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2017-18 Bundesliga Preview: Can Wolfsburg Turn Their Struggles Around?

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Wolfsburg fans will be hoping for a bounce-back season.

Fulham v VfL Wolfsburg - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Harry Murphy/Getty Images

As part of our season preview, we will be profiling all 18 clubs in the Bundesliga, and how we think they will fair during the coming season. Today, we will be focusing on VFL Wolfsburg.

Last Season

The 2016-17 season was nearly a disaster for VFL Wolfsburg. They only escaped relegation in a dramatic playoff win against Eintracht Braunschweig. Even then, their season was a disappointment. Dieter Hecking, who had led them to a second place finish just a couple years before, was sacked in October after a dreadful start. His interim replacement, Valérian Ismaël, couldn’t help revive the team either. Finally, in February, the club hired its current manager, Dutchman Andries Jonker.

During the winter transfer window, star winger Julian Draxler left for Paris Saint-Germain, and Daniel Caligiuri left for Schalke. In the second half of the season, their struggles really took off.

Simply put, they couldn’t score. Of all Bundesliga clubs, only Hamburg and lowly Darmstadt scored fewer goals than the wolves. Furthermore, they were far to reliant on striker Mario Gomez, who was responsible for 16 of their 34 goals (nearly 50%). Their next best goal scorer was Daniel Didavi, who scored 4 times. While their defense was at least respectable, their offense couldn’t keep up. They finished 16th in the Bundesliga.

Transfer Summary

Transfers In

  • John Brooks (€17 Million)
  • Ignacio Camacho (€15 Million)
  • Nany Landry Dimata (€10 Million)
  • William (€5 Million)
  • Marvin Stefaniak (€2 Million)

Transfers Out

  • Ricardo Rodriguez (€18 Million)
  • Luiz Gustavo (€10 Million)
  • Jannes Horn (€7 Million)
  • Diego Benaglio (No fee)

As you can see, Wolfsburg were quite busy this transfer window. The signing of John Brooks was their biggest addition. The 24 year old American is a quality defender in the prime years of his career. Another signing I like is Nany Dimata. The 19-year-old Belgian had 11 goals in 24 appearances in the Belgian Pro League for KV Oostend. He has the potential to become a quality player in the coming years, and could sub for Mario Gomez at Center Forward.

Leaving them are their longtime features Ricardo Rodriguez and Luiz Gustavo. While both are quality players, their transfers were clearly imminent throughout last season and were going to occur. Yannick Gerhardt and Ignacio Camacho will fill in for Rodriguez and Gustavo respectively.

Outlook

Next season has the potential to be a resounding success or a dismal failure. The additions of John Brooks, William, and Camacho will help their defense. The biggest question mark going forward remains offense: will midfielders Yunus Malli, Stefaniak, Didavi, and Ntep chip in more goals, or will they have to rely on Mario Gomez again? If Gomez is injured, will Dimata be ready to contribute at the Bundesliga level? How will Manager Andries Jonker perform now that he has had a summer to prepare?

Prediction: 10th Place

The answers to these questions will decide how well Wolfsburg perform this season. I predict somewhere in the 7th-11th range.