There is a painful element about being a selling club. Not only are they lambs to the slaughter of the elite of their continent, but they also become the target of their very own domestic league. Case in point is in Germany, with Bayern Munich becoming the superior club in the land of the world champions. They have always been the club poaching players from their rivals in the Bundesliga, but in the last few years, they have always targeted one club … Borussia Dortmund.
Mario Goetze, Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels have been some of the names to swap the Signal Iduna for the Allianz, and this has seen tensions between Germany’s two powerhouses exploding. There is a case to defend those players departing. Bayern is one of the flagship clubs of Europe, and salary wise, no one comes close to matching the Bavarians because sponsorship at the Allianz Arena is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. But this season, Dortmund are aiming to change all of that, even though they lost three massive players in Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ilkay Gundogan and Mats Hummels.
The Hummels deal hurt Die Borussen fans the most, with him heading to Bayern, while the other two went to Manchester (Henrikh to United and Ilkay to City). But have those transfers by any means dent any sort of ambitions for Dortmund? The answer is a simple no.
Head coach Thomas Tuchel was smart in the transfer window, getting his blessings from club chief executive Hans Joachim Watzke to go into the market and not only spend a sensible amount, but most importantly spending wisely. In defence, Barca reject Marc Bartra seems to have eased the pain of Hummels’ departure, and while he may not seem the out and out replacement for the German, Bartra is doing a relatively decent job. Euro 2016 winner with Portugal Raphael Guerreiro seems to have made that left-back position his own, but it is from the midfield up which sees the pure strength of Dortmund.
Sebastian Rode (a Bayern academy player) is not quite the answer as yet for Gundogan, but he will learn under Tuchel. Goetze returning to the Signal Iduna arena signals Tuchel’s intentions to fulfill the talent of the young playmaker, and even though his Judas status remains with some Dortmind faitful, he has time to change all of that. Andre Scheurrle brings added depth to the forward line, and along with Pierre Emerick Aubameyeng can provide a good headache for Tuchel.
But there are two players who will stand out for Dortmund this season, Christian Pulisic and Emre Mor. Not since maybe Landon Donovan, has an American player generated this much interest in Europe. Not only is the 17-year-old’s versatility in the forward line that good, but his insane of amount pace and vision makes him a player that, in the next few years, a target of a move away from Dortmund. He has already become an integral part of Tuchel’s plans for the present and future, and signing him as a 16-year-old may be a masterstroke from the Dortmund boss.
The other is Emre Mor, many who are saying he may be the next great Turkish player after the iconic Hakan Sukur. Mor, just like Pulisic, has everything a winger would want, and if he may not be a starter for Tuchel, he surely plays the part well as a squad player and will be a future hit within the set-up of Dortmund. There is also Ousmane Dembele, another versatile player who brings another dynamic into the attack of Dortmund.
112 million Euros. That is what Tuchel spent during the past transfer window. Dortmund as a club and brand have always been financially sound, and for once, they have spent more than their rivals from Bavaria (75 million on Hummels and Renato Sanches) even though their squad from previous seasons is strong enough. So what now for Dortmund?
Challenging for the Bundeliga is a reality, and with the depth in the squad, Tuchel has no excuse should they not try and produce a push for the Championship. Their six-point deficit to Carlo Ancelotti’s side can be caught up, and achieving that now rather than later will help the cause. But it is the retaining of talent that will concern Dortmund? The likes of Pulisic, Mor and especially Aubameyang provide the Dortmund chiefs with the notion that they may not be at the Signal Iduna for the long run.
One needs to remember that Dortmund are an elite club not only in Germany, but also in Europe. The right management, club ambitions and continuous challengers and eventually winning trophies can see their star players committing to the cause of Die Borussen.