With the Bundesliga back underway, we finally have some live football to get our teeth into and yes, it’s different, but right now we’ll take anything.
Even if you’re not a frequent watcher of German domestic encounters, there is still an array of Premier League links and players who once plied their trade over on our shores. So let’s have a look at what players will ring a bell with Chelsea fans in particular and therefore should satisfy your Blues fix for the time being.
1. Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund)
You’re not a Chelsea fan if you don’t recognise this surname. You might not even be a football fan. The younger brother of Eden is currently tearing it up for Borussia Dortmund and contributed a goal and an assist in BVB’s 4-0 victory over Schalke at the weekend.
Thorgan, who is noted for excellent crossing and passing ability, joined Chelsea from French side Lens as a youngster, shortly after his older brother joined the Blues. He would go on to play for Zulte Waregem and Borussia Mönchengladbach on loan and joined the latter on a permanent deal for around £8m.
Despite rumours of a return to Stamford Bridge, a switch never materialised and he signed for Dortmund last summer. At 27, the Belgian is now approaching his peak and Chelsea fans wouldn’t say no to the return of Hazard (either would do) at some point in the near future.
2. Ethan Ampadu (RB Leipzig)
Highly-rated Welsh defender Ampadu is currently on loan from Chelsea to RB Leipzig but is currently plagued by a troublesome back problem, meaning the 19 year-old didn’t return to the pitch this weekend.
His first season in Germany has largely consisted of substitute appearances in the league, although he did play 90 minutes in the 1-0 victory over Tottenham in the Champions League back in February.
Despite a lack of opportunities, Ampadu has stated that he has enjoyed his time with the title-chasing side thus far. Not too surprising, training and playing with the likes of Timo Werner and Dayot Upamecano in an exciting youthful team; but he will be looking for more minutes in the next few weeks in order to break into Frank Lampard’s plans at Stamford Bridge.
3. Claudio Pizarro (Werder Bremen)
Claudio Pizarro is now in his fourth spell with Werder Bremen at the ripe old age of 41 and he is still, remarkably, finding the net pretty consistently – and up to fifth on the list of all-time leading goal scorers in the Bundesliga.
Chelsea fans will remember Pizarro’s brief stay in west London for all the wrong reasons though. The Peruvian scored just two goals (both against Birmingham) in 32 appearances during the 2007/08 season, in which the Blues sacked Mourinho and Avram Grant guided the team to the Champions League final…and then John Terry slipped.
Pizarro has been prolific in Germany though, and has won six Bundesliga titles and DFB-Pokal apiece during spells with Bremen and Bayern Munich. Now in his final season, you can tune in to see if the former Blues veteran can steer his side away from the drop zone where they currently sit.
4. Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Last but not least, an optimistic transfer target maybe, but attacking midfielder Kai Havertz is one of the hottest properties in German football. If Willian does depart this summer, this guy is an almost ready-made replacement at just 20 years old.
The youngest ever debutant in Leverkusen history, making his debut at just 16; Havertz hit 17 league goals and contributed four assists last season, helping his side into Europe with a fourth-placed finish. Already capped by his country, Havertz has been compared to fellow Deutschland legends like Michael Ballack and Mesut Özil and Leverkusen will do well to hold onto him.
With Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester United also interested; Chelsea face a battle to get their name to the top of Havertz’s wish list but he would be a phenomenal signing if the pieces fall into place.