The Bundesliga, Germany’s primary division, is known for possessing a wealth of world-class talent, particularly in way of attack as its average of 3.21 goals per match last season was the highest in the big five leagues.
At the moment, the likes of Jude Bellingham, Florian Wirtz and Youssoufa Moukoko are just some of the under-18 talents that are tearing the league apart on a weekly basis. Such talent does not go unnoticed in the rest of Europe, and Germany exports a lot of players to the other top leagues.
Being one of the most prestigious and well-known competitions in the world, the Premier League naturally attracts a lot of these players to England. Here, we will take a look at the last 10 attackers who have crossed the English Channel from Germany and see how they fared:
Left: Borussia Dortmund
Joined: West Ham United
Date of Transfer: July 11, 2018
Transfer Fee: €20.00m
The first man on our list is ex-Borussia Dortmund man Andriy Yarmolenko, who joined West Ham in the summer of 2018.
The Ukrainian international spent just one season in Germany as he failed to break into the starting line-up too often, so a relative step down was perhaps what he needed. West Ham provided just that, and the move looked to be great for both parties initially as Yarmolenko scored a match-winning brace on his full Premier League debut. In the subsequent month though, he only managed one assist in four games, before an Achilles tendon rupture ended his season very early.
Yarmolenko was back for the 2019/20 season, and he started well yet again as he netted thrice in his first four starts. However, his goals dried up once again, and a torn abductor muscle in December meant that he was out until Project Restart. He made one start and seven substitute appearances thereafter, netting twice.
The ex-Dynamo Kyiv man has only made one start this season, but he does have an assist from his 11 substitute appearances as he has featured in all but four matches he was available for, missing out on four others due to a COVID-19 infection.
Despite his injuries and inconsistent form, Yarmolenko has delivered at some crucial moments. His nine goal involvements for West Ham have been worth 11 points. For the money they spent, though, the Hammers might have wanted a little bit more.
Joined: Newcastle United
Date of Transfer: August 2, 2018
Transfer Fee: €10.70m
The second attacking arrival from Germany in the summer of 2018 was Mainz’s Yoshinori Muto, a promising forward who joined as one of the most expensive signings of Newcastle’s not-so-prosperous Mike Ashley-era. Mainz fans and journalists thought that he was well-suited for the Premier League, but they were quite clearly wrong.
After making six substitute appearances, Muto scored on his full Premier League debut against Manchester United. As it happened, that is his only goal in the league to this day. After blanking in three matches, a calf injury ruled the Japanese international out for three weeks. He never returned to the starting line-up for the rest of the season despite getting a spot on the bench 16 times thereafter.
Muto got just two starts and eight total Premier League outings last season as he was tried out in a variety of positions from striker to right winger but nothing seemed to work for him. Both of his managers in Tyneside – Rafael Benítez and Steve Bruce – were very reluctant to start him, and the latter even sent him out on loan to Eibar before the start of this season.
For a club so tight on money, spending eight-figures on a striker who only returned once in two seasons is just a horrendous piece of business. Then again, when was the last time Newcastle actually did some good business?
Left: Borussia Dortmund
Date of Transfer: January 2, 2019
Transfer Fee: €64.00m
American sensation Christian Pulisic was snapped up by Chelsea in the winter transfer window of 2018/19, but he was allowed to spend the rest of the season at Dortmund on loan.
When he joined Chelsea, Frank Lampard was beginning his tenure under a transfer ban, so he was the only fresh face in the squad except for academy graduates and returning loanees (which Chelsea usually have a lot of). He got off to a bit of a slow start, though, failing to score until matchday 10. When it finally rained for Pulisic, it poured, as he opened his Premier League account with a hat-trick against Burnley.
Chelsea’s ‘Captain America’ netted once each in his next two matches, but those were his last league goals of 2019. 2020 didn’t start too well for Pulisic either – he sustained a tear in his abductor muscle after playing just one match so he too was out until Project Restart.
When he returned, Pulisic was simply on fire. In nine games, he contributed to eight goals, scoring four and setting up as many others.
Pulisic has been a bit disappointing this season, although two separate muscle injuries have kept him out for nearly two months. In nine starts and three substitute appearances, he has only scored once, which certainly cannot be considered good for a man of his talents. With ex-Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel set to reunite with him at Chelsea, fans will perhaps expect those numbers to vastly improve.
Left: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Joined: Norwich City
Date of Transfer: July 1, 2019
Transfer Fee: N/A (free)
The only free transfer in this list saw Josip Drmić leave Borussia Mönchengladbach for newly-promoted Norwich City prior to the 2019/20 season.
With nothing but his wages having an effect on the Canaries’ finances, expectations were relatively low for the Swiss striker, but he managed to underperform even then with just one goal in 21 appearances. Admittedly, that was amidst some torrid times for his hamstring which saw him fail to start until matchday 30, but it still is not good enough.
As is well-documented, Norwich were relegated at the end of the 2019/20 season, and Drmić has had it very tough ever since – he was sent off in his first Championship match and has been frozen out of the squad ever since.
Left: Eintracht Frankfurt
Joined: West Ham United
Date of Transfer: July 17, 2019
Transfer Fee: €50.00m
After impressing thoroughly at Eintracht Frankfurt, Sébastien Haller joined West Ham for quite a hefty fee.
Haller hit the ground running as he bagged a brace in his second league match, following it up with three goal involvements in four matches. He was very unreliable ever since, though, finishing the season with seven goals and an assist in 32 matches. His inconsistency caused David Moyes to convert wing-back, Michail Antonio, into a striker – quite successfully too.
Antonio’s success hurt Haller further, though, as finding a starting spot became even harder for the Ivory Coast international. An injury for the Englishman meant that Haller got a much-needed second chance, but he failed to take it with just three goals in 16 outings, with Ajax snapping him up in January to end his torrid time in London.
For a club-record signing, Haller was an absolute flop and didn’t do much more than disappoint bar the odd spectacular overhead kick goal.
Joined: Newcastle United
Date of Transfer: July 23, 2019
Transfer Fee: €44.00m
If Yoshinori Muto was a bad piece of business for Newcastle, Joelinton was just a horror-show.
The Brazilian forward joined the Magpies prior to the 2019/20 season as their club-record signing (by some margin too), and he finished it as one of their worst signings (perhaps even beating Jean-Alain Boumsong).
He scored in his third Premier League match, but then went what can only be described as an ice age as far as goals are concerned. The Brazilian got his second and last goal of the Premier League season on matchday 30. He underperformed his npxG by 2.8 in the process, so the issue was not the service, it was his finishing.
This season hasn’t been too much better for the 24-year-old forward as he has only netted once in 12 starts and four appearances off the bench, with his most recent Pleistocene beginning on November 27.
Left: Hertha Berlin
Joined: Norwich City
Date of Transfer: January 12, 2020
Transfer Fee: N/A (loan)
Norwich City were already seemingly doomed when the winter transfer window for the 2019/20 season opened as they were sitting not-so-pretty at the bottom of the table, so they dipped into the Bundesliga’s reserves for two attackers.
The first signing saw Hertha Berlin’s Ondrej Duda join the Canaries, with the Slovakian international finding it difficult to break into Berliners’ first team. At Norwich, he was effectively guaranteed that. After nine starts and one substitute appearance, Duda failed to get a single goal or assist, but his overall play was not too shabby.
In the end, this was a positive move for all parties involved – Hertha got a fringe player off their books, Norwich got a much-needed talented attacker and Duda got a chance to display his qualities in England.
Joined: Norwich City
Date of Transfer: January 13, 2020
Transfer Fee: €0.50m
The third Norwich City signing on this list is Lukas Rupp, who joined for a relatively paltry fee from Hoffenheim (who were probably just too busy swimming in the money Joelinton’s sale had brought to care about Rupp’s fee).
The German attacker got eight starts and four outings off the bench after joining one day later than Duda. He too failed to get a single goal involvement, but was tidy on the right wing whenever he was deployed there. He is still with the Canaries in the Championship, and is slowly starting to get better.
Left: RB Leipzig
Date of Transfer: July 1, 2020
Transfer Fee: €53.00m
The first of two Bundesliga-imports that Chelsea brought in this season is Timo Werner, whose deal had already been finalised before the opening of the transfer window.
As we have explored previously, Werner has had a torrid time at Stamford Bridge so far. After winning a penalty on debut against Brighton, Werner was deployed as a left winger in the Blues’ next three matches, failing to score or assist in each of them. He was restored to the centre thereafter, scoring four goals in as many matches, including a brace against Southampton.
Thereafter, though, the German international was puzzling restored to the left wing by Frank Lampard, leading to an 11-match goal-drought that hasn’t ended yet. With Thomas Tuchel taking over, the ex-Stuttgart man should benefit from having a fellow countryman as his coach. Hopefully, he will be back among the Premier League goalscorers soon.
Left: Bayer Leverkusen
Date of Transfer: September 4, 2020
Transfer Fee: €80.00m
The last man we will be rating happens to be the most expensive signing of 2020 – Kai Havertz.
The Bayer Leverkusen sensation joined Chelsea for an alarming sum, but those who had watched him in Germany assured Chelsea fans that his talents were worth the money. Although he scored once and set up two goals in his first three starts, the 21-year-old attacker has failed to come anywhere close to the levels he achieved in Germany so far this season, with a number of factors contributing to that.
The first one is that Lampard has deployed him in four different positions this season, meaning that he has not had a consistent run in one particular role in the starting line-up. Worse yet, a COVID-19 infection in November must have derailed any sort of comfort the German international had in the Blues’ camp, effectively resetting his progress from December.
Like Werner, Havertz should benefit from having Tuchel as his manager, so things can only get better for him now.
Joined: Crystal Palace
Date of Transfer: January 21, 2021
Transfer Fee: €3.50m (loan)
The bonus inclusion in our list is Mainz’s Jean-Philippe Mateta, who has joined Crystal Palace on an 18-month loan with an option to make the deal permanent for €15m. Visa issues have prevented him from making his debut yet, but the physical striker is expected to land in London soon.
There are a few interesting takeaways from this list. First of all, only four English clubs are involved in our 10-man list, with both Norwich City and Chelsea bringing in three Bundesliga players in the last couple of years.
Secondly, it is quite interesting to see that none of the recent Bundesliga-imports have had a huge impact on the league. This is not to say that the quality of talent coming from Germany is poor, the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Leroy Sané, Roberto Firmino, Heung-min Son and Kevin De Bruyne are just some examples of the outstanding Bundesliga-imports in the Premier League.
Irrespective of the past, there is no question that Premier League clubs will continue to scout and recruit talent from Germany, and the aforementioned trio of Bellingham, Wirtz and Moukoko are probably already showing on a lot of radars.