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Five new faces to watch in the Bundesliga this season

A new-look Bayern Munich will enter the 2022/23 season as firm favorites to win their 11th straight Bundesliga title, despite one of the most tumultuous off-seasons in recent memory.

Bayern lost star striker Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona, ​​but the 31-time German champions have strengthened across the park, adding Liverpool forward Sadio Mane alongside Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt, Ajax pair Ryan Gravenberch and Noussair Mazraoui, and French attacking starlet Mathys Tel.

AFP Sport takes a look at five new faces to watch in the Bundesliga as the season kicks off this weekend.

– Matthijs de Ligt –

Bayern wasted no time in reinvesting the 50 million-euro transfer fee Barcelona paid for Lewandowski, bringing in one of Europe’s hottest defensive talents in De Ligt from Serie A side Juventus.

Bayern spent a reported initial fee of 70 million euros ($71.3m) to bring the former Golden Boy winner to Saebener Strasse, making De Ligt the second most expensive transfer in the club’s history.

In addition to adding De Ligt’s defensive strengths, Bayern have secured a leader by signing the 22-year-old. The Dutch international became the youngest captain in Champions League history when he led Ajax against Real Madrid at the age of 19 in 2019.

– Karim Adeyemi –

Borussia Dortmund managed to secure the services of forward Adeyemi from Red Bull Salzburg early in the close season, despite interest from several of Europe’s elite clubs.

Dortmund paid a reported 30 million euros for the former Bayern Munich junior, who can play as a lone striker or on either wing.

While not a like-for-like replacement, Adeyemi’s nose for goals should see him at least partially replace the departed Erling Haaland’s output in black and yellow this season.

Adeyemi, who topped the Austrian scoring charts with 19 goals as Salzburg won their ninth consecutive title, opened his account with a goal in his first competitive appearance for Dortmund as they beat 1860 Munich in the first round of the German Cup on Friday.

– David Raum –

New RB Leipzig addition Raum may just be the addition the German Cup holders need to claim their first ever Bundesliga title in the 2022/23 season.

In just his first season in the top division after being signed from Greuther Fuerth, left-back Raum provided 11 assists and scored three league goals for Hoffenheim.

His performances earned him a first national team call-up, with the 24-year-old quickly establishing himself as a crucial component of coach Hansi Flick’s Germany side ahead of this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Raum was also heavily courted by both Bayern and Dortmund after his stellar 2021/22 performances but said “coming to Leipzig is absolutely the right step for me” when making the move in late July.

– Mario Goetze –

Far from a Bundesliga newcomer, World Cup-winning attacking midfielder Goetze makes his return to Germany with Eintracht Frankfurt after a successful two-year stint at Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven.

Goetze won the Dutch Cup and the Dutch Super Cup during his time with PSV, showing the type of form that won him the Golden Boy award in 2011 and marked him as one of Europe’s top prospects.

Europa League winners Frankfurt will be hoping the five-time Bundesliga champion can bring some much-needed experience and guile to the Eagles, who enter their first ever Champions League campaign this season.

– Maya Yoshida –

Promoted giants Schalke took a major step in ensuring they stay in the top division when they secured Japanese centre-back Yoshida on a free transfer from Serie A side Sampdoria.

Yoshida, who has captained Japan since 2019 and will lead them into their opening-round clash with Germany at the Qatar World Cup later in the year, played for Premier League side Southampton from 2012 to 2020.

Yoshida, 33, replaces fellow Samurai Blue representative Ko Itakura in Schalke’s defence, after Itakura made the move to Bundesliga rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach in July.

On his arrival in the Bundesliga, Yoshida said he was “delighted to wear the Schalke shirt” and declared himself a long-time fan of the Royal Blues, having first watched Atsuto Uchida during his time at the Veltins Arena between 2010 and 2017.