Happy February! Across Europe, the January transfer window has now slammed shut. Like Borussia Dortmund, who brought in Jadon Sancho and Ian Maatsen, several Bundesliga sides have used the January window to add reinforcements going into the second half of contentious season. Bayer Leverkusen looked to add depth as they attempt to dethrone Bayern Munich and lift the Meisterschale for the first time in their history, while Eintracht Frankfurt made several big moves in their attempt to catch up with the Bundesliga’s top four.
Lets take a look at how Dortmund’s closest competitors got on in the transfer window.
In: Borja Iglesias (Real Betis, Loan)
Out: Nadiem Amiri (Mainz)
Bayer Leverkusen hold a two-point lead over perennial champions, Bayern Munich, and came into the January window in pretty good shape. They had one big problem that needed to be addressed: Victor Boniface’s right adductor injury. The Nigerian striker who has led Leverkusen’s lineup with 17 goal involvements injured himself in early January and the club needed a replacement despite retaining their undefeated record across the past two games.
Xabi Alonso’s solution to their missing striker was Borja Iglesias. The Spaniard is coming on loan in a shrewd deal with an €8m buy-option. The 31-year-old has a modest resume with 39 goals across 142 appearances for Real Betis and only two goals this season, both in domestic cups. He is not going to light up the league but his objective is to help Leverkusen’s attack until Boniface is ready to return.
Leverkusen also did a great job retaining their talent during this title run. Their one outgoing transfer, Nadiem Amiri to Mainz, only had one start this season. He is far down the depth charts and nets Leverkusen a €1m profit.
In: Sacha Boey (Galatasaray), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Bryan Zaragoza (Granada)
Bayern Munich find themselves two points behind Leverkusen despite fielding arguably the best starting lineup in the league. Bayern’s problem so far has been their depth and they have not fielded their best eleven in months. They have seen injuries and international duty ravage their defense and midfield. Their solution? Englishman Eric Dier, of course. While this move has been the butt of a lot of jokes, Dier was signed on a free transfer and is serviceable as both a center-back and defensive midfielder. He won’t set the league alight but he will be another warm body in the starting lineup against weaker competition.
To address their problems at right-back, Bayern Munich splashed the cash and brought in Sacha Boey for €35m. The 23-year-old Frenchman will be expected to start in a position where the now-injured Konrad Laimer and Ralphael Guerrero have found minutes in recent matches. Boey highlights the financial differences between Munich and the rest of the Bundesliga - he was a record sale for the Turkish Süper Lig and his purchase meant Bayern spent over €200m in transfer fees across one season for the first time.
Their last signing, Bryan Zaragoza, has six goals and two assists from the left wing for Granada. At 22, he is one for the future but should receive minutes with Kingsley Coman’s most recent injury.
In: Mahmoud Dahoud (Brighton, Loan)
Out: Thomas Kastranaras (Ulm, Loan) and Mateo Klimowicz (Atletico de San Luis)
In their quest for the top four, Stuttgart have had limited funds to make changes during the winter window. Their one acquisition - former Dortmund player Mahmoud Dahoud. The 28-year-old left Dortmund as a free agent in the summer but only played 454 minutes for Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League. He was awful for the Seagulls in limited minutes and was frozen out of the squad by January. He will be used interchangeably with Angelo Stiller and Atakan Karazor at the base of Stuttgart’s midfield. There is no guarantee he will start over either of them but offers a more attacking profile for a side that loves goals.
This deal includes a €10m buy-option for Stuttgart. Shrewd business for the Swabians.
In: Eljif Elmas (Napoli)
Out: Angelino (Roma, Loan), Fabio Carvalho (Liverpool, Loan Terminated), Emil Forsberg (New York Red Bulls), Illaix Moriba (Getafe, Loan), Timo Werner (Tottenham Hotspurs, Loan), Hugo Novoa (Villarreal).
What is most striking about RB Leipzig is their long list of departures. Two club legends, Emil Forsberg and Timo Werner, both leave the club. Forsberg stays in the Red Bull family with his move to MLS side New York Red Bulls while Timo Werner returns to the Premier League after a disappointing return to Leipzig. Angelino also leaves the club on loan but he spent the last six months with Galatasaray. Fabio Carvalho’s loan from Liverpool was terminated after he found limited minutes and Illaix Moriba leaves on loan after not playing a single minute this season. None of these departures should put a dent in Leipzig’s ambitions this season.
Leipzig’s one acquisition? The €24m signing of North Macedonian, Eljif Elmas. Elmas spent the last three-and-a-half seasons at Napoli in Serie A. He found playing time difficult to come by under coach Walter Mazzarri but should play a bigger role for RB Leipzig. Elmas will likely act as depth across RB Leipzig’s attack for the remainder of this season but could play a bigger role in seasons to come, as Xavi Simon’s loan ends this summer.
In: Jean-Matteo Bahoya (Angers), Nathaniel Brown (Nuremberg), Hugo Ekitike (Paris Saint-Germain, Loan), Sasa Kalajdzic (Wolverhampton Wanders, Loan), Donny Van de Beek (Manchester United, Loan)
Out: Paxten Aaronson (Vitesse Arnheim, Loan), Lucas Alario (Internacional), Nathaniel Brown (Back to Nuremberg on loan), Jens Petter Hauge (FK Bodo/Glimt, Loan).
On deadline day of the summer transfer window, Eintracht Frankfurt sold star striker Randal Kolo Muani to Paris Saint Germain for €95m. This meant two things — Frankfurt were sitting on a pile of cash but had no time to reinvest it in Kolo Muani’s replacement. The Eagles have struggled for goals this season as a result. Their 30 goals have been far behind their fellow UCL contenders and puts them eighth in the league for goals scored. Their defence, on the other hand, has been superb, only conceding more goals than Bayer Leverkusen (22).
In the January window, Frankfurt did well to replace Kolo Muani. The most notable signing is Hugo Ekitike, who scored 10 goals and notched 3 assists in 1274 minutes for Reims in 2021/22. A transfer to PSG did not work out for Ekititke and he only got 3 goals across 1153 minutes, mostly as a substitute. At only 21, Ekititke could easily return to form for Frankfurt and help boost their chances of qualifying for the Champions League. Additionally, he is only on loan and it is up to Frankfurt to trigger his €30m buy-option.
Next up is Sasa Kalajdzic. Kalajdzic scored 24 goals in 60 Bundesliga games for Stuttgart before transferring to Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2022. An ACL injury within minutes of signing meant he was sidelined for the rest of the season and has only played 159 minutes for Wolves this season. The 6 foot 7 inch Austrian is the definition of a target man and will give Frankfurt a completely different dimension to both Hugo Ekitike and previous striker Kolo Muani.
Their final purchase at striker is one for the future - the €8m signing of Jean Bahoya from Angers in Ligue 2. Frankfurt have found repeated success in France with their strikers and Bahoya has racked up seven goal involvements in only 700 minutes this season. The 18-year-old will be one to watch in the coming years.
Frankfurt’s departures were limited to several players who saw reserved minutes go out on loan, including once promising Jens Petter Hauge. I think Frankfurt had the best window of the Bundesliga’s top six. They brought in three players of different profiles to solve their goal scoring issues, all without spending too much money. Frankfurt have won two, drawn one, and lost one so far in 2024, including a big win over RB Leipzig to kick off the year. If any one of their strikers are a hit, the Eagles will be making a big push for Champions League.
What was your favorite deal of the Bundesliga window? Which team is your ‘one to watch’? Does Dahoud’s Bundesliga return fill you with joy too?