Last season Arsenal went to Bayer Leverkusen to sign Bernd Leno on what has turned out to be a bargain of a transfer.
This summer Arsenal could do a lot worse than returning to the banks of the river Rhine as they strengthen their squad this summer.
The Bundesliga side have had a tough season, currently off the pace in 6th place having only failed to get Champions League football last season on goal difference. They also had a poor Europa League campaign, suffering as shock exit against Krasnodar in the first knock out stage.
However they have a squad containing some very talented, young players; many of whom are in Joachim Lowe’s current German squad.
There are 4 in particular that Arsenal should target
Arsenal have been heavily linked with German teenager Kai Havertz for the majority of the year.
Many in Germany believe Havertz to be the next big thing, following upo on the last two big things Leon Gortezka and Julian Draxler – both of whom have spent much of their career being linked with Arsenal.
He has been earmarked as the long term replacement for Mesut Ozil in the German national team.
A gifted attacking midfielder capable of playing in all 3 positions behind the striker, he has all but one game for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga this year.
A tall, loping figure, he perhaps reminds me more of Michael Ballack than Mesut Ozil – this year he has developed the knack of scoring goals which Ballack did in his early career before moving deeper.
The ambidextrous midfielder can play all across midfield, winning tackles in defence, switching play and launching attacks with his quick eye for movement, coupled with his anticipation and then precision when delivering the final pass. Havertz has been involved in 17 goals in his 27 games in all competitions this season.
Havertz is certainly a star in the making, but it would take big money to attract him to Arsenal. Big money that could only be raised by selling Mesut Ozil.
The feeling if is Ozil stays, it will be impossible to justify spending big on Havertz who will be understudy for 12 months.
A few years older than Havertz, a little more experienced and probably cheaper.
With Havertz playing behind the striker, Brandt has found himself playing a deeper role, or on the wing this season.
Brandt reminds me of Santi Cazorla (except about a foot taller).
A versatile player who can play on the wing or down the middle, as well as deeper. He does not have the pace of someone like his team mate Leon Bailey, but he makes up for it with excellent movement and technique.
It was Brandt who kept Leroy Sane out of the German World Cup squad last summer.
Brandt would provide excellent cover for Ozil, as well as give Arsenal a deeper, more attacking option to play alongside Lucas Torreira or Granit Xhaka.
He is perhaps a better replacement for Aaron Ramsey than Mesut Ozil.
A year ago Leon Bailey was one of the hottest young prospects in football. Aged 20, he hit 12 goals in 34 games leading many to value him northwards of £40million.
12 months on and his star has dimmed slightly.
Scoring just 4 n 34 this season, it feels like he has gone backwards, however it should be remembered that he is still just 21-years-old.
His rise and fall reminds me a bit of Thomas Lemar, who came into public conscious after scoring 14 in 55 for Monaco, before falling away the next season.
A poor second season did not put Atletico Madrid off, as they spent £52.7 million bringing the Frenchman to La Liga. He has struggled once more this season, making many think he was just a one-season wonder at Monaco.
The story of Lemar is why there are question marks over Bailey.
With electric pace, is he the real deal, a rough diamond that just needs shining like Raheem Sterling, or is he just another in a long line of speedsters who does not have the footballing ability to make it to the top level?
He would be a good signing for Arsenal, and provide us pace and width, but a fee northwards of £30million would be too much.
Would be a huge risk based on one good season a year ago.
So far we have only talked about Bayern Leverkusen’s attacking options, but one player well worth Arsenal looking at is giant central defender Jonathan Tah.
Once billed as the next big defensive talent in Germany, Tah has been overtaken by Niklas Sule and Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger in recent years, but he remains a skilled and strong, if error-prone centre back.
Tah would provide some pace alongside Sokratis tough defensive mind; and at just 23-years-old could become a rock for the future.
He would automatically be helped by playing between German speakers Sokratis and Saed Kolasinac.
Comfortable with the ball at his feet, and capable of bringing the ball out of defence and launching attacks, he could be the perfect long-term replacement for Laurent Koscielny – who incidentally could also be described as “error-prone”.
Top defenders are a race commodity in the current game, and worse players than Tah will go for much bigger transfer fees this summer.
Tah reminds me a younger Virgil van Dijk. Physically imposing but makes errors.
Van Dijk is now 27-years-old. Give it 4 years and Tah will also be a beast of a defender.