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Top 10 best Bundesliga to Premier League transfers of all time: Ranked

Published at :December 25, 2023 at 9:44 PM
Modified at :January 14, 2024 at 12:33 AM
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Manav Chowdhury

Some of the biggest names came from the Bundesliga to the Premier League in the last 10 years

The Premier League has long since benefitted from the abundance of talent in the Bundesliga and has been dipping into the German market for years for new signings. In the many years that have gone by, the players that have arrived in England from the Bundesliga have generally been a success. Some of the best players in the Premier League have come directly from the Bundesliga. While some of them have been a massive success for their respective clubs, several players have failed to live up to the expectations.

Here we look at the top ten best Bundesliga to Premier League transfers of all time:

10.Pierre Emerick Aubameyang – Dortmund to Arsenal

On 31 January 2018, Aubameyang signed for Premier League club, Arsenal, for a then-club-record fee, reported to be £56 million. He was signed by Arsenal from Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund. He immediately adjusted to the Premier League and shared the Golden Boot in his first full season, when he finished the competition’s joint leading goalscorer, alongside Mo Salah and Sadio Mané, with 22 goals.

Currently, he is plying his trade with Marseille in Ligue 1, the former Arsenal star Aubameyang was stripped of the captaincy. On 1 February 2022, Arsenal announced Aubameyang’s departure from the club by mutual consent.

9. Leroy Sane – Schalke to Manchester City

Sane took a little while to warm up in England after he made the move from Schalke to Manchester City in 2016 but, at his best, he was a key player for Pep Guardiola’s side. He particularly impressed during the 2017-18 Premier League campaign, picking up ten goals and providing 15 assists as the Citizens won their first Premier League title under Guardiola.

However, a serious anterior cruciate ligament injury kept him out for the majority of the 2019-20 campaign, and it soon became apparent that he wanted to return to Germany, where he joined Bayern Munich in 2021. He has had his moments in Bavaria but has yet to quite hit the level many expected him to.

8. Edin Dzeko – Wolfsburg to Manchester City

Džeko is renowned for his physical presence, strength and aerial ability. Although he is mainly known for his goalscoring abilities, he is also a generous player, who has a penchant for providing a good number of assists in addition to scoring many goals. He’s one of the few players in this list who have managed to win both the Bundesliga and the Premier League.

7. Michael Ballack – Bayern Munich to Chelsea

Michael Ballack was already established as one of the world’s best midfielders when he moved to the Premier League. In 2006 at the age of 30, after winning the Bundesliga on three occasions with Bayern Munich, he made his way to Chelsea on a free transfer. Despite seemingly being in the twilight of his career, the German international was fantastic during his time at Stamford Bridge. He was a key man during his four seasons in London despite suffering some injury setbacks and quickly became a fan favourite.

His best time in England perhaps came under Carlo Ancelotti as he won the league in his final season with Chelsea as the Blues did the domestic double that season in sublime form. The end of that season saw him depart London for his old stomping ground of Bayer Leverkusen. There can be no doubting the impact he made during his short tenure with Chelsea, though. The midfielder’s exceptional work rate and leadership remained just as high as it’d been in his prime. 

6. Vincent Kompany – Hamburg to Manchester City

One of the best defenders in Premier League history, perhaps no other player saw as much change at Manchester City as Vincent Kompany. The Belgian joined City from Hamburg in 2008 and was the final player signed before the club was purchased by the Abu Dhabi Group later that summer. A natural leader, the Belgian’s defensive skills were second to none. Despite being hampered by injuries in his later years, Kompany was still phenomenal in the air. He was also tricky for opponents to beat and had a tremendous range of passing.

The Belgian defender arrived as a fresh-faced boy who had a point to prove and was thrown into the deep end. He would suffer for three seasons with City before seeing perhaps the most dramatic title victory in the 2011-12 season as they won the title in the dying seconds of the last day. Currently, he is the manager of Burnley.

5. Erling Haaland – Dortmund to Manchester City

On 10 May 2022, Premier League club Manchester City announced they had reached a deal to sign Haaland after activating his €60 million. He is probably the best player in the whole Premier League, he has already broken many records and now is on the way to breaking many more records. Last time he narrowly missed to win the Ballon d’or.

A prolific goalscorer and widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, Haaland has all the attributes of a complete centre-forward.  He has the pace and clever movement to run in behind, he can dribble and create, and he can finish with both feet and his head. Not many players perform the way Haaland performed in his debut season in the Premier League.

4. Ilkay Gundogan – Dortmund to Manchester City

Ilkay Gundogan Barcelona Manchester City Bundesliga to Premier League transfers
Ilkay Gundogan won the treble with Man City

Moving from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester City in 2016, Ilkay Gundogan was Pep Guardiola’s first signing at the Etihad. Not the flashiest player in the world, the German international’s fee £20m didn’t raise many eyebrows either.

Capable of playing as a deep-lying playmaker, holding midfielder or an attacking option, Gundogan’s versatility has been his biggest strength. After an injury kept him out of action for most of his debut season, he’s gone on to become a City legend. He left City after winning the UCL and now playing for the Catalan club FC Barcelona.

3. Roberto Firmino – Hoffenheim to Liverpool

Roberto Firmino Bundesliga to Premier League transfers
Roberto Firmino moved to the Saudi Pro League in the summer

It seems hard to believe now, but eyebrows were raised when Jurgen Klopp paid £29m to bring Roberto Firmino to Liverpool in 2015. The Brazilian forward had been plying his trade at Hoffenheim, but many doubted his abilities to step up to the next level. He was a key player during Liverpool’s title and UCL winning season.

Firmino is known for his clinical finishing, proficient technical ability and impressive work rate. The Brazilian’s work rate is second to none. The suitability of Firmino’s playing style to Klopp’s pressing system has meant that Firmino was referred to as “Liverpool’s most important player” on several occasions during the 2016–17 and 2017–18 seasons.

2. Heung-min Son – Leverkusen to Tottenham

It might’ve taken South Korean forward Son Heung-min time to settle in at Spurs but it is one of the best signing for them in their history. Signed by Spurs in the summer of 2015 from Bayer Leverkusen, Son’s £22m fee made him the most expensive Asian player in football history at that time. The versatile forward has been deployed in so many positions and has done well so often that it’s difficult to pin down his best starting role.

Son is known for his two-footed ability, explosive pace, positional sense, movement, close control and clinical finishing which make him especially effective on the counter-attack. Now under Ange as well he is performing well consistently.

1. Kevin De Bruyne – Wolfsburg to Manchester City

Belgian international Kevin De Bruyne has undoubtedly taken the hard road to the top of the Premier League. Signed by Chelsea from boyhood club Genk in 2012, he was never given a fair chance at Stamford Bridge. A player brimming with talent was what City saw at Wolfsburg after De Bruyne was named the Bundesliga Player for the Season in 2015 and made the switch to the Premier League that summer.

Although he is not blessed with significant physical strength, pace, or ability in the air, he is a quick and elegant player on the ball with good dribbling skills, while his positional sense, tactical intelligence, movement, direct style of play and ability to run at defences when in possession also enable him to take advantage of spaces in the opposition’s defence and subsequently create chances and goalscoring opportunities for himself or his teammates, making him a dangerous offensive threat on counter-attacks.

Though we have seen plenty of talents from the Bundesliga lighting it up in England, there have been none quite like the Belgian. Even if you leave the accolades aside, his importance to this Manchester City team is staggering.

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