1. FC Köln / Bundesliga / Germany / soccer / Sports

Effzeh auf English: That Daniel van Buyten thing

Didn’t it seem weird to suddenly see headlines connecting FC Bayern München’s Belgian ox of a center back to 1. FC Köln in the form of a summer transfer rumor?

Well, it did to me. I, in fact, found it a bit of a shock. Even though promotion is nearly secured, with only the remotest of remote chances remaining that the club will fail to move up, I’ve not quite adjusted in my head to the team being associated with making moves to acquire Bundesliga-level talent with fairly well-established names.

But I’m also not quite ready to believe that the new-look front office, starring Jörg Schmadtke, would have among its earliest targets a former star in the twilight of his career looking for a soft, well-funded landing spot to extend his career a few more years after falling out of favor with his current club, even if that club is one of the all-time most-talented clubs in history.

In other words, I think it’s nonsense.

From what I can tell, it all started with an article from the Kölnische Rundschau, stating that van Buyten and the Effzeh have “apparently agreed on a one-year contract with options.”

That’s it?!

Offenbar (Apparently)?!” (Apparently)

You’re writing what you know will be a huge story based on “APPARENTLY?!” Are you kidding me?!

“Apparently” this happened, with no quotes or sources or anything, an online news site says it appears to have happened, and it becomes news with no supporting information whatsoever, beyond some circumstantial items, such as van Buyten being at the end of his contract, the Effzeh being in need of bolstering the roster for the Bundesliga, etc.

The situation right this minute is that center back is, of course, a position of need. Kevin Wimmer’s injury has illuminated the roster’s current thinness in the middle of the defense. With Bruno Nascimento still recovering from January ankle surgery, Kevin McKenna has made his first starts of the season since returning from his own injury and looked very rusty and a bit slow. It’s already decided that McKenna is not returning next season, but that he made a second start after such a shaky performance in his first is telling. There are not any great, immediate answers otherwise available to coach Peter Stöger.

So, it certainly could be argued that there is a need for additional help at center back. Further, van Buyten’s strength in the air would fill a void in the current squad, even when healthy. The Effzeh is generally no threat in the air off corners. Fortunately, that lack of presence hasn’t really been too much of an issue with conceding on standards, but I think we can all agree the Bundesliga will offer a much higher degree of difficulty in every facet of the match, set pieces included.

Now, van Buyten has played in eleven Bundesliga matches for the runaway champions this season, which has to speak to some quality, but the fact is that he is as slow as he is big, not to mention two years older than the retiring McKenna. Can he still get some things done? Sure he can! But at what cost?

Does he intend to take a huge pay cut to play for a team that will not be favored to be playing for a European spot (even if we should ALWAYS be favored to seize a European spot)?

Would he arrive expecting he’ll have a similar role in Köln, with semi-limited playing time so Kevin Wimmer’s development is not stymied by watching from the bench?

Or does he somehow displace Dominic Maroh in the last year of his contract, potentially damaging chances of extending a guy who has shown leadership abilities while serving as a rock in the central defense for the most part?

I don’t see a role big enough for van Buyten that would be appealing enough for him to take the sort of money that would make sense to be on offer.

Unless he simply has a major crush on 1. FC Köln, which is something we can all understand, and, in which case, he should be greeted with open arms, a Kölsch, and a comfy chair from which he can largely watch next season.

I do not suspect this is the case, however.

Nor does van Buyten’s representation, who dismissed the rapidly spreading rumors as “a belated April Fools prank.”

Nor, for that matter, does Jörg Schmadtke, who has stated quite plainly that “there is no contract between Daniel van Buyten and the FC.”

But as happens sometimes with these stories, even with no sources given, is that they turn out to be true at some point, so we cannot dismiss it completely, assuming the author, Joachim Schmidt, was aware that creating such a story out of thin air would end his career if it were ever learned that was what he did.

So, maybe van Buyten is looking at playing for Belgium this summer in Brazil with an eye toward joining a club that has a lower profile than his current employer, but has fan support that is at least the equal to that in Bavaria, all within a much shorter train/car/plan ride of his homeland. Maybe he’s a football romantic who’s always wanted to be part of the Karneval festivities in the Karneval capital.

Maybe a billion things, none of which seem likely. . . or “offenbar,” as it were . . .

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