Bundesliga club Hannover 96 have brought in another highly-touted young midfielder, buying 19-year-old Leonardo Bittencourt. Left winger Bittencourt made his name in the second division before joining Dortmund.
German U20 international Bittencourt said on Tuesday that he was excited to complete a transfer to Hannover on a four-year contract.
"I have a very good feeling that Hannover now offers exactly the right stage for me," the 19-year-old said of his new club. Having jumped from second-division Cottbus to star-studded Borussia Dortmund last summer, albeit without subsequently managing to establish his first-team credentials, Bittencourt said he hoped to make a more immediate impact with mid-table Hannover.
Bittencourt pointed to 20-year-old Andre Hoffmann, who quickly established himself in the injury-hit northern German side after a winter move from Duisburg this season, as "the best piece of evidence showing how young players can find their place in the Hannover team. That's precisely my goal, too."
The attacking midfielder, a natural left winger with two good feet and a Brazilian passport to accompany his German one, will wear squad number 32 in his first campaign with Hannover. As a part of the sale rumored to be worth around 3 million euros ($4 million), Borussia Dortmund secured a buy-back option for the youngster.
Bittencourt's breakout season was with second-division Energie Cottbus in 2011/12. A solid season aged just 17 caught Dortmund's eye and prompted them to bring him up to the top flight. He has spent most of the season playing third-tier football with Dortmund's reserve outfits, but started two Bundesliga games and scored one league goal for the seniors this season as a fringe player.
Young guns for the midfield
Hannover coach Mirko Slomka said he was happy to add a "fast attacking player with good dribbling skills" to his lineup. Slomka's side finished ninth in the table this season, suffering with long-term injuries to key midfielders Leon Andreasen and later Szabolcs Huszti.
The club last week won the race for one of relegated Bundesliga outfit Greuther Fürth's standout players, midfielder Edgar Prib. Both Prib, 23, and Bittencourt are capable options who also have time on their side.
For Dortmund, Bittencourt is the second teen talent plucked from the lower leagues that the club has since proceeded to sell on. Earlier in June, Dortmund confirmed that young defensive all-rounder Julian Koch would move to Mainz after a pair of loan spells away from Dortmund at Duisburg.
The Bundesliga runners-up, most consistently in the transfer news over their struggle to cling on to Polish star striker Robert Lewandowski, were also linked with Danish international and Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen on Monday. Several German media reports suggested a deal was virtually sealed, but the club put it down to "silly season" transfer talk.
"I read that with astonishment too," sporting director Michael Zorc told Tuesday's edition of the Ruhr Nachrichten newspaper. He said Chelsea's Kevin de Bruyne, who spent this season on loan at Werder Bremen, remained his top transfer target.
"The player wants to join us. But when it comes to doing a deal, the ball is not in our court," Zorc said of the Belgian winger, who has reportedly been told by Chelsea that the London club will not be seeking to loan him out again this season.
msh/rc (dpa, SID)