Football News

Hit or miss? All 15 signings Eintracht Frankfurt made this season

By Andrew Francis

Hit or miss? All 15 signings Eintracht Frankfurt made this season copy

Published: 15:39, 20 February 2023

Eintracht Frankfurt have made the most of their first appearance in the Champions League by reaching the round of 16.

They came through a stern Group D just before the World Cup, but whether they can replicate their European Cup heroics from 1959/60 and reach the final remains to be seen. Even so, their activity in the transfer market has certainly helped them thus far.

In total, 15 players have come through the door at Deutsche Bank Park this season, with the club splurging around £25m on players ranging from Germany, the Netherlands, Croatia, France and the USA, as the club have looked to capitalise on last season’s success.

The past 12 months have been impressive for Frankfurt, with their Europa League final win over Rangers giving them their second piece of major European silverware after their UEFA Cup win in 1980.

Die Adler lack the influence to attract the players at the very top of the game but Oliver Glasner has assembled a well-rounded and talented squad that will hope to reach the quarter finals of the Champions League, as well as earn their place in Europe once again with a top six finish in the Bundesliga.

And it’s working so far. Frankfurt are in sixth position in the Bundesliga, five points off of Bayern Munich in first, in what looks to be the most hotly-contested title race in many years.

In the summer, ten players joined the revolution at Eintracht and a further two signed on loan. The club then dipped into the market again in the winter transfer window, adding two players permanently and another loan signing until the end of the season.

At first glance it might look as though things have been a success at the club, but let’s break those transfers down and see if each one has been a hit or a miss.

Jens Petter Hauge

Position: Winger
Transfer fee: £7m
Signed From: AC Milan

Expectations were huge for Hauge after an incredible spell of form in Norway, but he’s found it hard to live up to the billing so far. AC Milan were the side that took the gamble, backing him to develop into a world class player, but he managed just 24 appearances for the Italian club.

A year on loan at Frankfurt last season showed that there was still some untapped potential within, and the German side were impressed enough to spend £7m on the Norwegian playmaker in the summer, though with a view to longer-term planning.

Shortly after signing, he was sent to Gent on loan to develop further, and it remains to be seen how big an impact he’ll have in the Bundesliga when he returns.

Hit or miss? Too soon to tell

Lucas Alario

Position: Forward
Transfer fee: £5.6m
Signed from: Bayer Leverkusen

After five successful years at Leverkusen, Alario made the switch to Frankfurt in the summer, but things haven’t gone swimmingly for the Argentine attacker.

For the majority of his time at Deutsche Bank Park he’s been restricted to substitute appearances, amassing just 254 minutes of football, at the time of writing. He’s found the net once but it’s clear that things aren’t rosy for Alario at his new club.

Hit or miss? Miss

Mario Götze

Position: Midfielder
Transfer fee: £3.4m
Signed from: PSV Eindhoven

Once heralded as Germany’s next superstar, Götze was riding high after scoring the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup Final. His career faltered thereafter, though, with disappointing spells at Bayern Munich and his second tour of duty at Borussia Dortmund. Things improved for him at PSV away from the German spotlight, and enough for Frankfurt to decide to bring him back to the Bundesliga.

He’s performed well this season, playing well over 1,500 minutes of football and, whilst it doesn’t look like he’ll ever quite get back to his pre-Bayern days, Götze is quietly going about his business in Hesse as an important member of Glasner’s well-oiled midfield.

Hit or miss? Hit

Paxten Aaronson

Position: Midfielder
Transfer fee: £3.3m
Signed from: Philadelphia Union

Talent obviously runs in the Aaronson family, with elder brother Brenden signing for Leeds for £24.7m last summer. Paxten has followed his brother to Europe in the 2023 winter window, but has yet to make an appearance for Eintracht Frankfurt.

Hi performances in MLS were good for Philadelphia Union but it’s another step up for Aaronson to play in the Bundesliga.

Hit or miss? Too soon to tell

Kristijan Jakić

Position: Defender
Transfer fee: £3m
Signed from: Dinamo Zagreb

It’s been a decent second season for Jakić, who originally signed on loan last campaign before making his move permanent in the summer of 2022.

It was an underwhelming league season for Frankfurt in 2021/22, but Jakić was instrumental in their Europa League success and has built on that with another solid campaign for the Bundesliga club.

Hit or miss? Hit

Hrvoje Smolčić

Position: Defender
Transfer fee: £2m
Destination: Rijeka

Smolčić may be earmarked as a longer-term project in Frankfurt’s defence, but with the centre-back turning 23 in just a few month’s time, he can hardly be bracketed as an ‘up and comer’. Still, he’s impressed when given the chance, and at only £2m in the summer, his acquisition hardly cost a king’s ransom.

Hit or miss? Hit (just)

Simon Simoni

Position: Goalkeeper
Transfer fee: Undisclosed fee
Signed from: Dinamo Tirana

The 18-year-old was brought to the club in January off the back of a decent first couple of seasons for Albanian side Dinamo Tirana. He’s yet to make a first-team appearance for the club but he’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Hit or miss? Too soon to tell

Faride Alidou

Position: Winger
Transfer fee: Free Transfer
Signed from: Hamburger SV

A promising season in first-team football for Alidou at Hamburger was enough for Frankfurt to sign him up on a pre-contract agreement in March last year. He hasn’t made a huge impression as of yet but appearances for Germany U21s show there’s definitely things to be excited about when it comes to Alidou. He turns 22 in July, so he will want to start getting more minutes on the pitch in the coming months and into next season.

Hit or miss? Too soon to tell

Aurélio Buta

Position: Defender
Transfer fee: Free Transfer
Signed from: Royal Antwerp

Although restricted in the amount of minutes he’s been given in the early stages of the season, owing exclusively to an operation on his knee, Buta has begun to make the right wing-back spot at the club his own in recent weeks. He’s put in a string of impressive performances, scoring twice in just four starts and the signing (a freebie from Royal Antwerp) looks like a very astute one at this stage.

Hit or miss? Hit

Randal Kolo Muani

Position: Forward
Transfer fee: Free Transfer
Signed from: Nantes

Randal Kolo Muani arrived at the club with the expectation of scoring the goals to fire Frankfurt to glory this season. That’s certainly been the case for the Frenchman who has, at the time of writing, bagged 10 times and assisted 10 goals in the league this season — no player has been directly involved in more Bundesliga goals this campaign than Muani (20).

It’s fair to say that the signing has been one of the better ones made by the club this season and, with just under half of the current campaign to go, Muani will be targeting further glory with his new club.

Hit or miss? A big hit

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Jérôme Onguéné

Position: Defender
Transfer fee: Free Transfer
Signed from: Red Bull Salzburg

Onguéné failed to make a single appearance for his club since his arrival in the summer, leaving Frankfurt in January to spend the second half of the season back on loan at Salzburg.

Hit or miss? Miss

Marcel Wenig

Position: Midfielder
Transfer fee: Free Transfer
Signed from: Bayern Munich

Signed from the Bayern Munich academy, Wenig has made one substitute appearance for the first team but has impressed for the reserves, who play in the fifth tier of the German pyramid.

Hit or miss? Too soon to tell

Luca Pellegrini

Position: Defender
Transfer fee: Loan
Destination: Juventus

Pellegrini spent six months on loan from Juventus as a makeweight for the Filip Kostić deal, before ultimately being recalled and sent on loan to Lazio. A total of 14 appearances and no goals. Not exactly a memorable stint.

Hit or miss? Miss

Éric Junior Dina Ebimbe

Position: Midfielder
Transfer fee: Loan
Destination: PSG

Ebimbe has made 18 appearances for Frankfurt since his loan move from PSG and has put in some solid appearances, particularly in the Champions League wins over Sporting and Marseille. The loan move includes an option to buy, which becomes mandatory if the club remain in the Bundesliga this season.

Hit or miss? Hit

Philipp Max

Position: Defender
Transfer fee: Loan
Destination: PSV Eindhoven

The second player to make the move from PSV to Frankfurt this season, Max joined the club on loan on the final day of the January transfer window. He’s only made four appearances for the club so far, and put in decent performances in each but it’s hard to judge him on so little game time. If his last spell in the Bundesliga is anything to go by, though, as well as his similar playing style to Kostić, he should thrive in Glasner’s system.

Hit or miss? Too soon to tell.