After yesterday's conclusion of the Bundesliga season, 1. FC Union Berlin will say goodbye to eight players who will embark on pastures new. Normally players would get a chance themselves to bid farewell on the pitch at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei, but due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, this is not possible.
The departure of Michael Parensen means the club says goodbye to its longest-serving member of the first-team squad. The 34-year-old joined Union in 2009 and helped the club achieve promotions into the second tier and most recently, the Bundesliga. Parensen has played a major role at the club on and off the park and he fulfilled a lifelong dream to achieve promotion to Germany's top division in 2019. The defender scored against Fortuna Düsseldorf in December and made his 249th appearance for the club against Fortuna on the final day of the league campaign. A member of our club foundation's board of directors, Parensen will continue with the club as an employee.
After 104 matches and 46 goals for 1. FC Union Berlin, Sebastian Polter will leave the club this summer. The goalscoring striker joined the Köpenick club on loan from Mainz in 2014 and netted 14 times across 29 matches in the 2.Bundesliga. Polter spent 18 months at English Championship club Queens Park Rangers before signing permanently for Union Berlin in 2017. He bounced back from serious injury months later to score nine goals as the club secured the first-ever promotion to the Bundesliga. In Germany's top flight, Polter scored two penalty kicks – one at the Allianz Arena against Bayern and one to secure victory in the derby at home to Hertha BSC.
Goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz departs after two seasons in Köpenick. The Polish goalkeeper transferred from Freiburg to Union in 2018 and went on to play 75 times for the club. He kept 24 clean sheets overall and his performances have helped the club establish itself in the Bundesliga. Gikiewicz will live long in the memory of Union supporters for his excellent displays between the sticks and his famous equaliser against Heidenheim in our promotion-winning season.
An experienced central midfielder will leave the club this summer after two seasons at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Manuel Schmiedebach joined from Hannover in 2018 and became an immediate regular in Urs Fischer's promotion-winning side, making 32 appearances. The former Germany U21 international has made six appearances under Fischer this season in the Bundesliga.
The 32-year-old left-back Ken Reichel will leave Union this summer after 37 appearances for the club. The Berlin-born full-back had a habit of scoring against Union for former club Eintracht Braunschweig, but wore the red jersey with professionalism to help the club achieve promotion. Reichel's performances in the Relegation play-off win over VfB Stuttgart have endeared him to many Union supporters.
Keven Schlotterbeck's loan deal from SC Freiburg will come to an end this summer after 27 appearances in the Bundesliga. The 22-year-old central defender has developed into an excellent Bundesliga player for Union, but he will return to the Schwarzwald-Stadion as planned where he is under contract until 2022. Another player returning to his parent club after a loan spell in Köpenick is attacking-midfielder Yunus Malli who made 13 appearances for the club in the Bundesliga.
Meanwhile, the club says farewell to youngster Maurice Miguel Opfermann Arcones. The 20-year-old didn't make an appearance for the club in the Bundesiga after receiving a professional contract in 2019. The midfielder has been part of the Union family since 2011 after joining from TSV Rudow and Arcones has graduated through the club's youth academy into a first-team player.
Director for Professional Football at 1. FC Union Berlin, Oliver Ruhnert, said: "All the players who have left our team this summer have played their part in our successful season. Some of them have already set themselves a milestone with their promotion to the Bundesliga. In the case of Michael Parensen, we are certainly talking about a long-time Union legend. Unfortunately, we aren't allowed to celebrate the farewell together at the moment with the thousands of Union fans in the stadium. Nevertheless, it was important to say goodbye in a dignified way. I would like to thank you on behalf of all Union members, but also very personally for the achievements you have shown. We wish them all the best for their future, both privately and professionally, and we look forward to seeing them now and again at the Alte Försterei."
Felix Kroos and Christian Gentner have contracts at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei until June 30, 2020 but discussions are ongoing with the club about extensions.