It almost felt too good to be true. With over a month left in the transfer window, it appeared that Dortmund had made it through another summer without losing their most talismanic players. The club publicly declared their own self imposed transfer window for the sale of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shut, as they had claimed there would not be enough time left in the window to find and sign an adequate replacement.
However, it appears that it is Ousmane Dembele and not the star Gabonese striker who is on his way out of the Ruhrpott after all. With over €200 million in fresh cash on hand after the surprise sale of Neymar to PSG, Barcelona have turned their gaze towards the French wizard at Dortmund, as well as Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool in an attempt to fill the hole left by the Brazilian.
For Peter Bosz, losing a future Ballon d’Or potential player is not how he would like to start his Dortmund career, but luckily Dortmund are not short on attacking talent. As fellow 1B elite club Arsenal have known for years, what Barcelona want, they typically get, no matter how under the table their tactics are. Let’s look at some of the ways that Dortmund might try and replace their young star before the end of the window.
The Internal Solution
For any club, replacing a star with a player (or players) internally is always the easiest and most cost efficient way of moving on. For a club that has scored over 150 goals in the last 2 seasons, Dortmund certainly don’t seem to want for attacking firepower. Not only do die Schwarzgelben have several players at the same position ready to step up, they also have young players for the role as well, some of whom have nearly as much potential as the classy Frenchman.
For many, the obvious choice would be to replace him with fellow young stud, Christian Pulisic, but there is a problem with that: being Marco Reus’ cover in the event of injury is increasingly becoming a full time job, and one that the young American has taken full advantage of. Should Reus come back and stay healthy, then Pulisic could easily switch over to the right side and thrive. He is even younger than Dembele, and despite lacking the global name recognition that Dembele has enjoyed, particularly after a 4 goal display last summer in a friendly against Barcelona, he certainly has the ability to soften the blow of Dembele’s loss.
Elsewhere, Bosz could try to make the role Andre Schurrle’s for the foreseeable future. After a thoroughly forgettable first campaign at the Westfalenstadion, Schurrle will be looking to get his Dortmund career off to a better start this year. Full of pace and still a well of untapped potential, the German international has already had a well travelled career, but wherever he has been has not been able to fulfil his potential in the eyes of many. With this probably his last season to prove himself in front of the Yellow Wall, maybe this is finally the chance that Schurrle needs.
If Dortmund are looking to go developmental at the spot, then Bosz could also look to get Emre Mor or Alexander Isak some more time on the pitch as well. Mor, much more a winger than Isak in terms of skill set, could benefit the most from this unexpected opening in the XI. Despite lacking much of the mental game at this point in his career, Mor has good pace, elite quickness, and is very tricky on the ball. He will not be the distributor that Dembele was without making some significant strides in his own game, but the flair is there, should he club wish to retain that level of excitement in the side.
Despite the less than ideal timing of the Dembele move, Dortmund still have just under a month to find a replacement, should they so choose.
Also being allegedly pursued by Arsenal, Lucas Moura found himself forced into an even smaller role for PSG after the signing of Neymar in the French capital. After joining PSG for a mammoth €45 million in 2012, Lucas’ future looked bright. However, as is often the case with the nouveau riche club, Lucas’ development seemed to flatline to the point of regression by the time last season rolled around. Still just 24, he has all of the physical tools needed to succeed, and perhaps a change of scenery could benefit the Brazilian more than anything else, and he would certainly fit in to the Dortmund high octane attack.
Eagle eyed viewers may remember William’s name coming up when Aubameyang appeared sure to leave the club earlier this summer. Plying his trade for Atletico Bilbao in La Liga, the 23 year old had a bit of a down year compared to to the 2015/16 campaign which had many extremely excited to watch out for him as a potential breakout star last season. Having signed a contract extension a year ago with a €50 million release clause, he is naturally projected to be a star. Should Dortmund be willing to buy a player who’s ultimate future may lie at the centre forward position, he could represent a prudent signing for Dortmund, both to replace Dembele now, and to eventually replace Aubameyang at the striker position. I really think that this could be the year that Williams breaks out for good. Might as well see that happen with Dortmund, no?