After an anticipated poor start to the 14/15 season, Werder Bremen’s fortunes took an unexpected u-turn when Head Coach, Robin Dutt was sacked in late November and replaced by Werder Bremen II Head Coach Viktor Skrypnyk. Although it was perceived by many to be an enormous gamble on behalf of the Werder board, it turned out to be a fantastic decision as The River Islanders finished in a solid 10th position (falling only five points short off a Europa League place).
It is common knowledge that Bremen must improve defensively if they are to build on their end-of-season form and push for a place in Europe. Their defensive record last season saw them finish joint-top in terms of goals conceded as they ended on 65 goals going against them (along with 18th placed Paderborn). So far, Werder have released more defenders than they have signed; with 19-year-old left-back Ulisses Garcia being the only addition to the squad on a free transfer from Grasshoppers (much to the disappointment of a vast majority of the fans).
Meanwhile, at the other end of the pitch, the Werder Bremen fan-base haven’t been filled with much optimism either. Franco Di Santo, the club’s top-goalscorer last season with 13 goals, has been sold to Bundesliga rivals Schalke for a fee rumoured to be in the region of £4m. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only blow for The Green-Whites, as 2nd top-goalscorer Davie Selke was sold to RB Leipzig for a fee of £6m. The two strikers provided a combined total of 22 goals in the league for Bremen last season (which was just three goals shy of 50%). However, it looks slightly more promising on this front in terms of transfers as the club purchased FC Cologne striker Anthony Ujah for a fee of £3m. The Nigerian international was Cologne’s top-goalscorer last season; providing them with 10 goals in the league. It has also been widely reported throughout the last couple of days by the German media that the club are in talks with Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov on a free transfer, however this is yet to be verified by the club.
Who Should They Sign?
Realistically there are a couple of quality players that I believe Werder Bremen are capable of signing. The first of these is former Aston Villa defender, Ron Vlaar. Although the Dutch centre-back is out for a further three months, he is currently a free agent after deciding not to renew his contract with the Premier League club. In terms of financial resources, Bremen are more than capable of meeting his expected wage demands and would perhaps be willing to go slightly higher due to the fact that there would be no transfer fee involved. The only potential flaw in this deal is whether or not Vlaar would be willing to sign for them. It is being suggested that he is looking for a club that are in the Champions League and unfortunately this could prove to be too big of a stumbling block for Werder.
The other player I believe they should sign is perhaps surprisingly Italian striker Antonio Cassano. The 33-year-old is currently without a club after being released by the liquidated Parma FC of Serie A (now Serie D). Why? With the current coach, Viktor Skrypnyk being the former head coach of Werder Bremen II, it is widely expected that the younger players are going to play a much more important role within the squad this season, therefore an experienced international forward with a proven ability to score goals could be exactly what the Bundesliga outfit need.
The Season Ahead
Overall, it’s hard to predict just how good/bad Bremen will do this season. Pre-season results and performances have been very promising and have filled some fans with a sense of optimism ahead of the opening fixture against Schalke on the 15th August. There is still a question mark however regarding the strength and quality that the squad contains. We will have to wait and see whether the North German club will secure anymore signings before the summer transfer window comes to a climax.