Relegated Hannover 96 could sink further

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With all due respect to the capital club Hannover 96 of Lower Saxony, I begin the post with a sorrow note, sorry to tell everyone that Niklas Feierabend died at the age of 19 in a car crash. Rest in peace Niklas! The boy was given a professional contract by Hannover in February and was an unused substitute twice this season.

But this sorrow is just one of the many troubles poor Hannover has had to face this dreadful season. They looked the most hopeless of all relegation contenders and despite several panic winter transfer signings, they couldn’t stay up. While the Bundesliga watched TSG Hoffenheim and VFB Stuttgart take an upward curve in form in the Ruckrunde, Hannover just stuck to the bottom and sank even further down. They witnessed a surprisingly dull coaching stint under renown Thomas Schaaf that could have very well killed all their rekindled hopes that they developed after Frontzeck left and by the time they took the risk to appoint the promising youth manager Daniel Stendel as the senior coach, it was simply too late.

Though Hannover’s season was wasteful, not all of their players were so. Hiroshi Kiyotake, Ron-Robert Zieler, and Hiroki Sakai were gems among the rubbish heap. These players coupled with some others could be making a move out in the coming summer transfer window.

RON-ROBERT ZIELER:

Well known as the first choice goalkeeper of Hannover 96 by the Bundesliga fans, as third choice goalkeeper of the German national football team by the admirers of Die Mannschaft, and as a goalkeeper of Manchester United reserves in his earlier days by  English football’s close watchers, Ron-Robert Zieler certainly comes with a value, with a price tag in the transfer market (reportedly 8 million Euros by value as per Transfermarkt)

Zieler is only behind Karius, Hitz, Adler and tied with Baumann on Kicker ratings this season which shows he really had to do a lot to save Hannover’s games even if that didn’t really happen. He averages 4.3 saves per game which is again 4th highest in the league, link him to Arsenal surely. But when you see the total number of saves he has made so far this season, according to Squawka, he  currently leads the Bundesliga this season with 119 saves, with Hoffenheim’s Oliver Baumann his next closest competition with 95 saves. So as per form considered, he hasn’t deteriorated much. His lack of clean sheets might very well be blamed upon the rest of the team.

Zieler has voiced out his desire to keep playing top-flight football.

I do not want to beat around the bushes,I feel strongly connected to Hanover, but I am very ambitious and my goal is to play in the top-flight, also in the coming season.

The greatest possibility of  Zieler’s move to his hometown club FC Koln is rumors of Koln FC keeper Timo Horn’s move to Liverpool FC. Horn’s temporary release clause of 9 million can be triggered by Liverpool FC head coach and ex-BVB man Jürgen Klopp.

Hannover FC cannot listen to offers more or even similar to his market value since Zieler has given a statement that he is leaving the club plus the fact that relegated clubs have to cut down on their wage bill for playing safely within the prescribed financial limits of the second division which would mean they would themselves crave to lose Zieler who might be earning the most wages in the team. Most recent example is that of Freiburg losing Burki to BVB. Klopp can even go for Zieler as a last minute option in case Jörg Schmadtke, Koln’s sporting director refuses to part with Timo Horn.

HIROSHI KIYOTAKE:

The Japanese playmaker who was the heart and soul of the 96’ers game play last season wasn’t available for the entirety of the first half/Hinrunde in this season, through the hairline fracture. The 26-year old’s recovery did take a while and by the time he did start making an impression, the damage was done. But he still did collect 4 goals and 6 assists, without him, Hannover would have had made just 4 points all season.

Kiyotake is a starter for the Japanese national football team and if at all he wants to keep that starting role to himself, he has to continue to play top flight matches. Moreover,for a player of his quality, offers from top flight Bundesliga clubs should be ready already. In fact, he is now linked to VFB Stuttgart who looks to replace the outgoing Daniel Didavi and holding a market value of just 4.5 million euros which could drop further since Hannover are relegated now, VFB Stuttgart can get the Japanese. However, it is still a rumor and Kiyotake could also be making a move to one of the clubs to be promoted to the English Premier League as other reports suggest.

HIROKI SAKAI

Another Blue Samurai,Hiroki Sakai was arguably the best player of Hannover 96’s worst season, the only 96’er to get voted into the team of the week multiple times. He made 27 appearances, making him the second most appearing outfield player this season. He deservedly held the first spot and was solid in his performances as well. If the Japanese want to step up in his game, he has to switch to a club which is in the top flight.

OTHER PLAYERS:

Salif Sane might also be considering a move out considering the fact that the Senegal National team coach is already ignoring him on the back of a decision taken by the player to treat his injury with the 96’ers medical staff instead of the national team doctor. Sane might not want to further hamper his chances with international football.

But with his rather good/okayish (if not excellent) performance this season and considering the fact that he can play equally well in central defense as well as central midfield, Sane could see himself at Stuttgart as the VFB’ers are not just interested in Kiyotake.

Also, FC Koln’s Schmadtke who wanted to get the Senegalese a season back but offered too little (2.5 million euros) could be on the hunt for him yet again this season. Sane is also reportedly seeking a move to the EPL. Stuttgart could price away Sane or Kiyotake if they sell Antonio Rudiger and Filip Kostic for a good amount of money in the coming transfer window as its expected.

There are other lighter and lesser rumors on Andre Hoffmann being targeted by Gladbach as a backup defensive midfielder in case Xhaka makes a move. Though the lad was well talented, a long-term injury and the poor use of opportunities rendered him a player on the bench during Thomas Schaaf’s time as head coach of Hannover 96.

Hannover will have to undergo a huge revamp in the squad in the coming transfer window and though players like Felix Klaus and Artur Sobiech have committed their future to the now second division club, things could get worse for who would know, what could happen in the coming transfer window!

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