The Peter Bosz era at Dortmund has begun! After racing out to a frantic pace to begin the transfer window, rumours about new signings have slowed to a crawl in recent days, with potential outgoing business being the most worrisome prospect for fans. Should the club stand firm and maintain the veteran core of the squad, a run at the top of the table, essentially to play for second, as Bayern Munich show no signs of wanting to relinquish the title to their Westphalian rivals.
For Peter Bosz, this is his first real chance to put his stamp on this team, as the business of transfers mostly rest with ruthlessly competent duo Hans Joachim-Watzke and Michael Zorc. Bosz has officially opened training before the pre-season tour of Asia, and he will be grateful to find Mario Gotze has joined the rest of his teammates on the pitch. With Marco Reus, Julian Weigl and Shinji Kagawa all still nursing injuries, and the team looking to switch to Bosz’s preferred 4-3-3, it will be interesting to see if the new manager can have his team ready to go from the season’s first whistle.
With the departure of the tinkering Thomas Tuchel and his wonky but exciting 3-4-2-1, the players will be transitioning into a system that draws heavily on the pass and move possession based systems of former Dutch legend and fellow Ajax alumni, Johan Cruyff, as well as the more modern interpretation of that system deployed by Pep Guardiola. Like Guardiola, and very much in vogue in the modern game, Bosz likes to play a high defensive line with an aggressive press from the front.
Though certain principles unite the current and former bosses’ philosophies, inevitably many players’ standing within the squad could be affected by the formation shift and, of course, new signings arriving. Let’s take a look at some of the team’s biggest winners and losers upon the arrival of Peter Bosz.
With Marco Reus still likely to be injured for a while, and a switch toward a more conventional formation should help the young American continue to thrive. At only 18 years old, Pulisic looks destined not only to be the successor to Reus on the left flank, but he also looks like he could (rather easily, let’s be honest) become the best outfield player in United States history.
In a 4-3-3, Pulisic has the versatility to play on either flank, and in a pinch, could fill in as a playmaker in a centre midfield trio. With a conventional full back behind the pacey winger, he will be free to make his mark in the attacking third, where his quickness and technical ability will shine. Wingers in this system have some defensive responsibilities tracking back, especially if the opponent has mobile full backs of their own, but it is likely that Peter Bosz will ask his forwards to immediately press the opponent after losing possession, leading to a lot of front foot defending for the American. With a manager that loves to nurture young talent, expect to see Pulisic continue towards becoming one of Europe’s best young wide players.
The first new signing on this list, Mahmoud Dahoud arrives from rivals Borrussia Monchengladbach this summer to a talent loaded midfield at the Signal Iduna Park. Few players in the centre of the pitch can match the young German’s dizzying collection of skills. Having actually played in a similar 3 at the back system to Thomas Tuchel (at least in terms of basic shape) at Gladbach, Dahoud himself will also have to adjust to a new formation.
In switching to a 4-3-3, he will slide effortlessly into the centre of the park, just in front of the holding midfielder. Here, Dahoud can compete with Mario Gotze to be the midfield creator, a job that could likely fall to the new boy should Gotze continue to be marred by injury. His passing range arguably already exceeds that of the incumbent, and he is certainly more adept defensively than Gotze. It is his potential as a two way player that should give Bosz the option of pairing the two diminutive but seriously creative playmakers in the same midfield. If he can keep himself healthy enough to keep training and improving, Dortmund have found the perfect young piece to add to their blossoming squad.
Purchased this past winter, perhaps in anticipation of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s eventual departure, the 6’5 striker from Sweden has naturally drawn comparisons to compatriot Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his incredible technical ability and athleticism for his size.
With seemingly no lower limit on age for promising players to get a look in from Bosz, it is likely that Isak will get to see some meaningful game time this season for die schwarzgelben. If, as it has long been rumoured, Aubameyang does indeed leave the club, that would leave an even larger role for Isak to fill, with many other options on the team lacking his physical stature in front of goal, If Aubameyang stays, another year watching one of the best strikers in Europe practice his craft can only help the young Swede.
After an entire calendar year that saw Guerreiro catapult himself into to conversation as one of Europe’s best young midfielders and win Euro 2016 with Portugal, much was expected of him this season. However, after a knock he sustained this summer while again playing for his country, Guerreiro recently had foot surgery that is likely to keep him out until sometime in the autumn.
With the ability to play anywhere in midfield and also at left back, Guerreiro would have fit almost anywhere into Peter Bosz’s 4-3-3. With a healthy Gotze and the signings of Dahoud and Max Philipp, Dortmund will have no difficulty covering for his absence. Upon his return, expect to see him immediately challenging for a berth in the side, but after another busy summer and his resultant injury, he will need to get on the pitch quickly in order to impress his new boss.
Signed last summer in the same transfer class that also saw the arrival of Ousmane Dembele, at the time, Dortmund were looking to replace some of the superhuman production they had received the season before from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Schurrle was expected to slot right in opposite Reus in Dortmund’s attacking trio. However, after a lackluster season and the faster than expected maturity of young, key players like Dembele and Pulisic, Schurrle could find a regular place hard to come by. As a German international, Schurrle could probably expect to walk into most teams in Germany and start immediately. Most teams, however, don’t have Dortmund’s attacking talent.
A former Barcelona man, Marc Bartra was signed last season as a ball moving central defender to compliment the more aggressive style of Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Bartra took a little while to assimilate to the new league, but was able to impress with his technical ability, especially for a defender, while still remaining rather unconvincing in his own end. Bartra lacks the size of a prototypical centre back, but he is able to negate this somewhat with his athleticism.
With the singing of Omer Toprak, Dortmund now have two no nonsense, rugged defenders to help cope in the Champions League and the Bundesliga. Toprak had developed a reputation as one of Germany’s very best defenders in the Bundesliga. Last season with a back 3, Bartra, Toprak and Sokratis could have all started at the same time, but in switching to a 4 man back line, there will have to be a man left out. Despite being the best with the ball at his feet, my selection is Bartra, given that the club’s problems last season stemmed predominantly from stopping the goals, not creating them.
Striker Market Set?
The last couple weeks have been very good for a few players in world football, and after two recent signings set the market for strikers, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his agent can sleep easy at night knowing that after Arsenal forked out £52 million for Alexandre Lacazette and Manchester United paid a whopping £75 million for Romelu Lukaku (and wages around £200k), as he will definitely be able to claim similar wages for himself.
Two new clubs have apparently added their names to the list of Aubameyang’s interested suitors in AC Milan and Chelsea, with Milan prepared to offer €70 million and approximately €140k in weekly wages, while Chelsea appear ready to offer the jet-fueled Gabonese International £200k in wages. Apparently the Milanese believe the one they used to call “the boy with square feet” will forget one of the world’s biggest club’s fans mocking his technical abilities to take significantly less money than is on offer from some of Europe’s elite.
Let me know how that goes for you Milan. Now both of you, get in line.
So what do you think Dortmund Fans? Is the 4-3-3 the way forward for this club? Will Aubameyang stay? Would Bartra start for you over Sokratis? Will Bosz have success in his first season? Let me know what you think!