Trying to make sense of the amount of money being spent these days in football is rapidly becoming a fruitless exercise. For years, fans and pundits have bemoaned the escalation of player transfer fees and wages, seeing bloated salaries and expensive new purchases increase the financial burden on the common match goer. Average ticket prices have seen a dramatic increase over the last decade in Europe, and in England, where the trend is most dramatic, some fans have been priced out of supporting their team in the flesh entirely.
Surprisingly, it isn’t just the obvious factors like wages and transfer fees that contribute to the ever rising costs in and around a modern football ground. Financial Fair Play (FFP) was initially approved in 2009 and instituted during the 2011 season to specifically help control the inflation of prices all around the game, in addition to checking the considerable financial advantage of some of Europe’s wealthiest teams. The problem with FFP from a fan’s perspective is that often times when sponsorship revenue and television money aren’t enough to cover the club’s current expenses and planned expenditures, the easiest way to generate more cash flow is to increase the cost of tickets and other match day revenue sources.
The reality of football is that not every team has an owner that can simply make money magically appear from his left pocket to put into his right to balance the books. The resulting cost to the average fan has been dramatic. But not nearly as badly in Dortmund.
Transfer Market Winners?
It is not often that a team could be considered to have a successful summer on the transfer market after selling a €100 million talent, but that is exactly what could happen for die Schwarzgelben. The club absolutely fired out of the gate to open the summer, and had all but finished the bulk of their incoming transfer business before players were even back in training. Before most clubs had even gotten around to making offers, Dortmund had already agreed to the signing of defensive stalwart Omer Toprak from Bayer Leverkusen, the criminally underrated (in this author’s estimation) Mahmoud Dahoud from Borussia Monchengladbach, and young Dan Axel-Zagadou from PSG, all for less than €23 million together.
By acting early and tying down their targets as quickly as possible, the club was able to fend off any potential interest in their targets from other teams. Toprak in particular had drawn considerable interest from abroad last season, and despite being one of the best pure defenders in Germany, his fee of €10.8 million borders on robbery, particularly in comparison to the £45 million Everton are about to spend on Iceland international Gylfi Sigurdsson in the cash crazy Premier League.
The team’s early flurry of activity helped them to avoid the massive fees that were increasingly floated around as other club’s picked up their own transfer business. Bringing in a new manager, as they did with Peter Bosz, it was important for Dortmund to get new players in as quickly as possible to integrate into the manager’s high energy 4-3-3.
In sad news for many Dortmund fans, it seems as though Ousmane Dembele’s relationship with the club has fractured beyond repair. Though recent weeks have seen his pending move to Barcelona grow more likely with each passing day, Dortmund are not ready to give up without a fight…or at the very least, without a cargo ship full of cash on offer.
It has also emerged recently that Barcelona were in for Dembele last season as well, but the French international opted for Dortmund, where he would be less likely to be buried in the squad behind the famous MSN attacking trident. Since Neymar Jr’s world record €222 million move to Paris, interest on both sides has been rekindled. For Barcelona, they are in the unfamiliar position of having a metric tonne of money to spend, and holes on the squad to fill- typically it is the other way round (at least when looking at Barcelona’s financial situation over the past few seasons as it appears in the books).
With Barcelona hard on the scent, it remains to be see whether or not the Catalan side opt to sign either Dembele or Liverpool’s talisman, Philippe Coutinho, or perhaps even both. The Merseyside club and the North Rhine club will both be praying that the other is selected, especially with so little time to go in the summer transfer window. It had appeared for a while that Dortmund might keep their man this summer, but now it looks less likely every day. Still, having been a direct beneficiary of the smaller transfer figures early on in the summer window, could now see their investment from a year ago appreciate by a factor of 10. Wow.
A New Confirmed Signing?
Reports late yesterday indicated that Dortmund had agreed terms with fullback Jeremy Toljan, who had been plying his trade with Hoffenheim. A true two-footed player, Toljan can play at either fullback role, as well as up on the left side of midfield. He had recently emerged as a very important player to the German u23 and recent Olympic squads, and he represents another exciting young talent for Peter Bosz to mould into a star.
With Lukasz Piszczek reaching the tale end of his career, Dortmund have been looking for players to layer behind him and left back Marcel Schmelzer for a couple season, and with Toljan, they may have found one to back up both, potentially emerging as the next long term starter in a long line of all-action fullbacks to grace the pitch in Westphalia. Felix Passlack, whose size limitations could see his future lie further up the pitch, will apparently be sent the other way on loan. This represents a win-win for Dortmund, as they receive a Bundesliga ready fullback that can contribute immediately, while still allowing for Passlack, who still figures into the club’s plans, to receive valuable top tier experience.
L’immobile Part Deux?
Quick, what was the worst part about Robert Lewandowski’s move to Bavaria? No, it wasn’t that he moved to Bayern Munich, that sort of thing sadly happens all the time, and from a career standpoint, it is hard for a player to resist the lure of Bayern Munich, who have been giants since…forever. The only correct answer is Ciro Immobile.
Despite having a solid goal scoring record before and after his brief Dortmund career, the plodding Italian was never a fit in the frenetic counter attacking machine that this Dortmund team has been in recent seasons. More of a target man than a marauder on the move, Immobile never could quite become the ‘eye of the storm’ type centre forward that other clubs with attacking talent on the flanks and in midfield employ.
If rumours are to be believed, however, Dortmund may now be hot on the tail of on of the best target men in Europe: Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud. At 6’4 and decidedly un-quick, Giroud is a prototypical aerial threat, and there is no doubt that he could compete physically in the Bundesliga. One look at some of the goals he has recently scored for Arsenal show a player scoring with Premier League defenders draped over his back. Since the start of last season, Giroud has taken on more of a super sub role for the Gunners, and he has scored an incredible amount of important goals for the team, often coming on with the team tied up or down by a goal.
Giroud plays for a side that employs a very similar, fast paced style to Dortmund, and he has refused to relinquish his place to a stable full of more athletic attackers at the Emirates Stadium. While he would undoubtedly represent a coup for the Black and Yellows, Arsenal are no longer the selling club that many in the media still think they are, and Giroud has recently stated his desire to stay in North London. So really, there is nothing not to like about this deal potentially going through for one of the best ‘Plan B’ strikers on planet earth. Except that it isn’t going to happen.
That’s it for today! Is Dembele as good as gone? How would you replace him? What would you think about Olivier Giroud in Dortmund Yellow?