This weekend’s loss to Freiburg dented the optimism around Eintracht Frankfurt, but should not overshadow a promising January of deals from the club, writes Martin Whiteley.
As the Frauen-Bundesliga season resumed this weekend following its winter break, the top of the table had a slightly unfamiliar look. Four sides all within four points of the summit promised an exciting second half to the season.
Ten-woman Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-1 home loss to Freiburg after Sara Doorsoun-Khajeh’s red card on the 34th minute, which saw the fourth-placed side stay on 25 points and fall three points behind Hoffenheim in the race for the final European spot, may have put a slight dampener on proceedings but their busy January transfer window shows manager Niko Arnautis is building a side capable of challenging the top three.
As for the other title chasers, well, there were mixed results for them too. Leaders Wolfsburg moved onto 32 points with a 3-1 home win against Werder Bremen on Sunday.
On home soil, current champion’s Bayern saw off relegation-threatened SC Sand 4-0 to stay one point behind in second place.
Hoffenheim were the first side to play on Friday night. Having taken an early lead through Nicole Billa, the home team were pegged back when Republic of Ireland striker Amber Barrett scored in the 85th minute for Cologne.
While Eintracht Frankfurt’s loss this weekend has dented their hopes of overtaking heavyweights Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich, it should not detract from an impressive statement of intent in the January transfer window.
Frankfurt’s business, including the recruitment of new blood and committing their current stars to their plans going forward, shows they are determined to build on their impressive first half of the season.
In January, Shekiera Martinez and Geraldine Reuteler, who is still battling back to full fitness after rupturing her cruciate ligament last March, signed new contracts that will run up to 2024. Fellow striker Lara Prasnikar committed herself for three more seasons, her contract now running until 2025.
Sara Doorsoun and Anna Aehling were the new faces added to the squad, signing contracts until 2023.
Having not featured for Wolfsburg this term, 30-year-old defender Doorsoun brings versatility and lots of experience to the side from her years playing for the German national team.
At just 20 years of age, Aehling is seen as a rising star. After playing for 2. Frauen-Bundesliga side FSV Gutersloh between 2018 and 2020, the talented German youth team player left to study in America at Indiana University.
Pace and heading ability are just two of the strengths the defender will bring to the party, as she tastes top-flight football for the first time.
Even after the window slammed shut this past week, Eintracht were still busily putting the pieces together.
Sjoeke Nusken signed on the dotted line for two more years, to take the number of contract extensions to 10 in the last few months. The midfielder, who joined the club in 2019, had something of a breakout season last year. Nusken has proved herself to be a versatile player who can dictate proceedings from the middle of the park. When the opportunity arises, she can also put the ball in the back of the net. Having come through the ranks of the various German national youth teams, she finally made her senior national team debut in a home friendly against Belgium last February.
Sporting director Siegfried Dietrich told the club’s website that offers had come in for Nusken both domestically and from abroad. Naturally, they were happy that the 21-year-old has chosen to stay with the central German outfit.
These additions prove that Eintracht Frankfurt are bidding to be a force in Frauen-Bundesliga. With a settled squad set up and the backing of the club, they should feature around the summit for the rest of this season and for many years to come.
Follow Martin on Twitter @673martin