Bundesliga’s Latest Exports Further Showcase Talent On Offer



Archie Rhind-Tutt looks at the success of recent Bundesliga exports to other major European Leagues.

Have you heard the one about the Icelandic, the Russian and the Senegalese?

This sounds like the precursor to a joke, and a poor one at that.

However, it is in fact the introduction to three of the Premier League’s latest success stories and in turn, the Bundesliga’s too. For Gylfi Sigurdsson, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Papiss Demba Cissé have all made significant impacts since arriving in January.

With the former of the trio, Gylfi Sigurdsson, it’s more of a return to England – except he’s playing in Wales (it’s never simple in football, is it?). Reading nurtured Sigurdsson into a dangerous Championship player before the Icelandic moved to Hoffenheim in August 2010. There, he scored with his first touch, a 20-yard free kick against Kaiserslautern, to earn his new club a draw.

His immediate impact at Swansea City then is less surprising where he’s been an astute addition accumulating six goals and three assists. Playing just behind the striker means marking Sigurdsson can be difficult. The Icelandic attacking midfielder even picked up the Barclays Player of the Month Award for March, reiterating how well he’s performed on his return to English football.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="434" caption="Hoffenheim's Gylfi Sigurdsson"][/caption]

Pavel Pogrebnyak though is playing in England for the first time in his career although his excellent start at Fulham would suggest otherwise. The Russian hasn’t just posed problems to opposition players but also to the media. Whilst defenders have found it hard to control the burly forward, commentators struggle to pronounce his name. Fulham fans have taken the sensible step in calling him “The Pog”.

The Russian striker scored with his first five shots on target, meaning he has five goals in eight appearances. In the process, he also now holds the record for the shortest amount of time to reach five Premier League goals (three games). This is remarkable considering in the Bundesliga this season, he had only scored a penalty for Stuttgart in 14 appearances. Taking into account he doesn’t speak English either, it’s been a terrific start for “The Pog.”

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="372" caption="Former Stuttgart man Pavel Pogrebnyak"][/caption]

Not speaking the language though doesn’t seem to matter as Papiss Demba Cissé has illustrated. The Senegalese moved to England with a large Bundesliga pedigree. Cissé had nine goals in 15 games this season. In the last campaign, he was the second highest goal scorer with 22, only trailing Bayern Munich’s Mario Gomez.

Perhaps more defenders should have taken heed of the warning which the new signing’s strike partner, Demba Ba, tweeted on the arrival of Cissé.“I think even when he sleeps, he thinks about the back of the net.” Cissé’s record for Newcastle of seven goals in seven appearances demonstrates Demba Ba wasn’t joking either.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="434" caption="Former Bundesliga boys - Papiss Demba Cisse & Demba Ba"][/caption]

Now the success of Sigurdsson, Pogrebnyak and Cissé is testament to the work of the three managers who attracted them to Swansea, Fulham and Newcastle respectively. From a Bundesliga perspective, the trio’s success shows the calibre of player available in Germany. This includes home grown-talent and those from abroad who come and make their name in Germany. After all, the aforementioned trio are just the latest to succeed in foreign terrain having spent some years in Germany. In England for example, Edin Dzeko and Demba Ba both have impressive records after relatively short periods in the Premier League.

With German talent settled in the Bundesliga, foreign players are more susceptible to being drawn to the Premier League. After all, this is where the money is and this is a driving factor behind many footballers’ decisions. This isn’t to stereotype and say Germans don’t have the same desires but many up and coming stars will want to ensure they’re under the watchful gaze of Joachim Löw in Germany.

Maybe they have noticed what has happened to the likes of Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira - two national team players plucked from Werder Bremen and Stuttgart by Real Madrid, showing that with some patience and consistent good performances, La Liga’s elite could well call.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="397" caption="Another big Bundesliga export - Mesut Özil"][/caption]

Whilst the Premier League may have the money, La Liga’s technique is superior. Such is the style of football promoted in Spain it acquiesces with the high technical ability of the top players in the Bundesliga. Whilst Özil, Khedira and Piotr Trochowski (Sevilla) are German examples, the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Nuri Sahin have all made moves to Spain from the Bundesliga in recent years.

The fact players are moving to La Liga and the Premier League is evidence of the Bundesliga’s current strength. The trio of Cissé, Sigurdsson and Pogrebnyak have come from clubs which are not in the top six of the Bundesliga (Freiburg, Hoffenheim and Stuttgart) neither in terms of ranking nor in terms of the quality of the squad.

Shinji Kagawa is at Borussia Dortmund, a very good top six side, and is regarded as one of the best players in the division. The Japanese playmaker is being linked with a move to the Premier League as he dithers over whether to sign a new deal with the German Champions. Attracting players of his calibre to the Premier League would be a major coup for any club. The problem for these potential suitors is that Germany is a cosy place to be for those playing regularly in a team in the higher echelons of the Bundesliga.

Whilst the Bundesliga needs players who go to the Premier League to perform well to further prove the quality in the league, the top sides in Germany need to ensure they’re able to keep hold of their star talent. That said, the success of Sigurdsson, Pogrebnyak and Cissé will only increase the growing positive reputation of the Bundesliga.
Jon

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