BVB’s biggest bargains
For the past few decades, Borussia Dortmund have won worldwide acclaim for being one of the most well-ran football clubs on the globe.
The club’s shrewd recruitment and player development, particularly of young stars, have brought significant rewards both on and off the pitch.
Jürgen Klopp’s legendary BVB side of the early 2010s was built upon bargains.
These were players who hadn’t necessarily garnered a ‘wonderkid’ reputation but unassuming, hard-working footballers who grafted for their successes.
Ilkay Gundogan, Sven Bender, Neven Subotic and Jakub Błaszczykowski all came to ‘die Schwarzgelben’ for low fees but contributed enormously to their team’s successes.
Academy products Mario Götze, Marcel Schmelzer, Nuri Sahin and Lars Ricken are the ultimate bargains.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – the eighth top goalscorer in Dortmund history – left the club for over €50m more than the €13m he arrived for.
Similarly, astronomic profits were made from Jude Bellingham, Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland. The trio departed for a combined €248m after becoming global superstars in black and yellow.
Current fan favourites Gregor Kobel and Nico Schlotterbeck moved to Signal Iduna Park in recent summers for small fees; they may well be considered major bargains in a few years’ time.
396 appearances. 164 goals. 123 assists. 11 years of impeccable loyalty and sheer brilliance on the pitch. Any fee to acquire such a legacy can be considered a bargain.
But the €17.1m paid to bring boyhood ‘Borusse’ Marco Reus home in 2012 stands as one of the best value football transfers of the century.
Marco Reus has seen them all come and go 💛 pic.twitter.com/pmqnhEVsMS
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 26, 2022
However, as value goes, Borussia Dortmund have perhaps had better deals.
This article looks back at some of the club’s very best.
Łukasz Piszczek – Free
In 2010, Dortmund completed the acquisition of 25-year-old Polish free agent Łukasz Piszczek from Hertha Berlin.
Piszczek had moved to the German capital from his native land six years earlier, signing his first professional contract at 19.
After two years of being a squad player in the Hertha attack, he finally made the right-back spot his own and his performances earned him a move to ‘die Schwarzgelben’.
In his first three seasons, the full-back had won three major honours and had registered 25 assists in the Bundesliga for Klopp’s men.
Throughout those prime years, there were few better right-backs on the continent than Piszczek and he continued to deliver for BVB into his 30’s.
Although injuries gradually chipped away at his game time, the 66-time Poland international never failed to give 110% for the badge, leaving with 382 appearances to his name.
His 11 years in black and yellow were something special.
Dede – €3.3m
A man who arrived with a more glittering reputation, Leonardo de Deus Santos, better known as Dede, came to Signal Iduna Park as the Brazilian league’s best left-back at just 20 years old in 1998.
Arriving with the anticipation that comes with being a Brazilian footballer, the defender certainly lived up to that hype.
Dede served 13 years in North Rhine-Westphalia, winning two Bundesliga titles; he played a key role in the first of those, playing 45 times as ‘die Borussen’ also reached the UEFA Cup final in 2002.
The 2007-08 campaign saw the former Atletico Mineiro man register 10 Bundesliga assists from full-back.
Just one international cap seems a disservice to a man who played 398 times for the 1997 European champions.
For a foreign player to spend 13 seasons and be so reliable for such a huge club is a testament to the player Dede was. A little over €3m was certainly a bargain.
Roman Weidenfeller – Free
Every great side needs a reliable pair of hands in net and Roman Weidenfeller was exactly that for the Black and Yellows for 16 years.
Arriving as a 22-year-old from Kaiserslautern for free, Weidenfeller initially had to contest with Jens Lehmann and Guillaume Wurmaz for the number one spot.
But once he’d secured it in the 2004-05 season, he never looked back.
The German became a club legend at Signal Iduna Park, keeping 148 clean sheets in 453 appearances for the club.
His form throughout the glory days under Klopp earned him his international debut, as he went on to be a part of Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning side.
Sebastian Kehl – €3.2m
Current Sporting Director Sebastian Kehl became a Borussia Dortmund player in January 2002, turning down Bayern Munich to join the club from Freiburg in a deal worth €3.2m.
The defensive midfielder lifted the Bundesliga title just months into his spell in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Kehl became a regular starter over the course of many seasons in black and yellow, eventually becoming captain under Klopp.
He played every minute of the club’s 2012 DFB-Pokal win and featured nine times along the way to the 2013 Champions League final.
Retiring in 2015 after 362 appearances, Kehl had become a legend. He couldn’t stay away for long, however, as he would join the club’s hierarchy a few years later.
Shinji Kagawa – €350k
Another star of the golden era, Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa joined BVB from Cerezo Osaka in 2010.
The club paid just over €300k for the 21-year-old.
Kagawa instantly showed his promise for Klopp’s side and delivered on that promise, producing a phenomenal 2011-12 season.
That year, the diminutive attacking midfielder scored 17 goals and assisted 14 in all competitions as ‘die Borussen’ won the double.
Such incredible form earned him a move to English giants Manchester United the following summer, as Kagawa left behind countless moments of magic.
No Japanese player in the history of Europe’s Top Five Leagues has more goals (41) and assists (37) than Shinji Kagawa ⭐️
Japanese football legend 🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/f6w14YA92X
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) March 17, 2022
An unbreakable bond was formed between himself and the Yellow Wall and he eventually returned just two years later for another impressive stint.
Kagawa departed in 2019 after 216 appearances, 60 goals, 55 assists, two Bundesliga titles and two cups to match.
Mats Hummels – €4.2m
Like Weidenfeller, Mats Hummels also became a world champion with Germany.
Weidenfeller was shielded by a formidable defensive duo of Hummels and Subotic in that iconic side.
The German centre-back, who is a product of the Bayern Munich academy, initially joined ‘die Schwarzgelben’ on loan in 2008 for 18 months.
That deal was made permanent in 2009 and Hummels became a Dortmund legend.
Mats Hummels: Record Breaker 🖤💛
The most Bundesliga wins in BVB History. Congrats, Mats 🙌 pic.twitter.com/p9fmeMCMje
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) October 8, 2023
Regarded as one European football’s best defenders at the time, Hummels was a stalwart in the side that won successive league titles, a Pokal and reached the Champions League final.
Despite rejoining Bayern in 2016 after becoming captain, the 34-year-old returned to Signal Iduna Park in 2019.
Only Michael Zorc has a higher appearance tally for the club than Hummels’ 480. 36 goals and 22 assists from defence in that time is quite remarkable and owes to his legendary status with Borussia Dortmund.
Kevin Grosskreutz – Free
Born in Dortmund, Kevin Großkreutz is ‘Borusse’ through and through.
A World Cup winner with Germany, the right-sided engine was a vital asset for Klopp’s Black and Yellows and an ever dependable member of the squad.
Joining from Rot-Weiss Ahlen on a free transfer as a 21-year-old in 2009, Großkreutz spent six years at Signal Iduna Park and was a fans’ favourite.
Now 35 and playing in the sixth tier for Wacker Castrop, the German played in a wide variety of positions for the club, yet found his most fruitful form out on the left wing.
In those successive title wins of 2011 and 2012 Großkreutz was particularly influential, registering 29 direct goal contributions.
Robert Lewandowski – €4.75m
Arriving for less than €5m in 2010, few could’ve predicted back then exactly what 22-year-old Robert Lewandowski would go on to achieve throughout his career.
It was in black and yellow where he first showcased his skills on the biggest stage.
Following the Poland international’s debut campaign, Lewandowski netted 66 times across three Bundesliga seasons for the club, winning the golden boot in his final term.
Ending the 2011-12 season with 30 goals and 12 assists in all competitions, culminating in a Pokal final hat-trick against Bayern, ‘Lewa’ was the main man in that double-winning side, and in the side that went on to reach the Champions League final.
This was when the world truly started to take notice. 36 goals. 13 assists.
🏟️ Borussia Dortmund 4-1 Real Madrid – 2012/13
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) November 15, 2023
10 of those goals came en route to Wembley, four of which coming in the semi-final against Real Madrid, as he almost single-handedly dismantled a European juggernaut.
Lewandowski’s final season saw him net 28 times, claiming 13 assists, as he won the Bundesliga golden boot before completing the switch to Munich.
There have been fewer bigger bargains in BVB history than the Pole, but Bayern seemed to get an even bigger one, as he established himself as one of the game’s finest number nines at the Allianz Arena.
BVB: The best at bargains
Dortmund simply know when they’ve found a bargain. They can uncover hidden gems and nurture young talent, and this is largely part of the reason why the club is so fondly thought of worldwide.
This keeps the Yellow Wall firmly believing in any signings the club makes.
The jury’s out on the 2023 crop of summer signings, but who knows how their future looks in black and yellow?
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) November 7, 2023
Felix Nmecha has made a strong start, while Ramy Bensebaini, Niclas Füllkrug and Marcel Sabitzer all came in for low fees (or no fee, in Bensebaini’s case).
Rarely are top sides built on such shrewd market activity. It remains to be seen whether we will see anything like it again.