One of the earliest names linked with a move to Huddersfield Town this summer was Borussia Dortmund II defender, Herbert Bockhorn.
The transfer was confirmed earlier this afternoon. Bockborn arrives as Town’s fourth signing of the summer as the club continues to prepare for life back in the Championship.
The 24-year-old had predominantly plied his trade in the Regionaliga with SC Wiedenbrück and Borussia Dortmund II, before making the decision to re-join Jan Siewert in West Yorkshire.
It’s a signing that harks back to the summer of 2016 when relatively unknowns made the switch from the lower echelons of Germany and, under the tutelage of David Wagner, wrote themselves into Huddersfield Town folklore.
Despite having parachute payments, there has been no indication yet that Town will be taking their economic advantages for granted and instead, the transfer strategy will be a shrewd one.
It reflects the tried and tested methods which brought so much success the last time they were in the Championship.
This signing is an intriguing one as Bockhorn arrives in the midst of a summer of transition, not only from the Premier League to the Championship but also from David Wagner to Jan Siewert.
Whilst Town have already brought in Tommy Elphick, Reece Brown and Josh Korona, Bockhorn is the first signing of the summer which feels like it has Siewert’s fingerprints all over it.
Siewert cited Bockhorn’s versatility to fill in as a full-back on either side and even play further forward as a real asset. However, with rumours continuing to rumble that Tommy Smith is looking likely to depart this summer – either to Celtic or Stoke City – Bockhorn appears to be an immediate replacement for him.
It was expected that Florent Hadergjonaj would depart this summer with suggestions being made that he was unwilling to drop down to the Championship.
However, it now seems that we could potentially see Bockhorn, Hadergjonaj and Demeaco Duhaney competing for that right-back berth in Jan Siewert’s starting XI.
With Tommy Smith surprisingly not part of Jan Siewert’s plans despite his recognised ability to perform well at the Championship level, the acquisition of Bockhorn from Borussia Dortmund II could be seen as Siewert’s first attempt to stamp his mark on the side and move away from the squad built by David Wagner.
Beyond the broader significance, on the pitch Bockhorn appears to be a player that ideally fits Siewert’s desire to play a fluid attacking brand of football.
Blessed with raw pace and athleticism, whilst some players who make the switch from German football to England take time to adapt due to the increased frenetic nature of the game and the added physicality, it should not be something that Bockhorn struggles to adjust to.
What will be particularly important for Siewert is his accomplished nature on the ball and his comfort to carry the ball forward and support attacks. With seven goal contributions (four goals and three assists) last season, Siewert will be hoping for a similar return.
We saw during Town’s promotion season how effective progressive full-backs can be as a further attacking threat and as the initial instigators of attacks.
In Bockhorn, a full-back who has shown a willingness to bomb forward and press relentlessly and sacrificially for the sake of the side, there is the potential for him to do the same and be equally effective for Town next season.
More significantly, Bockhorn arrives as someone who truly understands Siewert’s footballing ideology as well as someone who can translate it on to the pitch, from the off.
More and more Championship sides are turning to the lower German leagues in search of hidden gems at an affordable price in a market where transfer fees have exponentially skyrocketed.
It has been proven on countless occasions, that the gap can be bridged between the lower German leagues and the Championship to remarkable effect.
In the case of Bockhorn, the 24-year-old has the added advantage of playing under a manager that has brought the best out of him in the past.
Siewert will hope, despite the changing environment and raised standard, the same can be said for next season.