Premier League clubs have often looked to the Bundesliga for potential signings, with the current transfer window having already seen some notable figures arrive from Germany.
Manchester United appear to have finally landed their man in Jadon Sancho, whilst Liverpool have bolstered their backline with the £36m capture of promising centre-back Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig.
Last summer’s transfer window also saw a series of high-profile moves involving players from Germany’s top flight, including the arrivals of names such as Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Thiago Alcantara.
Each of that trio have someway to go to join this list however, following indifferent debut seasons after swapping the Bundesliga for the Premier League.
In fact, a number of high-profile players have struggled to adapt to life in the English top-flight with the likes of Shinji Kagawa, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sokratis, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan all failing to live up to the hype.
That being said we shouldn’t forget that some of English football’s finest imports have come from German football. In the last 10 years, names such as Edin Dzeko, Marko Arnautovic, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Joel Matip, and Christian Pulisic have all made the short flight north-west with varying degrees of success.
With this in mind we’ve decided to profile five of the best Bundesliga to Premier League transfers:
Eyebrows were raised when Tottenham Hotspur forked out £27 million for Bayer Leverkusen’s star winger in August 2015, making Son the most expensive Asian footballer in history in the process.
Spurs were coming off the back of a decent first season under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino and were attempting to build on their 5th-place finish. Looking to add some much-needed firepower to support the goal-scoring exploits of emerging star Harry Kane, Sonny fit the bill nicely.
He didn’t set the world alight in his first season in north London, scoring just eight goals in 40 appearances, but that didn’t matter too much, as Spurs secured a 3rd-place finish and a return to the Champions League for the first time in five years.
The following season, Son started to prove his worth. He scored 21 goals in 47 appearances in all competitions and helped Spurs to a runners-up finish in the Premier League, finishing seven points behind eventual winners Chelsea.
Since then, Son has continued to go from strength to strength to develop into one of the finest forwards in the Premier League. The South Korean has scored 107 goals in 280 appearances during his time in England, including a career-best 17 in the Premier League during the 2020/21 campaign.
Last season proved the best of Son’s time in the Premier League so far after providing 27 goal involvements in 36 starts, forming a scintillating partnership with Harry Kane – assisting one another a record-breaking 14 times during the season.
Since Ilkay Gundogan’s arrival at Manchester City in June 2016, he’s been an unassuming and underrated presence in the club’s midfield. However, the 2020/21 season saw the Germany international seize a prominent role in City’s title challenge, scoring a career-best 17 goals in all competitions as Pep Guardiola’s side secured a third title in just four seasons.
After becoming Guardiola’s first signing at the Etihad – a £20 million arrival from Borussia Dortmund – Gundogan has amassed 210 appearances in all competitions, scoring 39 goals in the process.
The classy midfielder came to Manchester having already tasted Bundesliga success, playing a key part in Jurgen Klopp’s title-winning side of 2011/12, and he has since added an FA Cup, four EFL Cups and three Premier League winners’ medals to his collection.
Named in the PFA Team of the Year last season, Gundogan is one of the best midfielders in English football at present.
After Robert Lewandowski confirmed he would not be renewing his Borussia Dortmund contract back in February 2013, the Bundesliga side were on the lookout for a new star striker and secured the services of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Saint-Etienne.
Aubameyang proved an inspired signing after firing 141 goals in just 213 appearances, leading Dortmund to two successive German Super Cups and finishing the 2016/17 season as the Bundesliga’s top scorer.
Rumours predictably began to surround the forward’s future with speculation circulating that one of the Europe’s finest finishers was on his way to the Premier League.
Following a month-long will-he-won’t-he saga, Arsenal managed to secure the signature of the much-coveted Gabonese international on January 31, 2018, for a club-record fee reported to be £56 million. Arriving to much fanfare, Auba hit the ground running, scoring five times in his first six games for the Gunners, becoming the first player in the club’s history to do so.
Arsenal’s main-man has been one of the few highlights in an otherwise drab period for the north London club. He won the Premier League’s Golden Boot during the 2018/19 season after scoring 22 league goals, a figure he equalled the following season following a prolific period at the Emirates.
Named as club captain during the 2019/20 campaign, Aubameyang’s goals helped inspired Arsenal to FA Cup success as the Mikel Arteta era got up and running, the forward netting braces in the semi-final and final victories over Manchester City and Chelsea respectively.
Following a disappointing season last term, Arsenal fans will be hoping the 32-year-old can replicate his previous performances this term and add to an impressive record of 85 goals in 148 games.
Roberto Firmino’s transfer from Hoffenheim to Liverpool was finalised for £29 million on July 4, 2015, as part of a somewhat scattergun approach to recruitment as manager Brendan Rodgers clashed with the club’s transfer committee.
Firmino’s start to life on Merseyside proved underwhelming, but the arrival of Jurgen Klopp – a manager familiar with his talents from the Bundesliga – as manager just months into his Liverpool career proved the catalyst for an upturn in fortunes.
The Brazilian was utilised as the furthest forward player in Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3 system, the attacking midfielder converted into a false nine with his intense running and intelligent link-play making him the ideal focal point.
The arrivals of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah over the next two summer transfer windows saw Firmino become one-third of the Premier League’s most feared forward line, a combination that would bring Liverpool huge success.
Narrowly defeated by Real Madrid in the 2018 Champions League Final, the Reds went one better the following year, defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in Madrid to win European football’s top prize.
The year after that, Firmino formed part of the side that secured a drought-breaking championship as the Reds won their first Premier League title and first top-division crown in three decades.
Liverpool’s number nine has provided a unique spearhead for the best team of the club’s modern era, scoring 87 goals and providing 69 assists in 292 appearances, leaving memories of the poor side he joined firmly in the rearview mirror.
Kevin De Bruyne
If we thought eyebrows were raised when Son joined Spurs, then when Kevin De Bruyne joined Manchester City from Wolfsburg in August 2015 for an earth-shattering club-record fee of £54 million, those same eyebrows were raised so high you couldn’t see where eyebrows stopped and hairline started.
In fact, you just need to take a look at Jeff Stelling and the boys’ scathing comments on Soccer Saturday at the time of the transfer. Phil Thompson said: “The world is going mad. The money they are paying for this boy is absolutely bonkers.” Paul Merson backed that up with: “I just don’t see £50 million for this player. I really do not see it at all.”
With those words ringing in his ears, the Belgian midfielder set about proving them wrong, and by scoring 67 goals and providing 107 assists in 262 appearances, boy has he done that.
De Bruyne has established himself amongst the very finest players in world football at the Etihad, winning City’s Player of the Season accolade on three occasions and joining Premier League legends Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo in becoming only the third player to win the PFA Player of the Year award in consecutive campaigns.
No player has ever reached 50 assists in the division in quicker fashion than the brilliant Belgian, who entered the all-time top 10 last season – whilst his average of 0.43 assists per game is far superior to any of the nine players he is bidding to catch.
The heartbeat of a City side who have set all manner of records and should rightly be regarded amongst the best of the Premier League era, the three-time title winner remains arguably the crucial component of Pep Guardiola’s side as they bid for further success.
Not bad for a Chelsea flop, eh Merse?