Germany is the place to be. Not only for the Oktoberfest, the food and the rich culture. For football fans, the country embodies the spirit of how the modern game should. Their technical prowess, their tactics and their tenacity to eke out a win is what we have come to admire in the Germans.
The World Cup is theirs and they have no intention of stopping the train just now. They have a young crop of players who look as promising as the one they already have. The German juggernaut will take some stopping. It's a flowing stream of talent. You might as well stand by its banks with a bucket rather than a spoon.
Where does Newcastle come in all this? Well, they don't really. We intend to, we have made statements, asked around but nope; not there yet. Incidentally, the last two really worthwhile forwards we have signed have had good reputations in the Bundesliga: Demba Ba at Hamburg (whom we later signed from West Ham) and Papiss Cisse, who was a goal machine at Freiburg.
We have been constantly linked with players from that region and thus I decided to have a talk with The Bundesliga Fanatic, one of the most reputed blog in those part of the woods.
The kind Niklas Wildhagen lent me both his ears and his time to answer a few Newcastle related questions about the players in the Bundesliga.
Straight off, Antonio Rudiger: How good is he? Is Newcastle a right club for him?
NW: Well, he debuted last season for the national team and has now featured in three internationals for Germany. He is very good in the air, decent with the ball at his feet and he's great in one on ones. If he stayed he and Timo Baumgartl could be one of the most exciting centre back pairings to follow in the Bundesliga next season. Both such young players, and both with a massive upside.
Right now I do believe it looks like he might be staying, that has been the official line coming from the club anyways. Sporting director Robin Dutt has been reluctant to sell him, and even second place Wolfsburg didn't have a chance to pay the transfer fee Stuttgart were demanding.
I think a player like Rüdiger would like to take the next step in his career very soon and that includes playing Champions League football on a regular basis. Right now I don't believe that Newcastle would be the right choice for him.
And what about Joel Matip? Do you believe that Newcastle's interest in the player is real?
NW: Well, right now Schalke do have 6 central defenders to fill those two spots. Felipe Santana is probably the number one player Schalke want to get rid off, and I don't think they wouldn't mind cashing in on Matip to be honest. He is sometimes terribly out of position, combine that with the fact that Höwedes might not be the quickest guy and the two of them might not be a terribly good fit.
Having said that, Matip has his good sides, too. He's good on set pieces both defensively and in attack and when he's challenged in one on ones he doesn't give much away. It wouldn't surprise me though if Breitenreiter chose to place him on the bench, given the many options he does have at hand at the moment.
Will he really make the Newcastle defence better? An upgrade over Coloccini?
NW: To be honest, I haven't really watched Newcastle in a long time, so I wouldn't feel qualified to comment on if he'd be an upgrade over Coloccini.
We also missed out on Pierre Michel Lassoga last summer. I truly didn't rate him. Do you think we really missed out on something?
NW: Lasogga had a great year at Hamburg prior to Newcastle's interest in him, but last season was truly dreadful for both him and the club. The money spent by HSV hasn't been paid back, yet, one can safely say. I think he needs to be fed and he needs the players around him to play for him, if that is the case he can tuck them away, but at the end of the day I think he's the sort of striker we'll see less and less of all around Europe, because he doesn't have that ability to be a vital part of many phases of the game.
We have seen many reports in the local press at Newcastle suggesting the club to be targeting Germany where they want to grow. Yet, the last players to join from there was Cisse in January 2012.
How is the club perceived in those parts? Do you think there will be any players moving from the Bundesliga to Newcastle this summer?
NW: Well, the interest in Matip was reported a few weeks ago and nothing much has happened since. I wouldn't exclude the possibility of a Bundesliga player moving, but we'll have to wait and see. Traditionally most English clubs are really gearing up their purchases towards the end of the transfer window, so there's still a lot of time left and a lot can happen. Furthermore, McClaren used to work in Germany and he has still a few good contacts there from what I hear.
To our delight as well as surprise, we pulled off a few really great signings in Wijnaldum, Mitrovic and Mbemba. What do you make of them, if you have seen or scouted them
I have seen Wijnaldum play for PSV and the Dutch national team a few times. He seems like a really great creative player who would be an asset to most teams. He started off by scoring a goal in his first match for Newcastle if I'm not mistaken, I was really surprised that he didn't join a bigger team.
Mitrovic had been linked to a few German teams in the past if I'm not mistaken. I saw him a few times in the Champions League, but he really didn't get an awful lot done in those matches. His numbers are great though, so I think Newcastle might be a good place for him to take the next step.
Mbemba I have seen a few times as well, he seems to be a very solid player.
So any chance we can pry Rudiger away in a similar deal? Well, that would be my dream buy. N I would really like to get him in black and white
Never say never, but I think Stuttgart are keen on keeping him for at least one more season.
Let's re-visit a old target of ours. Were we really ever in for Bas Dost? Would Wolfsburg have sold such a vital cog?
Possibly, but I think Bas Dost was most of all trying to pressure the club given that he now has to compete against another striker in Max Kruse. Wolfsburg have no desire to sell him and I don't think he was really wanting to leave the club. Dieter Hecking put it nicely when he said: Since I've been here Dost has said that he could possibly leave the club ahead of every transfer window and he's still here.
We spoke a bit more about general stuff and exchanged some pleasant words before closing the conversation. You should really give Bundesliga Fanatic a follow on Twitter and Niklas as well for all things Bundesliga.
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