Fortuna Düsseldorf surprised everyone last year with their incredible 10th-place end in the Bundesliga. If Fortuna are to prevent relegation, this January transfer window may be crucial, with the team having to handle issues both in attack and defense.
Last season, the drama of both Dodi Lukebakio and Benito Raman was crucial. Of the 49 goals Düsseldorf handled this past year, 20 were supplied by Raman and Lukebakio. Over the summer, the team earned Erik Thommy of Stuttgart, Nana Ampomah from Waasland-Beveren, and Bernard Tekpety of Schalke, after his participation to Paderborn’s incredible promotion while on loan. All have shown glimpses of skill, but just Thommy has managed to get the net. Of the 18 goals the side has scored this year, 11 of them have been from Hennings.
With instant striker Dawid Kownacki clearly lacking in confidence, bringing in goals in January is going to be vital to survival. The Finn has only managed one look for Leverkusen this season because of injury, and there might be a chance to loan the striker until the end of the year which allows him to regain match fitness. This would allow Kownaki to run out wide when Hennings is not on the field, a position he scored goals from last season.
At the opposite end, the defense was nothing short of shambolic in several games. Zac Steffan has been getting loads of plaudits for his performances, yet even he has to be concerned with the number of shots he’s facing every game. Only 1. FSV Mainz and SV Werder Bremen have surrendered over Fortuna and this is only down to Steffan. With Fortuna having scored the joint-least number of goals this year, they’re not finding the net regularly sufficient to reevaluate how many they concede, emphasized by Fortuna with the joint-worst goal difference in the Bundesliga.
Funkel has chopped and changed the trunk line, occasionally sticking Nuhu, Kaan Ayhan and Andre Hoffman together, while at other times picking two. There’s rarely a week in which the defense is just like the previous game, indicating that the coach is unsure of the most powerful line-up. Another center back is vital. Maybe they could research bringing former loanee Kevin Akpogoma from Hoffenheim. Despite a disappointing loan spell in Hannover last season, a return to a comfortable environment could bring out the finest in the player.
Where the defense has not been helped out is in the midfield. Despite earning Lewis Baker, who impressed in a defensive midfield role whilst on loan at Reading last season, he’s struggled to cement a spot in Funkel’s line-ups. It has meant that Adam Bodzek has featured heavily in the front of the rear line. Bodzek has been a wonderful servant for Fortuna, however, this year has emerged off the pace from the Bundesliga. Captain Oliver Fink, despite being in his late 30’s, was incredible last season and among the best players in the club. However, like Bodzek, he’s showing signs of slowing down. With Sobotka continuously injured, a defensive midfielder is needed before the transfer window shuts.
The former Union Berlin winger fought to make an impact in Gelsenkirchen last season and has combined Fortuna on loan. Another winger could be helpful, particularly in ensuring Hennings does not end up isolated as he’s been so far. The return of Kenan Karaman from trauma may also feel like a new signing for the club. Karaman scored some very important goals last season, and his ability to play out both broad and as a lone striker provides Funkel another choice to help support Hennings.
Last year, Kevin Stöger filled this role brilliantly, yet he’s been injured all this effort. With no Stöger, Fortuna’s central midfielders have fought to give similar levels of imagination. Despite the fact that Stöger returned to act in a recent friendly against Basel, the club should really be shopping around for someone who can make in the last third if he gets hurt again. Many of Hennings goals this year have been of his own doing, so using a provider would benefit him hugely.
Herein lies the problem; Fortuna don’t have the funds to go out and get family names. The club can not compete financially with most clubs, with just Union Berlin and Paderborn having lower income. Picking up players that have a point to prove in the Bundesliga, such as Skrzybski, could be the right path to go down. In any event, Fortuna certainly must deal with some glaring problems this month if they are to prevent relegation come May.