With every day that passes, Borussia Dortmund edge closer towards a season in which they have a very real opportunity to make some noise both domestically and in Europe. For some fans however, it just doesn’t feel that way.
For months now, the club’s two most talented attackers (able to dress for most matches that is, apologies to Marco Reus) have been linked to virtually any club across Europe with ambition, money, and a hole to fill. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has seemingly been poised for a move to a bigger club for years now, and though time may be running out for a deal to happen this summer, the possibility remains. Ousmane Dembele, whose list of public admirers is far shorter than the Gabonese striker, would probably end up commanding the bigger fee of the two, given his age, term and Ballon d’Or level potential, but both players are top class, and could walk into most starting XIs in Europe.
Unlike some transfers in past years, in which the club struggled to maintain their leverage in negotiations and maximise their return (admittedly not helped by a certain Bavarian rival’s propensity for turning the heads of Dortmund’s best), the club have managed to hold firm in their demands for Aubameyang and Dembele.
Since very nearly going bust in the not so distant past, the club has stuck to its principles and budget while rebuilding the team back into a consistent threat in the Bundesliga, and a menacing challenge for some of the best teams on the continent in European competition. In addition to excellent talent scouting and development, Dortmund have not overextended themselves to keep players, showing little to no hesitation selling some of the squads best and moving on to the next man in the pipeline. The depth of young talent throughout the squad is a testament to the success of this approach.
With Aubameyang, the team has not strayed from their approach, despite the immense talent and goal scoring record of the striker. The club has long maintained this summer that any team that meets their €70 million valuation can sign him up. Given some of the outrageous prices that some clubs have been willing to pay this season, including the logic defying £75 million move of Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United, Aubameyang’s price tag could be a steal. Though both players were known early in their careers as being hugely gifted physically but deficient technically, Aubameyang has developed every single season and is now one of the most versatile goal threats in the world.
Dortmund, however, are running out of patience. The club told potential suitors at the beginning of the window that any deal done for the striker would have to be finalised with enough time left for a replacement to be found. This week, the club have issued a warning that time is running out, and they would be perfectly happy to keep their best goalscorer for another season if they must.
At this time, only Chelsea look as if they may make a bid. Having lost out on a Lukaku return to Stamford Bridge, and reportedly unwilling to get into a bidding war for Real Madrid star, Alvaro Morata, they could now turn to Dortmund in an attempt to pry their talisman away. Teams that win the league don’t typically lose their star striker and leading goal scorer the season after, but for Chelsea, that is exactly what appears to be the case. In fact, Diego Costa wants to leave for Atletico Madrid so badly, he will even accept a loan to Las Palmas until Atleti complete their transfer ban. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may be the last truly world class striker available for purchase this summer, so it will be interesting to see how he could react if forced to stay for another season. My best guess for the summer? He goes. It looks promising now, and fans will be starting to let themselves believe that he might stay, but Chelsea will be desperate to sign someone to lead the line with enough quality to make a repeat challenge for the league title. If he does go, Dortmund can expect a handsome fee in return.
In a story that made little noise a while back, Julian Weigl was linked to Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United to add to a surprisingly mediocre central midfield at Old Trafford. The Portuguese manager already has one of the best midfielders in the world in Paul Pogba, but he lacks a true single pivot: a player that can control the tempo of the match from the base of the midfield, as well as offer able defence when called upon. Still young, and fitting such a description to the letter, Weigl would naturally be appealing to most managers in Europe. However, with Dortmund likely returning to a 4-3-3, with Weigl’s best position anchoring the midfield, expect him to stay and learn under Peter Bosz, at least for another season.
The Loan Option
With the astonishing news that Bayern Munich have signed Real Madrid star James Rodriguez, the whole world was served with a reminder of why the Bavarian club are so successful. The move came out of nowhere, and it truly benefits both parties, allowing James a change of scenery for a couple seasons, perhaps returning to take up Cristiano Ronaldo’s mantle as Madrid’s leading light. For the time being, however, he is the rest of the Bundesliga’s problem.
With such a deep and competitive squad, it is unlikely that any major players will come to the Signal Iduna Park on temporary terms, but some in the squad may benefit from a loan elsewhere.
Andre Schurrle, signed last season for over €20 million, but didn’t have the impact last season that many were hoping he would, actually falling behind young American Christian Pulisic as Marco Reus’ injury replacement. It is difficult to say whether or not the team would be able to recoup the money spent on him last season, so perhaps a successful move elsewhere in Germany would see his value return. Given he was signed in no small part due to his relationship with departed manager Thomas Tuchel, his time in Westphalia could be coming to a close.
Sebastian Rode is another player that could benefit from a loan move or even a permanent deal. Signed from Bayern Munich, a move that certainly helps endear a player to the fans, Rode failed to ever really make a mark last season before getting injured. His problem is mainly that in a midfield stuffed with a diverse collection of talent, he does nothing exceptionally well. With the addition of Mahmoud Dahoud, Mario Gotze hopefully staying healthy for a whole season, and the converted Raphael Guerreiro showing brilliance at times last year, Rode could find minutes this season a very difficult proposition. Perhaps he too could benefit from a move elsewhere.
Finally, Erik Durm is another player who could benefit tremendously from a move elsewhere in search of valuable game minutes. Young, talented and full of pace, Durm has seemingly been on the verge at Dortmund for years, with captain Marcel Schmelzer still holding his place over both Durm and Guerreiro. Schmelzer is now nearing 30 and Dortmund full backs are always tasked with tireless running regardless who manages the club, age or injury could strike the veteran at any time, leaving the younger Durm with another opportunity to take the role for himself. At 25, he is running out of time to reach the heights that some thought he would, but he is still a valuable squad piece and is an exciting player to watch on the left flank when on form. He probably won’t be sold this season, but a loan could kickstart the German international’s plateauing career.
So what do you think Dortmund fans? Are we just getting our hopes up that Aubameyang will stay? How will Bosz get this team to play this year? It is going to be one heck of a year.