Finally! It’s that time of year once again! The transfer window is now open for English teams with the rest of Europe’s big leagues not far behind on June 1, and Dortmund have some serious work to do. Last season, the free-trading ways of Michael Zorc and Hans-Joachim Watzke finally caught up to the club, and the squad seemed to lack cohesion for much of the year. Gone are the days when the Bundesliga was Bayern, Dortmund, and then everybody else, with Schalke, RB Leipzig, Leverkusen and Hoffenheim all staking their claim to be the runner-up in Germany.
The club seemed to have tied up their most important bit of business already, with news filtering through that Lucien Favre has agreed to become the next Dortmund manager following a disappointing season from both Peter Bosz and Peter Stoeger. Is he the right fit? Who knows, but it is nearly impossible to do any worse than Bosz did following an exceptionally strong start to the season. The club should have a large transfer war chest this summer following 2 seasons of tidy profits and the massive sale of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Arsenal.
It will be a pivotal summer for Borussia Dortmund, as near perpetual change at the club both on and off the pitch has threatened their reputation as a club on the progressive leading edge of Europe’s top 5 leagues. Thomas Tuchel, despite his prickly nature and strong opinions about how he wants to build his own team, was sorely missed last season, and neither Bosz nor Stoeger brought with them the sort of fresh ideas and exciting football that has become a hallmark of the club in the days since the massive transfer spending ceased and the current model was implemented. The signing of Marco Reus to a new deal suggests a plan to compete for the Bundesliga and in Europe is in place, and at the very least the talismanic forward seems to have bought in.
A North London Nuissance
Ok, seriously Arsenal? I get why you would want Sven Mislintat in your back room, I mean, who wouldn’t? I can also understand why you would covet Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as well. You needed to replace Alexis Sanchez and you wanted to boost the attack with a ready-made partnership to help bring the goals back to the Emirates Stadium. All fine by me. But Sokratis Papastatopoulos? Erm…ok. It’s not that he isn’t a good defender (he is), but surely the fact very few Dortmund supporters seem upset that he is leaving isn’t the best of signs for you?
When Mislintat left the only club he had ever worked for in Germany for his new job in North London, it was perhaps expected that he would cast a longing gaze back toward a few of the players he left behind in Dortmund in an attempt to have them join him at Arsenal. However, the club might not have expected the Dortmund-born Head of Recruitment to almost exclusively look to pilfer from his old club. Mislintat has seemingly been all over his former team, with reports filtering out that he is looking to tap up even more players from the Westfalenstadion. Should he continue to go back to the well, it will only add to the mounting list of needs Dortmund must address this summer.
Striker Is Priority Number One
Despite shipping 47 goals this season and struggling to close out opponents on defence for much of the year, it does not appear that the defence is top priority for the club this summer. After the sale of Aubameyang and a wildly successful loan spell for Michy Batshuayi as a last-minute replacement for the departing star, the club have decided it is the position that must be addressed. Batshuayi was a wonderful fit at centre-forward for the club until his injury ended his season in Dortmund, but his brief stay might have been so successful, his parent club Chelsea could be asking too much for the Belgian’s services. The West London side are reportedly asking for north of €50 million for his signature, a sizable fee that Watzke and Zorc will be loathed to pay.
Batshuayi is not the only Chelsea striker to be linked to the club, as last season’s summer signing, Alvaro Morata, is also said to be available. The Spaniard has a winning pedigree, breaking into the Real Madrid senior team and becoming a valuable member of Juventus after making a brief move to Turin. He struggled to adapt to the Premier League, however, after a fast start to life in England, and those issues combined with Batshuayi’s success at Dortmund might entice the club to give him a proper chance to start next season. If so, Morata could be the easier player to pry away from West London this summer, but would he be a fit?
As with most recent transfer windows at Borussia Dortmund, success this summer will not only be dictated by how many players are signed, but also how much the club can stave off others around Europe from treating their squad like a self-serve buffet line. This season, Julian Weigl and Christian Pulisic are the Crown Jewels in the Dortmund crown that all of Europe’s big clubs seem to covet. Of the two, Weigl seems more likely to leave this summer with a reported €50 million price tag being slapped on the young German. He exploded onto the scene under Thomas Tuchel, becoming the fulcrum at the base of the Dortmund midfield, but he has not reached those same heights in the season and a half since. While he is undoubtedly a beloved player for fans and highly thought of by the club, his role and skill set should be much easier t9 replace, and for less money, than his American teammate.
Christian Pulisic may not have had the most consistent season in club history, but he remains perhaps the most lucrative chip to cash in still in the team. Prices ranging from €60-100+ million have been quoted depending on the source, but recently, there have been reports of a swap deal that could entice the club to act on their prized possession. Reports have emerged recently that Manchester United could offer up Anthony Martial in exchange for Pulisic. On the surface, the move makes sense for both clubs as recent World Cup snub Martial is desperate to leave in search of playing time, while Pulisic could move to one of the biggest clubs in the world, where the American would be far more visible to his native fans.
Losing Pulisic would be a massive blow to Dortmund, but Anthony Martial would be a quality consolation prize. He possesses healthy doses of pace and skill, and fits a similar profile to former Dortmund man Ousmane Dembele. The major concern with Martial is that he lacks the positional flexibility of Pulisic, who can play anywhere on the flanks or in the attacking midfield. By contrast, Martial has struggled when asked to perform in other roles besides his favoured left side forward/wing position. This would put him in direct competition with Marco Reus, who also seems to prefer to play there. Still, a player of Martial’s talents would be foolish to ignore, especially if the club have resigned themselves to losing Pulisic in the next couple of windows.