One of the most tumultuous offseasons in recent memory is almost over, and a new Bundesliga season is set to begin. We’ve already seen glimpses of what this new squad can do. Will all of these new signings be enough to replace the losses of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ilkay Gündogan, and Mats Hummels? Will they be enough to challenge in the Bundesliga or the Champions League? Are we better now than we were at the end of May? Let’s break it down:
One of the bigger questions that we’ve faced this offseason is whether or not we can adequately replace Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The question is whether or not the additions of Götze, Schürrle, Mor, and Dembélé are enough to accomplish this. Judging from what we’ve seen in preseason from Schürrle, Mor, and Dembélé, and from what we know that Götze is capable of, I’d say that yes, we have.
After all, if Henrikh Mkhitaryan is being benched for Juan Mata, then how good could he really be?
Unless we signed someone like Ivan Rakitic or Toni Kroos, we were never going to outright replace Ilkay Gündogan. I believe, though, Tuchel does have the ability to re-create Ilkay. What I mean by that is, rather than have one player that can do everything, we now have an ensemble cast of midfielders that together can bring what Gündogan brought to the table (when fully fit and healthy). Rode plays with tenacity and a high work rate. Götze has incredible technical ability. Castro can play box-to-box, and has a touch of offensive prowess. Weigl is a human metronome. Shinji is Shinji.
If all of these players stay healthy, then not only will we have replaced Gündogan, but will also have more depth, variety, and tactical flexibility. Thomas Tuchel no longer has to worry about one player getting injured when he looks at his midfield: there's a whole array of options for him to choose from.
This one’s tricky, because Mats Hummels is undoubtedly one of the best center-backs in the world. Between his defensive strength, his domination in the air,
his occasional mind-numbing gaffes, and his ability to distribute long balls, his presence will be missed.
Enter Marc Bartra.
Before we signed him, I’d only known his name from the time he got absolutely torched by Gareth Bale in the 2014 Copa del Rey final. Between that, and the fact that we only signed him for eight million pounds, I didn’t have high expectations. Then I sat down and actually watched him play... holy jumpin’ this guy is good.
I doubt he’ll be as good as Mats Hummels was right off the bat, but let’s be honest: some of those long balls during the Supercup were just ridiculous. He managed to outshine his replacement in the very first time they met. We should be fine.
Depth, Depth, Depth
We signed 8 players that have the quality to play significant minutes in the Bundesliga. If you look at our depth chart, you’d see that we have enough players to role out a squad that could compete for a Bundesliga title, and an entirely separate squad that could probably land a top six finish. Barring a downright absurd number of injuries, Tuchel should be able to rotate constantly, keeping players fresh and fit. This could pay huge dividends come springtime, when the wear and tear of half a year of football begins to take its toll. If we make it deep into the Champions League, players like Guerreiro or Emre Mor will be crucial coming off the bench, or starting for injured players. That could be the biggest difference between a Semifinal exit and a visit to Cardiff.
What do you think?
Do you agree with my assessments? Was this offseason a success? Will we be able to compete with the big dogs this year? Leave any thoughts in the comments below!