphic: Bundesliga
Attracting some of the biggest and brightest talents world football has to offer, the Bundesliga’s great and good left no stone unturned during the recently closed summer 2016 transfer window. A number of new recruits have already gone through the initiation process, while the rest eagerly await their chance to make the Bundesliga stage their own on Matchday 2 this weekend.
 
Stealing a march on the opposition and setting the standard for all upcoming transfer dealings, defending champions FC Bayern München had not long put the seal on a record fourth successive Bundesliga title when they announced the headline-grabbing double signing of Borussia Dortmund captain Mats Hummels and SL Benfica starlet Renato Sanches.
 
Photo Credit: UEFA
Photo Credit: UEFA

A two-time Bundesliga champion and FIFA World Cup winner, Hummels hit the ground running on his second debut in the famous red of Bayern with a goal in the 5-0 win at Carl Zeiss Jena in the DFB Cup first round, before keeping a clean sheet in the 6-0 rout of SV Werder Bremen on Matchday 1. UEFA EURO 2016 Best Young Player of the Tournament Sanches watched on in awe from the Allianz Arena bench, but could feature against FC Schalke 04 on Matchday 2 after recovering from a thigh strain sustained in Portugal’s surprise EURO triumph over France.

 
Shaken but not stirred by the loss of their skipper, Dortmund kicked off their season with an Andre Schürrle-inspired win over 1. FSV Mainz 05. The Germany international midfielder laid on both goals for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in his first league outing as a BVB player following his intra-Bundesliga move from VfL Wolfsburg – one of eight high-profile names to join the club during the summer months.
 
Photo Credit: dailymercato.com
Photo Credit: dailymercato.com

Among those is another European champion in the form of marauding left-sider Raphael Guerreiro, who made a brief cameo on Matchday 1. Electric 19-year-old forward Ousmane Dembele has also swapped Ligue 1 for the Bundesliga, Spain international centre-back Marc Bartra has jetted in from FC Barcelona to pick up the baton from the departed Hummels and Mario Götze is back where it all began after three stop-start seasons at Bayern.

 
Looking to bridge the gap on their Ruhr district neighbours, Schalke have turned to Swiss wunderkind Breel Embolo. The 19-year-old forward, who featured in all four of Switzerland’s games at EURO 2016, is widely viewed as one of Europe’s top talents and has already scored for his new employers in the first round of the DFB Cup.
 
Photo Credit: Schalke 04
Photo Credit: Schalke 04

Similarly determined to force their way back into the UEFA Champions League reckoning, Wolfsburg have brought in prolific former VfB Stuttgart and Bayern striker Mario Gomez from Besiktas JK and ex-Hamburger SV defender Jeffrey Bruma. Gomez finished top scorer in the Turkish Süper Lig last term, while Netherlands international Bruma missed just eight league games in his three seasons for a PSV Eindhoven side that won the domestic double in 2015/16.

 
Hamburg will hope Bruma does not turn out to be the one that got away, although a handful of eye-catching new signings should alleviate any concerns. USMNT international striker Bobby Wood scored with his first shot on goal on his Bundesliga debut in the 1-1 draw with FC Ingolstadt 04 on Matchday 1, a game that provided a taster of things to come from Croatian whizz Alen Halilovic.
 
Photo Credit: abendblatt.de
Photo Credit: abendblatt.de

HSV have since acquired Olympic gold medal winner Douglas Santos from Atletico Mineiro. The 22-year-old left-back is the latest in a long line of Brazilians to tread the Bundesliga boards, and could not wish for a sterner Matchday 2 test of his credentials up against a Bayer 04 Leverkusen outfit bolstered by the arrival of Austria international Aleksandar Dragovic. The uncompromising central defender has previously represented Austria Wien, FC Basel 1893 and Dynamo Kyiv, and also brings substantial Champions League experience to the table.

 
Bundesliga permanence takes precedence over rubbing shoulders with Europe’s elite for ambitious top-flight newcomers RB Leipzig for now, but a recruitment policy that has enticed players of the ilk of Guinea international powerhouse midfielder Naby Keita to the Red Bull Arena bodes very well indeed for their long-term prospects. A home Bundesliga debut against revamped Dortmund will provide an early indication of their potential.