Five players with a point to prove in the Bundesliga

Gareth Bale snubbed at Wales player of Year Award

With the start of the new Bundesliga season just around the corner, we’ve picked out five players who will be looking to prove their doubters wrong..

Mario Götze (Borussia Dortmund)

It’s the most talked about transfer of the summer: Mario Götze’s return to Borussia Dortmund. After three seasons at FC Bayern München, the attacking-midfielder – now 24 – has the chance to resurrect his career with the club who gave him the opportunity.

Given the circumstances around his departure, Götze’s return has split opinion. But as expected, the balance is shifting in support of the player. The old adage of ‘once he wears the shirt, we’ll back him’ sounds about right in this situation. The World Cup winner has done enough apologizing, and he admitted that he made the wrong decision to leave.

This transfer could go either way: it could be seen as a rash move from Dortmund, or Götze could become a superstar again. But this is the time in his career when he has to deliver on a regular basis.

Davie Selke (RB Leipzig)

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Davie Selke had barely played a season’s worth of football at SV Werder Bremen before he joined RB Leipzig in the second division for eight million euros. It was a transfer that raised eyebrows – and rightly so. However with Selke now in the Bundesliga as part of Leipzig’s highly-rated team, it’s perhaps time to revisit this assessment.

The 21-year-old, part of Germany’s Olympic team, was instrumental in Leipzig’s promotion last season. A less than prolific goalscorer, the towering Selke links the play well and can take up positions across the attack. His impact at Werder Bremen after coming through the ranks was short, but notable.

Many questioned Selke’s motives for taking a drop down the leagues. But now the striker has a chance to prove the doubters wrong.

Yunus Malli (Mainz)

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If you had suggested in January that Yunus Malli would still be at 1. FSV Mainz 05 ahead of the new season, it would have given off the impression that something would go wrong in his career. The 24-year-old attacking-midfielder wasn’t far off a move to Borussia Dortmund in the January window, but Mainz didn’t want to sell without a replacement.

Six months on, there appears to be no suitors for Malli. Given his age and development trajectory, the Turkish international would almost certainly offer something to a Champions League club. But with the Bundesliga opener two weeks away, the number ten looks set to be in a Mainz shirt at Dortmund.

No move for Malli suggests he needs to do more this season to show how good he is.

Takashi Usami (Augsburg)

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For new observers of the Bundesliga, Takashi Usami could be one of many Japanese players in Germany’s top flight. But this is actually familiar ground for the 24-year-old, who completed a return to the Bundesliga following a successful spell with Gamba Osaka.

After Shinji Kagawa made his mark at Borussia Dortmund, the J-League became an obvious source of talent. At the age of 19, Usami was brought in by Bayern, but he could only manage three appearances for the German champions. A stint at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim wasn’t impressive with just two goals in 20 games for the club. It was an experiment that didn’t pay off as Kagawa did for Dortmund.

Three years on, Usami is wiser and coming off the back of great form in Japan. He will have learned from his first stint in Germany – the cultural and physical differences from Japan – and certainly will be more prepared for the challenge ahead at Augsburg.

Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen)

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The 25-year-old cost Bremen over four million euros in 2015, but his return was disappointing. That, of course, has little to do with the striker who spent almost all of last season injured. Johannsson has made small steps on the road to full fitness as he aims to shake off a hip injury to help the River Islanders, who go to Bayern on matchday one.

Johannsson arrived in Germany with a solid reputation. He scored 38 in 84 games for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar and looked primed to impress in the Bundesliga. Two goals in six games is not remarkable, but it was a sign that he had the quality to make an impact at Werder Bremen. His development may have stalled since injury, yet that won’t curtail the hopes Bremen have for the striker.

The biggest issue for Johannsson is fitness. He has taken part in bounce games in training, but is still a few weeks away from any kind of intense training. If he can eventually get himself in top condition, he has something to show.

Ross Dunbar
@rossdunbar93

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