Bundesliga European Football

Bundesliga Team of the Season Part 4: Honorable Mentions

Das Besten of die Resten

Welcome back to the final part of our Bundesliga Team of the Season, where, after another delay that we apologize for, we will be wrapping up the team with our honorable mentions. The variety of top performers throughout the Bundesliga this season means we get a variety of honorable mention players from a few different clubs.

Péter Gulácsi (RB Leipzig)

Gulácsi will likely finish with the most clean sheets of any Bundesliga keeper, and deservedly so. Leipzig are a stout defensive team, and while the Hungarian shot-stopper gets plenty of help from the talented players ahead of him, he is a very solid keeper in his own right. I do believe he has still had a better season than Manuel Neuer or Kevin Trapp, who were very close to making this team as well, but much of what makes the Hungarian stand out statistically is also partially thanks to the incredibly talented defense that is in front of him. Similarly to how I selected Emi Martínez over Ederson, Koen Casteels just seemed to do a better job this season of actually being a goalkeeper than Gulácsi did. That might be a harsh way of putting it, as he is still very good, but I think he could not be put in over Casteels.

He is still very good, though, and I want to make sure that message comes across. Ever since Leipzig were promoted to the Bundesliga, Gulácsi has been a solid and calming presence between the posts. While his clean sheet numbers were not always this good, which is partially due to how attacking and fast-paced previous Leipzig teams were, he was still quite a good goalkeeper. His reflex saves did help bail out the Red Bulls on more than one occasion. Not bad for someone who was a benchwarmer at Liverpool a decade ago.

Christopher Trimmel (Union Berlin)

Union Berlin have enjoyed the best season in their club’s history this year, and while there’s a very good chance that it will not end with European football at the end of it, it still shows that Die Eisernen might be here to stay in the German top flight. Central to Union’s success in their 3-5-2 system is their wingbacks, and the main star in that role is 34-year-old Christopher Trimmel, who was surprisingly among the best fullbacks in the league this season. Having signed for Union back in 2014, Trimmel has seen the entire journey for this team from perennial upper-mid table second division team to now, and he has seemingly beaten back father time to remain a high level player at his age.

He unfortunately was not quite as good of an attacking fullback as Ridle Baku, who made the starting team over him. Baku is lightning on the right, an incredibly dangerous attacking player, while also being surprisingly solid defensively, more so than Trimmel. The Austrian is not bad by any means, and his assist numbers are quite staggering for a player of his age, but it is hard to include him over Baku. He still deserves his recognition, especially for how important he was in a fantastic season for Union Berlin.

Martin Hinteregger (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Martin Hinteregger is basically the old reliable of the Bundesliga. He is a player loved by many, partially because he does not look much like a professional footballer. He does not look very athletic, and he is big and strong but looks quite awkward. And he is one of the best center backs in the Bundesliga.

He is not good enough to get into the team, but he is still quite an impressive player. Obviously very good in the air, but he is still athletic enough to work in Eintracht Frankfurt’s back three and good enough of a tackler to be one of the most solid defensive players in the league. He has often been a very regular goalscorer due to his aerial ability, and while he did not put up big goalscoring numbers this season, he still has that threat on attacking set pieces. The issue is there were at least two center backs that were much better than him. Orbán and Lacroix have both been outstanding, and it is impossible to keep them out of the team. Still worthy of praise, he finds himself among the honorable mentions.

Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich)

He had to be here. Leon Goretzka is simply outstanding. He is one of the best German players, let alone German midfielders, currently playing in world football. He has grown significantly, both as an athlete and as a technical player, since he moved from Schalke to Bayern. He has also grown as a person, taking time this season to be outspoken politically in Germany.

But this is about football, and he is a fantastic player. He covers quite a bit of ground, he is solid going forward and solid defensively, and he seemingly has all of the tools and traits needed to be a complete footballer. He paired very well with Thiago last season, and he has carried over that chemistry to this season and his partnership with Joshua Kimmich. His energy and well-rounded skillset allows him to work well in a double pivot alongside a deep-lying playmaker like Thiago and Kimmich. He is simply fantastic. The potential for Germany’s midfield in the future is really staggering.

Wataru Endo (VfB Stuttgart)

The Bundesliga, especially very recently, has been known for bringing players in from Asia, specifically from South Korea and Japan, and turning them into top players at several teams. Shinji Kagawa, Makoto Hasebe, and Heung-Min Son are among the most recent famous examples, and there are two more players in this team that are carrying on that tradition.

The first is Wataru Endo, who arrived in Stuttgart on loan last season and arranging a permanent move before this season. He has been very crucial in Stuttgart’s team, maybe the most important player that is not their main attacking stars. And it is a bit weird, because he does not strike you as much of a player. He is not short, but he seems to be a bit nondescript next to other players, sort of like N’Golo Kanté. And, very similar to Kanté, he is very good at winning the ball. In basically every way.

Leading the league in tackles while also being near the top in interceptions and pressures and still being among the top in progressive passing, Endo is maybe the best defensive midfielder in the league. He may not have a strong enough argument to unseat Joshua Kimmich from the starting team, but his argument is quite compelling. He is such a strong defensive player, a force of nature almost, and he is truly deserving of his place here. He is unlucky that the case for Müller, Kimmich, and Kostić was so strong, as he may have been the fourth midfielder on the list had I chosen to play a different formation.

Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt)

And we stick with the Asian player theme by talking about a player on the other end of the pitch. Daichi Kamada is basically the attacking player not named Silva, Kostić, or (in the second half of the season) Jović, but he is arguably just as important. The assist numbers speak for themselves. Joint-second in assists, ironically tied with Kostić, Kamada has been a central player in Eintracht’s attack basically since Ante Rebić and Sébastien Haller left the club, important to how the attack ties together and feeds the goalscoring demon that is André Silva.

The thing that holds Kamada back from making this team is his own goalscoring output. 12 assists is very good for a forward, but five goals is not, especially when you are competing against Thomas Müller. Now, you might ask why Kostić and not Kamada, and that is a tough question. The stats are fairly similar, but the peak performance of Kostić has been higher, hence why he won league player of the month. Kamada is also a great player, potentially one that could make a fairly underrated move away should Frankfurt need to sell players after not making the Champions League, but it is unfortunate that he has to be kept out.

Wout Weghorst (VfL Wolfsburg)

So here is the first of the two unfortunate strikers to miss out. Wout Weghorst is a fantastic player, and one that very clearly catches the eye when watching Wolfsburg for multiple reasons.

Mainly because he is 6’6″, but not just that. He is a deceptively graceful player, solid enough on the ball to operate the best as a target man while also combining well with his teammates in the build up play. He also has 20 goals this season, which is still very good despite obviously paling in comparison to the utterly hilarious numbers put up by Lewandowski, Håland, and Silva. 20 goals in 33 games would be a very good return for any high-level striker. He scored about a third of Wolfsburg’s goals this season, and while Wolfsburg are known more as a defensive team, Weghorst’s contributions are honestly quite underrated and maybe a bit under-appreciated when considering the reasons why Wolfsburg ended up in the Champions League.

He misses out because his goalscoring record is good, but not hilariously absurdly good. A shame, really.

Andrej Kramarić (TSG Hoffenheim)

Here is another great player who just was not able to be otherworldy great, but he still deserves a special mention.

Andrej Kramarić has been wildly underrated over the years. He is not world class by any stretch, but he is a very good and very dependable player. Yeah, he flopped a bit at Leicester, but he has been incredibly consistent and dependable for Hoffenheim since arriving at the club in 2016. Even when Hoffenheim are not that good, as they were this season, he is still very consistent. 19 goals in 27 appearances is very good, over a third and nearly half of the goals scored by Hoffenheim this season. He even won a player of the month award earlier in the season.

He is just not as good as the ridiculous strikers ahead of him in the goalscoring charts. Even though he does play as more of a center forward and brings more assists to the table than many of the players ahead of him, it just is not enough to get him into the team. He deserves special mention, though, because he was still very good despite his team being mid-table mediocrity. Maybe without him, Hoffenheim are dragged into a relegation fight.

And there you have it, the Team of the Season for the Bundesliga, plus several honorable mentions that were unlucky to not make it into the team. Agree with my choices? Think I left someone out? Let me know in the comments!

Join us next week as we delve into a league that is near and dear to my heart, the French Ligue 1…

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