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Bundesliga 431 43 Bundesliga 2013-14: Players to watch 31876434 On the lookout On+the+lookout Bundesliga

As is usually the case in the summer months, player and manager changes have dominated the offseason headlines. The German league, too, has seen its share of activity, but new signings such as Mario Gotze and Henrik Mkhitaryan aren’t the only players who will be increasingly under the spotlight this season. Here are our top ten Bundesliga players to keep your eyes on.


-Thomas Hautmann

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Bundesliga 431 43 Bundesliga 2013-14: Players to watch 31876433 Mario Gotze, M/F, Bayern Munich Mario+Gotze%2C+M%2FF%2C+Bayern+Munich Bundesliga

Gotze played himself into world stardom the last few seasons at Dortmund, but became a lightning rod for criticism after his transfer announcement to Bayern. An injury kept Gotze out of the Champions League final between the two teams – denying us an incredible storyline – as well as almost the entire offseason. But a friendly last week showed us a glimpse of Gotze's potential at Bayern, and there was instant chemistry between him and Franck Ribery, a scary proposition for the rest of the world. Now that he is back, we can't wait to see how much better Gotze can become under Pep Guardiola's new Bayern.

Bundesliga 431 43 Bundesliga 2013-14: Players to watch 31873562 Robert Lewandowski, F, Borussia Dortmund Robert+Lewandowski%2C+F%2C+Borussia+Dortmund Bundesliga

The drama surrounding Lewandowski’s desire to follow Gotze to Bayern hasn’t died down, even after Dortmund officially blocked a transfer to their Bundesliga foes until next summer. The discovery of the Champions League last season, Lewandowski feels cheated by Dortmund for not being allowed to leave the club during the summer transfer window. Don’t expect that to impact his performance, though. Lewandowski is the consummate professional, a new world star, and he will be key once again to Dortmund’s chances in Europe… as well as in the Bundesliga against his future club.

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Bundesliga 431 43 Bundesliga 2013-14: Players to watch 31876437 Thiago Alcantara, M, Bayern Munich Thiago+Alcantara%2C+M%2C+Bayern+Munich Bundesliga

Pep Guardiola’s acquisition of his favorite Barca understudy threw everyone for a loop, but there’s no doubt Thiago is the Bundesliga’s most prominent new addition. The 22-year-old has bags of talent and should be a force in the heart of Bayern’s midfield for years to come. What impact he will have on the players around him, now that’s where it gets interesting. Having already dislodged Javi Martinez in midfield, it’ll be curious to watch how else Bayern’s play will be affected by the Spaniard’s arrival.

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Bundesliga 431 43 Bundesliga 2013-14: Players to watch 31876441 Heung Min Son, M/F, Bayer Leverkusen Heung+Min+Son%2C+M%2FF%2C+Bayer+Leverkusen Bundesliga

Losing Andre Schurrle to Chelsea hurt, but Leverkusen have made the smartest signing possible by replacing him with Son. The South Korea international had a hand in a third of Hamburg’s goals last year, and his pace and skill on the wings was a handful for even the best defenders (noted by his pair of two-goal performances against Dortmund). The move has already paid dividends for Leverkusen; Son scored and set up another goal in their Bundesliga opener, harmonizing well with Stefan Kiessling and his opposite on the wings, Sidney Sam. Can he keep it up?

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Bundesliga 431 43 Bundesliga 2013-14: Players to watch 31876435 Henrikh Mkhitaryan, M, Borussia Dortmund Henrikh+Mkhitaryan%2C+M%2C+Borussia+Dortmund Bundesliga

Mkhitaryan was chased by half of Europe after an impressive run with Shakhtar Donetsk in last season's Champions League. Then Dortmund snatched him up on a club record $37M transfer. The Armenian will come in with big shoes to fill – he was bought to replace fan favorite Mario Gotze – but with a fantastic all-around game, he could become the Bundesliga’s next big star.

Bundesliga 431 43 Bundesliga 2013-14: Players to watch 31873563 Julian Draxler, M, Schalke Julian+Draxler%2C+M%2C+Schalke+ Bundesliga

The youngest-ever Bundesliga player to suit up for Schalke (and the fourth-youngest all-time overall), Draxler is on the verge of becoming a world star. Need proof? Soon after signing a long-term extension complete with a $60M release clause, Schalke quickly received several offers from top teams (such as Chelsea) who were willing to meet the price for the 19-year-old. As such, there are huge expectations for Draxler, who racked up 14 goals and 7 assists in all competitions last year. Whether the teenager can live up to them or not will be a major storyline to watch this year.

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Bundesliga 431 43 Bundesliga 2013-14: Players to watch 31876438 Max Kruse, F, Borussia Moenchengladbach Max+Kruse%2C+F%2C++Borussia+Moenchengladbach Bundesliga

The Freiburg import is already one of the hottest rising stars in the Bundesliga after an impact year at his former club last season. The striker tallied 11 goals and eight assists in helping Freiburg all the way to a shocking fifth-place finish. Kruse followed that up with an impressive display on his German national team debut this summer, scoring a nice goal against the United States. New club Moenchengladbach will need Kruse, 25, to continue to shine as he enters the prime of his career.

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Bundesliga 431 43 Bundesliga 2013-14: Players to watch 31876440 Rafael van der Vaart, M, Hamburg Rafael+van+der+Vaart%2C+M%2C+Hamburg Bundesliga

Hamburg have looked all sorts of lost in the run-up to the Bundesliga season, and could be in danger of getting relegated for the first time in their history. After losing Heung-Min Son this offseason and finding no replacement for him, all eyes are on the team’s captain and only star to prevent that from happening. Whether van der Vaart can stay healthy and continue to do it all on the field – this time with less help around him – will be integral to the Bundesliga dinosaur’s survival.

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Bundesliga 431 43 Bundesliga 2013-14: Players to watch 31876436 Sebastian Rode, M, Eintracht Frankfurt Sebastian+Rode%2C+M%2C+Eintracht+Frankfurt Bundesliga

One of the discoveries of last year's Bundesliga campaign, Rode sparked interest from several top clubs both home and abroad - including Bayern Munich and Arsenal - with his steady performances. The brain behind Frankfurt's surprising success last year, he plays a similar role as Bastian Schweinsteiger at Bayern, and at just 23 years old, has a bright future ahead of him. A move to a top club beckons should he replicate his play from a year ago.

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Bundesliga 431 43 Bundesliga 2013-14: Players to watch 31876432 Diego, M, Wolfsburg Diego%2C+M%2C+Wolfsburg Bundesliga

Diego's career was threatened to be derailed after joining Wolfsburg three years ago. The Brazilian playmaker frequently got in trouble with management, once famously refusing to show up to Wolfsburg's crucial last match of the 2010 season, for which he was fined a whopping half million Euros.  However, after a succesful loan spell at Atletico Madrid, Diego returned to Wolves last season and enjoyed a career rennaisance after Felix Magath was sacked, notching ten goals and seven assists. Can he continue his fine form?

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