From Keegan and Raul to Sadio Mane – Superstars Bundesliga
The Germans prefer to raise their own stars, both from local players and from talented foreigners signed at a tender age – the way of Lewandowski, Holand and many others. Transfers of world soccer superstars to clubs from Germany remain rare, so the question of Sadio Mane’s status is basically relevant. The Senegalese will take his rightful place in the list of notable Bundesliga newcomers, but is unlikely to be the first.
Kevin Keegan (England) Liverpool – Hamburg 1977
Keegan moved to Germany in his prime at the age of 26. By this point in his career Kevin had five seasons at Anfield and a hundred goals scored for Liverpool. He became a three-time champion of England with the “red”, recognized player of the year in his country and took the Champions Cup immediately before leaving for Germany. That decision came as a surprise to many.
Hamburg paid 500,000 pounds for Keegan and got the player who won two Golden Balls in a row – in 1977 and 1978. The English forward contributed to victories in the Bundesliga and the German Cup, but did not drag in the Champions Cup final: Hamburg lost with a minimum score to Brian Clough’s Nottingham in 1980. The dinosaurs conquered the European top three years later without Kevin Keegan.
Jean-Pierre Papin (France) AC Milan – Bayern 1994
Papin was 30 when he joined Bayern. Jean-Pierre won a scattering of trophies with Marseille and AC Milan, including the 1994 Champions League, crowned by a brilliant 4-0 win over Cruyff’s Barcelona in the final match. In addition to team titles, Papin had the Ballon d’Or in 1991, was the top scorer in the French championship for five years in a row and scored the most in three consecutive Champions Cup titles.
Alas, in Munich, Papin did not confirm his star status. And to be completely honest, the first Frenchman in the ranks of Bayern failed. Jean-Pierre played 40 games in two seasons and scored 6 goals, but at the end helped the Munich team to win the UEFA Cup and even entered the starting lineup for the first final match against Bordeaux. Spent 70 minutes on the pitch and got a yellow card.
Arjen Robben (Netherlands) Real Madrid – Bayern 2009
It was difficult to regard Ribery as a star at the time of his move to Bayern, Frank already found his status in Munich, but Arjen Robben, before moving to Germany, played for Chelsea and Real Madrid and was the champion of three countries (first title won in the Netherlands with PSV), so the transfer of 25-year-old Dutchman was an event for the Bundesliga. Over the next ten years Robben became a legend at Bayern and in the German league, winning 21 trophies, including the Champions League in the 2012/13 season.
Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands) Real Madrid – Hamburg 2010
Another Dutchman arrived in Germany from Madrid in the middle of the 2009/10 season. Van Nistelrooy has been scoring goals for PSV, Manchester United and Real Madrid for ten years on an industrial scale. He became champion in the Netherlands, England and Spain, winning the scoring race in all three championships and the Champions League at the same time. The aging Dutchman was no longer as impressive at Hamburg but was never let in the dirt: Rood scored 17 goals in 44 games in a season and a half.
Raúl (Spain) Real Madrid – Schalke 2010
Six months later Real Madrid sent another superstar and true club legend to Germany. Jose Mourinho took charge of Madrid and frankly told the legendary Raul that he did not see him in his team. Gonzalez was forced to leave the Santiago Bernabeu after 16 seasons, 360 goals and three Champions League victories. At the time, Raúl was the top scorer in Real history.
The Spaniard decided to continue his career in Germany and he did not go wrong as he spent two happy seasons for Schalke: he won the German Cup and the Super Cup with the Cobalt side, dragged his new team to the semi-finals of the Champions League, scored 20+ goals in each season. Worked with Ralf Rangnick, after all. Raul arrived in the Bundesliga at the end of his career, but he fully confirmed his star status.
Luca Toni (Italy) Fiorentina – Bayern 2007
Luca Toni won the World Cup in Germany in 2006, and a year later he moved to the home of Italy’s triumphant national team to play for Bayern, who offered him a five-year contract. At the time of his move to Munich, Toni was the reigning world champion, had won the European Golden Boot and was considered a top forward. Luca scored 39 goals in his first season for Bayern, but then Louis van Gaal arrived and the Italian began to have practice problems, leading to a premature return to Italy.
Xabi Alonso (Spain) Real Madrid – Bayern 2014
Xabi Alonso is the most titled player ever signed by a Bundesliga club. At the time of his transfer to Bayern, the midfielder had already managed to win the World Cup and two Euros with the Spanish national team, took the Champions League with Liverpool and Real Madrid, not to mention more “minor” titles. The Basque transfer was Real Madrid’s answer to the signing of Toni Kroos. Strategically, the Madrid side were left with the advantage because of the age difference between the two midfielders, but the experienced Xabi has spent three seasons confidently at Bayern: 117 games, 9 goals, 5 titles.