The English Premier League’s competitive nature and intensity are well known around the world. The financial prowess of multiple clubs stands out and is the reason for the league’s abundance of quality players. Premier League footballers are expected to perform well worldwide.
This is not to say that raw and promising talent cannot be developed in other European leagues. The Premier League, on the other hand, serves as a litmus test. Young stars or experienced players must acclimatize to the Premier League.
The Bundesliga and other leagues are nowhere near as competitive as the Premier League.
The title race in the German Bundesliga and Ligue 1 has mostly been viewed as a one-sided race or, on rare occasions, a bilateral race.
The former is dominated by Bayern Munich, which has won the Bundesliga for the last nine seasons. They snare the best talent from other Bundesliga clubs by enticing them with Champions League football and lucrative wages.
Many players, however, are determined to test themselves and make a name for themselves in foreign lands. They compete with the best in the Premier League to be recognized as the best. However, for many of them, things do not always go as planned.
On that note, here are five Bundesliga superstars who made the switch to the Premier League but failed to make the same impact:
Number 5: Thiago Alcantara
Thiago Alcantara hasn’t been able to deliver his best at Liverpool, which has been equally frustrating and disappointing for the Reds, their fans, and the player himself. The Spaniard was signed from Bayern Munich but has yet to replicate his Premier League performances from his time in Germany.
Several injuries have slowed Thiago’s progress, and he has been in and out of Liverpool’s Premier League games. Jurgen Klopp signed the midfielder to give the Reds’ midfield more control and poise. An orchestrator, such as Thiago, was supposed to pull the strings from the center, ensuring that his team plays the game at the desired tempo.
Thiago has only made 29 Premier League appearances since his arrival. On many of those occasions, he came off the bench and contributed one goal and one assist.
So far, there have been few glimpses of Thiago as an orchestrator. By the end of this season, he will be 31 years old. Liverpool youngsters Harvey Elliot and Curtis Jones have impressed in the Premier League when given a chance. If he struggles to stay fit and make the desired impact, the aging Spaniard could soon become a fringe player.
Number 4: Timo Werner
Let’s get one thing straight: Timo Werner hasn’t exactly flopped in the Premier League. However, given his reputation, his performances have been underwhelming, and his inability to master the fundamentals has seen him struggle in the Premier League.
Werner’s best asset is his speed and agility, allowing him to score goals and easily lay assists. He frequently finds himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper or racing past the defense to find a fellow Chelsea player in the final third. Surprisingly, his assets became his greatest adversary in the Premier League.
Since his arrival, the German striker has had the offside flag raised 31 times against him in the Premier League. Due to the same issue, 16 of his Chelsea goals were disallowed. Werner’s Premier League goal tally currently stands at seven from 42 appearances.
Even though his 13 assists have more than saved his reputation, one of the reasons for his underwhelming performances has been the physical nature of the Premier League. The Chelsea striker has been unwilling to engage and hold the ball with many defenders, preferring to run past them rather than engage and keep the ball.
Werner finally broke his six-month Premier League goal drought on October 2nd, when he scored against Southampton. The striker is now second fiddle to Romelu Lukaku, despite making the front three on a few occasions under Tuchel.
He’s already had two lengthy barren streaks of 11 and 12 matches. Werner is reportedly attracting interest from the Bundesliga, and Chelsea may consider the idea at the end of the season.
Number 3: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Few players can recover from a major setback in their career, especially in their prime in the Premier League, and rediscover their form. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has had a long second wind with AS Roma, and his performances have shown that he is far from finished.
After a disappointing season in the Premier League, he needs to prove himself on the big stage again. Due to his poor performances, the Armenian was released by not one, but two top-six Premier League clubs, Manchester United and Arsenal.
He arrived as a highly-rated attacking midfielder who had previously been a key member of Borussia Dortmund’s frontline. His work rate, ability to fill empty pockets, and ability to locate teammates earned him high praise from the Bundesliga club.
On the other hand, Mkhitaryan only showed flashes of his talent in the Premier League, and impactful performances were few and far between. In 39 Premier League games for Manchester United, the Armenian could only muster five goals and six assists.
He arrived at Arsenal as part of a trade-in, and Alexis Sanchez was sent the other way. Unai Emery used the attacking midfielder as a winger, and Mkhitaryan’s license to roam in the middle of the park was revoked. Since joining Roma, he has played 67 games in Serie A, scoring 24 goals and assisting on another 18.
Number 2: Sebastien Haller
There is no denying that the English Premier League and the Dutch Eredivisie are worlds apart in terms of quality. Sebastien Haller, who has restored his reputation as a lethal goalscorer, is one man who has used that difference to his absolute advantage.
West Ham United’s record signing came to the Premier League after a 15-goal season with Eintracht Frankfurt. During his brief one-and-a-half-year stay, Haller appeared in 48 Premier League games, scoring 10 goals and providing two assists.
David Moyes wanted to use the French international as a lone striker, even though he was most effective in a strike partnership with Luka Jovic in the Bundesliga. Finally, the system’s demands became too much for Haller. He even went eight Premier League games without scoring or assisting on two separate occasions before leaving.
The Hammers don’t exactly play possession football, whereas Ajax enjoys controlling the game with the ball at their feet. Haller has benefited from the shift in playing style and has emphasized his predatory instincts. The Frenchman has already scored seven goals for Ajax in four Champions League games. He has 14 goals and five assists in 17 games across competitions.
Number 1: Shinji Kagawa
Another Borussia Dortmund superstar who struggled in the Premier League to round out our list of Bundesliga superstars who worked in the Premier League. Shinji Kagawa, a prolific No.10, joined Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund in 2012.
A technically gifted player, the Japanese played his name behind the striker for Jurgen Klopp’s team as they won two Bundesliga titles in a row. Kagawa, 23, arrived in top form from the Bundesliga, where he scored 13 goals and assisted on 12 others in 31 games last season. Sir Alex Ferguson was confident he would be a success for the Red Devils.
Except that he wasn’t. Kagawa was used as a winger on either side of the field, primarily on the left. This hampered his attacking tendencies and freedom in the park’s gaps.
In his debut season, Kagawa had six goals and four assists in 20 Premier League appearances. A three-month knee injury prevented him from becoming a regular for United.
Kagawa’s game time was reduced even further after David Moyes took over as manager of the Red Devils. However, he won the Premier League in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge.