Before the start of the last season everything seemed fine for Eintracht Frankfurt. They had just finished the 2014/15 season in 9th place, even though they had a "problematic" season according to the club themselves. Then coach Thomas Schaaf was reportedly having problems with some players, so he left at the end of the season and was replaced with Armin Veh, a fan-favorite and one of the most successful Eintracht-coaches of recent years. He was supposed to stabilize the club prepare it for a brighter future. Oh well...
What should have been a transition-season that prepares the club for bigger things to come quickly turned into a nightmare. Frankfurt played horribly for most of the season and even an experienced coach like Veh couldn't turn it around anymore. After the 25th game with the club sitting at 16th place, he was let go and replaced with Niko Kovac, his brother Robert was appointed as assistant coach. With the Kovac-brothers at the helm Frankfurt managed to win some games but couldn't escape the relegation-zone entirely. They finished the season in 16th place, forcing them to play 1.FC Nürnberg for the right to stay up in the first division of German soccer. In two very close games they managed to remain victorious and stay in the 1.Bundesliga.
So will Eintracht Frankfurt battle relegation once again or will this season be a bit more calm?
Transfers in (fees per transfermarkt):
Taleb Tawatha - Maccabi Haifa ( €1.2 Million)
Omar Mascarell - Real Madrid ( €1 Million)
Danny Blum - 1.FC Nürnberg (Free Transfer)
Branimir Hrgota - Borussia Mönchengladbach (Free Transfer)
Guillermo Varela - Machester United (Loan)
Ante Rebic - AC Fiorentina (Loan)
Jesus Vallejo - Real Madrid (Loan)
Michael Hector - FC Chelsea (Loan)
Thoughts: Well this is arguably the most ragtag group of additions not just this year in the Bundesliga but possibly ever — no joke. Frankfurt just lost some quality players this summer, and they decided that the best way to make up for that is to bring in a bunch of unproven players.
Mascarell could be a smart pick-up for Frankfurt, he's a good DM who could solidify their midfield. When it comes to the rest, unless you count Hrgota, who was a rotational player for Gladbach or Rebic, who has been loaned out to the third different team in three years, none of those players have significant experience of playing in a top 4 league.
Tawatha has played in Israel for his entire career and honestly I can't really tell you much about him, he's their "biggest" transfer though at least when it comes to money spent which is an interesting decision. Hrgota, Rebic, Vallejo, Varela and Hector are all interesting players. All of them are young talented players that come from some of the best youth academies in the world, with enough playing time they could develop into great players. Although the question remains if it is a smart choice to bet on young and unproven prospects to replace some of their best players. In addition, with most of them joining Frankfurt on loan deals most of them could be gone if they play well next season.
Other Notes: Frankfurt is still looking to add one or two center-backs and another winger according to their coach Niko Kovac. Lustenberger (Hertha), Hinteregger (RB Salzburg) and even young American Matt Miazga (Chelsea) are just some of the names mentioned as possible additions to shore up their defense. Other then a rumor linking young Olympics stand-out Serge Gnabry to a move to Frankfurt, there isn't much known about their search for another winger.
Carlos Zambrano - Rubin Kazan ( €3.5 Million)
Stefan Aigner - 1860 Munich ( €3 Million)
Luca Waldschmidt - Hamburger SV ( €1.3 Million)
Aleksander Ignjovski - SC Freiburg ( €0.75 Million)
Sonny Kittel - FC Ingolstadt ( Free Transfer)
Thoughts: Ouch! Eintracht lost some key players this summer and worse, some of them were sold under market value.
Zambrano has been the glue that kept this defense together and working for several years now. Although he can be considered a hothead at times he was still one of the best players on this squad and could be considered a leader for this team. One player that was definitely a leader for Frankfurt was Stefan Aigner. He's a player that will be dearly missed, not only because he's been an integral part of their squad last year but also because he's been a leader and a fan-favorite ever since his debut for Frankfurt. Luca Waldschmidt was one of the biggest talents coming out of their academy, losing him for a relatively low fee and not being able to implement him into the squad in some capacity is worrying.
Ignjovski and Kittel were role players that just weren't in the plans of the Kovac-brothers anymore. The same can be said about Constant Djakpa and Änis Ben-Hatira, the contracts of both of those players ran out without them being offered an extension. In total Eintracht Frankfurt has lost players that appeared in 126 games for them, that is a big turnover.
Other Notes: Other than occasional rumors about Timothy Chandler and Luc Castaignos, which aren't very substantial, there are no plans to sell any more players.
Eintracht Frankfurt barely escaped relegation last year. With the loss of some established players and the lack of obvious replacements for them it is hard to imagine this season being any easier for them. On the other hand if some of those young players that joined them on loan develop quickly and if Alexander Meier keeps outrunning Father Time they could also be the surprise team of the season, but don't bet on it.