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Köln Season Preview: Once more with feeling

1. FC Koeln v Werder Bremen - Bundesliga Photo by Mika Volkmann/Bongarts/Getty Images

Cologne is the fourth biggest sports club in Germany. With almost 80.000 members, the club boasts about its long tradition and rich history, it's influence on German football and being one of the important clubs in Germany. In fact, they won the first ever Bundesliga title in 1964 and have been prominent on the international stage in the late seventies and eighties, winning the German Double in 1978 and losing the UEFA Cup final in 1986. However, after that the club slowly descended down the ranks in the Bundesliga and finally were relegated to the second Bundesliga in 98. This relegation started Colognes era as "Fahrstuhlmannschaft" (elevator team) - between 1998 and 2013 they were relegated AND promoted five times between the first and second league. Since then, under the Austrian coach Peter Stöger, they have worked very hard to remain in the league and so far have managed to procure stable midfield results in the last two Bundesliga seasons.

Fortuna Koeln v 1. FC Koeln - Pre-Season Friendly
Firm grip on the team - Peter Stöger
Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images

Transfers Summary

Transfers out: (fees per transfermarkt)

Yannick Gerhardt (age 22, to Wolfsburg, 13 mil)

Kevin Vogt (age 24, to Hoffenheim, 1.5 mil)

Dusan Svento (age 30, to Slavia Prag, free)

Bruno Nascimento (age 25, to Omonia Nikosia, free)

Daniel Mesenhöler (age 20, to Union Berlin, free)

Philipp Hosiner (age 27, to Stade Rennes, end of loan)

My thoughts: With Yannick Gerhardt they have sold a youth prospect to league rival Wolfsburg for a nice chunk of cash. With their solid youth department, they can usually rely on getting a talented player up the ranks to cash in on, this is one of those cases. The rest of the players leaving are more to be seen as offloading players from the roster that are not needed any more. Especially Svento no longer fit into Stöger's plans any longer.

Bulgaria v France - Toulon Tournament
French talent Sehrou Guirassy for Karneval Country
Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

Transfers in:

Sehrou Guirassy (age 20, from OSC Lille, 3.8 mil)

Marco Höger (age 26, from some weirdo place in central Ruhrgebiet, 1.3 mil)

Konstantin Rausch (age 26, from SV Darmstadt, free)

Artjoms Rudnevs (age 28, from Hamburger SV, free)

Marcel Hartel (age 20, promoted from youth team)

Lukas Klünter (age 20, promoted from youth team)

Sven Müller (age 20, promoted from youth team)

Salih Özcan (age 18, promoted from youth team)

My thoughts: This is the classic "Kölner Klüngel" strategy. Getting a hodgepodge of proven Bundesliga players that are available for cheap and filling up the roster with talent from their second team. Only exception to this is Guirassy from Lille, their biggest expenditure this year. Still suffering from a minor knee injury, Peter Stöger and the other club officials seem to put a lot of trust into this newcomer, especially after some iffy transfer drama with Lille official who seemed to downplay Guirassy's injury

Season Prediction

Cologne is never easy to predict. Their transfer strategy is far from being spectacular. There's a lot of new young players from the club's youth teams. However, they can also rely on a number of prominent players. Timo Horn, one of the most prominent young German keepers, Jonas Hector, German international, former Dortmund midfielders Milos Jojic and Leo Bittencourt and of course their main goal threat Anthony Modeste will make sure that Die Geißböcke will go into the season with high hopes. I see them in a solid midtable position in the end. Relegation will never be a serious threat.

Prediction: 10th place.