Hertha BSC: The Preview
The Bundesliga season is just a matter of days away, so it’s time to preview every side ahead of another exciting campaign.
Today… Hertha BSC
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The Story of Last Season:
Bar getting relegated, just about everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong for Hertha BSC last season. Two managers were sacked, three derbies were lost, and the fans even demanded the squad to hand in their jerseys at one stage.
Somehow though, through the sheer fortune of Germany’s out-dated relegation playoff, Hertha BSC were able to wipe the slate clean and now stand tall in the Bundesliga once more.
Their 10th consecutive topflight campaign beckons, and it all starts again from 0.
The Star Player:
Not a lot of players were able to impress in a Hertha side which looked disjointed, egoistic, and aimless last season, but Suat Serdar was arguably one of the solitary stand-outs.
Having signed from the even more disastrous Schalke 04, the 4-time German international seemed to learn his lesson from the previous campaign, refusing to allow his own level to drop despite the haphazard displays playing out all around him.
With 2,225 minutes Serdar was right up there amongst the team-leaders for minutes played, while his solid return of 3 goals made him the joint-top goalscorer amongst all defenders and midfielders within the club.
Reunited with Sandro Schwarz - the manager with whom Serdar enjoyed his breakthrough season at Mainz 05 - one will hope that the 25-year old midfielder can carry over his solid form into the new season and set a standard for the remainder of the squad.
The U23 One to Watch:
Sandro Schwarz is no stranger to working with young talent, giving not only the aforementioned Serdar his big break in German football, but also the likes of Abdou Diallo, Ridle Baku, and Jean-Philippe Gbamin.
Thus, young talent should profit off this move, one of them being 22-year old Jurgen Ekkelenkamp.
Ekkelenkamp, a former Dutch youth international signed from AFC Ajax last summer was a bit-part player at best last season. The youngster started just 6 Bundesliga matches, never once went the full 90 minutes, and didn’t even feature in the squad for either of the relegation playoff ties against HSV.
The talent is undeniably there though, and with a manager focused on instilling an identity in possession, Ekkelenkamp’s creative excellence could finally come to the fore. With no other attacking midfielder in the squad bar retirement ready K.P. Boateng (35), this could be the year for Ekkelenkamp to make his big Bundesliga breakthrough.
Almost the entire Hertha squad will be battling for a Bundesliga future next season, but few have as much on the line as 24-year old Dodi Lukébakio. A 4-time Belgian international who just two seasons ago cost €20m, Lukébakio hasn’t just stagnated in his time at Die Alte Dame, but taken a grand leap backwards.
His attitude and defensive application are routinely questioned, and even a loan spell with VFL Wolfsburg last season couldn’t solve Hertha’s expensive misfire. Lukébakio scored just one goal all season, and failed to start a single game in the rückrunde once it became clear Die Wolfen weren't going to extend his stay at the Volkswagen Arena.
Now at his lowest market value since 2018, and with only speculative links to the likes of Olympiacos and Royal Antwerp, all the signs point to Lukébakio remaining at the Olympiastadion next season. At 24 the former Anderlecht super-talent must take the next step in his career, and Sandro Schwarz will be hoping to rely on the want-away right-winger now that all 3 alternatives have been ruled out for the first competitive fixture this Sunday.
The Key Signing:
Sporting–director Fredi Bobic noted ahead of the summer the importance of thinning out the roster - using the transfer window to get high-earners off the wage bill and only moderately supplementing the squad in key areas.
So far the first half has been completed to questionable success, but a couple of interesting additions have come through the door as promised.
Nigerian international Chidera Ejuke is probably the most exciting, but Filip Uremović is the most likely to be first team ready. The 25-year old centerback was club captain at Rubin Kazan, won a Slovenian title with NK Olimpija Ljubljana, and has 6 caps for the Croatian national team. His versatility across the backline, and strong leadership qualities, mean he should see solid gametime despite the strong competition in central defence.
The Key Departure:
Omar Alderete and Krzysztof Piątek are two players Hertha are still desperate to get off the wage bill, but one already confirmed departure has caused a bit more disagreement within the fanbase.
Javairô Dilrosun was inconsistent and oft-injured since signing from the Manchester City youth academy in 2018, but his last loan-spell at FC Girondins Bordeaux was actually quite impressive.
After arriving on matchday 5, Dilrosun was on the pitch for 32 of the 34 matches in the Ligue 1 season, and ended the campaign with the 4th most goal contributions, and second most assists in the squad. With so little quality in wide positions, the 24-year old could have played a substantial role this season rather than be sold for just €4m to Feyenoord Rotterdam.
The Season Verdict: 12th Place
The European football and Bundesliga titles which were promised back in 2019 when investor Lars Windhorst stepped into the club are now a long way away from the current reality at Hertha BSC.
Despite an almost €374m investment, of which a vast portion went to the playing squad, Die Alte Dame looked worse off last season than at any other point in their decade-long stay in the topflight.
Now though, Fredi Bobic seems to have a plan for slowly rebuilding the capital-club’s fortunes. The solid appointment of Sandro Schwartz, and the focus on reducing the high-earners within the squad shouldn’t lead to an exciting campaign next season, but perhaps that’s exactly what Hertha need after the terrible roller coaster ride over the last 12 months.
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