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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Bundesliga preview: Axel Witsel one of five key signings by German clubs

Ahead of the start of the 2018/19 German season, Ian Hawkey looks at five key summer arrivals

Axel Witsel joined Borussia Dortmund after the World Cup. EPA
Axel Witsel joined Borussia Dortmund after the World Cup. EPA

Axel Witsel (Borussia Dortmund)

The Belgian ended a stint in China with a move to Borussia Dortmund, a World Cup bronze medal in his luggage. Witsel, 29, will give bite and experience to midfield. He is off the mark already, with the injury-time equaliser to spare his new club embarrassment in the German Cup against second-division Greuther Furth.

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Davy Klaassen, left, moved to Werder Bremen following an unhappy spell in England with Everton. EPA
Davy Klaassen, left, moved to Werder Bremen following an unhappy spell in England with Everton. EPA

Davy Klaassen (Werder Bremen)

Once the jewel of Ajax's admired youth system, Klaassen, 25, needs a career kick-start after his dispiriting season at Everton, who signed him last summer after he had guided Ajax to the Europa League final. Bremen, champions way back in 2004, hope Klaassen's sharp passing and vision can galvanise a top-half finish.

Matheus Cunha (RB Leipzig)

The Brazilian striker, still only 19, had a productive season with Sion in Switzerland in 2017/18 and he has startling pace and a cool finish in his skills-set. He has just won his first international call-up, too, to the Brazil Under 20 squad.

Leon Goretzka, left, joined Bayern Munich on a free transfer from Schalke. EPA
Leon Goretzka, left, joined Bayern Munich on a free transfer from Schalke. EPA

Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich)

Goretzka, who has joined the champions on a free transfer, will be missed by Schalke, whom he helped to second in the league last season. His challenge, at 23, is to establish a place amid stiff competition in Bayern's midfield. His versatility is an asset, and the Germany international's potential huge.

Allasane Plea (Borussia Monchengladbach)

At €25 million (Dh106m), Plea is Monchengladbach's most expensive signing in history. What they want from the 25-year-old Frenchman, who scored 16 goals for Nice last season, is more potency up front. Thorgen Hazard, developing nicely as attacking midfielder, might be the key man to supply the ammunition to Plea.