Football Features

Union Berlin hit double figures for transfers ahead of Europa League group stage debut

By Harry Edwards

Published: 9:22, 10 August 2022

Just three years ago Union Berlin were in the 2. Bundesliga but now they’re preparing for their first ever Europa League group stage campaign.

This isn’t the first time Union have been in Europe, qualifying for the Uefa Cup in 2001/02 (bowing out in the second round as DFB-Pokal runners-up) while also exiting the Europa Conference League group stage last season.

But, after finishing fifth in the Bundesliga last season, just one point behind fourth-placed RB Leipzig, Union will get a prolonged stay in the Europa League and will surely fancy their chances, should the group stage draw be kind.

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Union already had a good squad last season, but have been busy to bolster it this summer, aided somewhat by the £17m received from Nottingham Forest for Taiwo Awoniyi’s departure.

So who are the Union new boys?

Paul Seguin

From: Greuther Furth

Fee: Free

Union’s first signing of the summer was a free one (more of those to come), with Paul Seguin joining from recently-relegated Greuther Furth at the end of his contract – a deal that was announced as early as March. The 27-year-old central midfielder did his best to keep Greuther Furth in the Bundesliga last season with three assists, the second-most at the club. However, Union may want to keep an eye on his discipline as Seguin was booked nine times in the Bundesliga last season – only two players received more yellow cards.

Janik Haberer

From: Freiburg

Fee: Free

Another midfielder brought in on a free transfer, Janik Haberer was part of the Freiburg team which reached the DFB-Pokal final last season, finishing as runners-up to RB Leipzig. Playing in a few positions for Freiburg last season, Haberer scored three goals in the Bundesliga, but had to make do with a fringe role towards the end of the campaign.

Danilho Doekhi

From: Vitesse Arnhem

Fee: Free

Danilho Doekhi was captain of Vitesse Arnhem last season, leading them to the final of the Eredivisie’s European competition play-offs, though they lost 7-3 to AZ over two legs. Despite his role in Vitesse’s defence, the Dutch centre-back was allowed to leave at the end of his contract and snubbed a move to Rangers to join Union. A member of Ajax’s academy, Doekhi played alongside the likes of Justin Kluivert, Noussair Mazraoui, Owen Wijndal and Matthijs de Ligt.

Jamie Leweling

From: Greuther Furth

Fee: £3.5m

Another arrival from relegated Greuther Furth, 21-year-old forward Jamie Leweling found the net five times in the Bundesliga last season, with only Branimir Hrgota managing more (nine) for the club. But all five of Leweling’s goals did come from open play, while he also completed 46 take-ons, more than any other Greuther Furth player.

Tim Skarke

From: Darmstadt

Fee: Free

Part of Union’s plans to bolster their attack was to sign Tim Skarke from Darmstadt, again on a free transfer. But unlike Union’s other three signings, Skarke does not have Bundesliga experience, playing all of his football with Darmstadt in the second tier. Last season the 25-year-old scored five goals in 19 appearances having missed the first part of the season through injury.

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Milos Pantovic

From: Bochum

Fee: Free

Goals weren’t Union’s strongest point last season, scoring the joint-fewest goals in the top half of the Bundesliga, so especially after losing Awoniyi they’ve looked to find someone who can score from anywhere. Step up Milos Pantovic. While at Bochum last season, Pantovic scored one goal from inside his own half vs Hoffenheim and another from inside the centre circle against Freiburg. That’s half of his four totals goes coming from long range.

Lennart Grill

From: Bayer Leverkusen

Fee: Loan

Only a few years ago Lennart Grill was playing the 3. Bundesliga with Kaiserslautern before joining Bayer Leverkusen, but his time in the top flight hasn’t been ideal. In two seasons since joining Leverkusen, Grill has made just five appearances in the Bundesliga, but he’ll be hoping for more opportunities while on loan at Union. Should Grill make a mark, Union do have an option to buy the 23-year-old goalkeeper at the end of his loan.

Jordan Siebatcheu

From: BSC Young Boys

Fee: £5.2m

Union wasted little time in trying to find a way to replace Awoniyi’s goal production and it’s clear they have earmarked Jordan Siebatcheu as their man. The American joins from BSC Young Boys after just one year as a permanent fixture in the Swiss Super League (signing from Rennes last summer after a season on loan), and he thrived. Overall, Siebatcheu scored 42 goals in 87 games for Young Boys across all competitions and finished as the Swiss Super League’s top scorer last season on 22 goals. He has already got off the mark for Union too, netting on his debut in the DFB-Pokal against Chemnitzer and in his Bundesliga bow against rivals Hertha in a 3-1 win over the weekend.

Diogo Leite

From: Porto

Fee: Loan

Diogo Leite is playing outside Portugal for the first time having come through the Porto academy, and Union will be hoping he has a similar impact in Germany as he did on loan at Braga last season. The 23-year-old centre-back played 23 times in the Primeira Liga last season to help Braga to a fourth-placed finish, averaging 3.16 clearances and 3.69 aerial duels won per 90 minutes.

Morten Thorsby

From: Sampdoria

Fee: £2.5m

The latest arrival at the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei is Morten Thorsby, also known as football’s Greta Thunberg. The 25-year-old is well known for his environmental activism, especially surrounding climate issues, using his platform for good.

“Some colleagues call me that, it’s true,” the 26-year-old said earlier this year.

“It’s not a problem for me, but I wouldn’t compare myself to Greta. She has been doing very important work, almost as a face of the movement, but she speaks a lot to people who are already sensitised and informed about the climate crisis.

“I think we have to get everybody on board, we have to do what Greta says, but simplify the message and extend it to more people. But Greta has done an amazing job. It’s okay to be called like that.”

On the pitch, Thorsby is a central midfielder who missed just three games for Sampdoria in Serie A last season, making 1.4 tackles per 90 and winning 5.18 aerial duels, while also attempting 9.18 final third passes.



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