1. FC Köln announced the departure of Yannick Gerhardt Friday via a transfer to VfL Wolfsburg, making official a bit of news that had been circulating for the better part of the last two weeks. While his (now former) teammates were in Trier for a friendly, Gerhardt arrived at the Geißbockheim with his advisers to negotiate the final resolution of his contract with the club, which had two years remaining on it.
The 22-year-old midfielder made his breakthrough in the 2015-16 season with several notable performances, contributing two goals and four assists in nearly 1,900 minutes on the pitch in service of the effzeh. In light of his decision to spurn the advances of Benfica Lissabon in the 2014 summer transfer window, Gerhardt’s strong 2016 showings had fans in Köln convinced they were watching the emergence of a rising star that would help drive the Billy Goats to new heights and potentially become the face of the club in which he developed from the youth ranks.
Now, Gerhardt will likely best be remembered for the players purchased with what is assumed to be a significant transfer fee. Though the two clubs are not disclosing figures, reports have suggested a range between €12 and €16 million. Transfermarkt.de has listed the fee as €13 million, while BILD has reported €14 million. Whatever the precise number, assuming it to be somewhere in that neighborhood, the Wolves have been made to pay a premium on Gerhardt’s ceiling, and business director Jörg Schmadtke will have gotten a very good price for a player that has shown both a wealth of promise and some of the inconsistency in performance that can be expected of young, developing players.
“Yannick’s transfer request and a decent transfer fee offer from Wolfsburg were the basis for us to reach this decision,” said Schmadtke. “We lose a developed player who grew up in our club. We wish Yannick all the best in his sporting and personal endeavors.”
Gerhardt offered fans insight into his thoughts on the move via his Facebook page.
As you have heard through the media, I will transfer from 1. FC Köln to VfL Wolfsburg.
It was easily the most-difficult decision of my life so far to leave the club in which I grew up and my family and friends.
I came to the conclusion, though, that it was important for my development to take the next step. Hence, I look forward to new challenges in Wolfsburg.
I thank the club, the entire staff, and most of all, the EFFZEH fans I’ve been able to meet in the last 13 years and who showed me so much support. The huge accomplishment of winning the German championship and the Cup win are things I will always remember. I am happy that I could do my part to again establish the FC in the Bundesliga.
A special thanks also must go to the team which made my entry into the professional ranks very easy and has always been there for me. I have made many new friends.
Maacht et joot.