If there is a team in all of Europe at more of a distinct crossroads than Borussia Dortmund, I have yet to encounter them. After a season that included a deceptive 3rd place finish, given the 18 point gap between the Black and Yellow and Champions Bayern Munich, Dortmund decided to part ways with their young and innovative manager, Thomas Tuchel. It was a protracted disagreement first over transfer policy, then more recently, his disenchantment with how UEFA and the club handled the aftermath of the disgraceful bombing attack on the team bus.
The club is sure to attract some quality names for the position, both with its alluring blend of prime aged international level footballers, and a veritable squadron of exciting youth throughout the squad. The next manager will have to work with an extremely capable and powerful (seeing off one of Europe’s best young coaches with little hesitation) club hierarchy, including Michael Zorc and Hans-Joachim Watzke, who seem to have committed the club to a full blown youth movement.
Over the next eight weeks, we will look to cull some of the best, most likely, and most fun to consider rumours from around the globe about die Schwarzgelben, as they look to build a staying power to challenge the mighty and omnipotent Bayern Munich. All roads to the Bundesliga title invariably intersect the Sabener Strasse, and Dortmund must find a manager capable of making the routine life of winning the Bundesliga much more difficult for the Bavarians. As the summer heats up and these stories start to gain steam, we will be far more able to judge their credence.
Without further ado, here is the first look of the summer at possible comings and goings at Borussia Dortmund.
Unlike some managers who have meteoric rises to coaching at a top club, Bosz has taken a longer approach to his current role as Ajax manager. Though only having been on the job for a year, his young Ajax were the talk of the Europa League with their open attacking play and extremely energetic pressing in defence. More similar in style to Juergen Klopp than the outgoing Thomas Tuchel, the53-year-oldd Bosz played at Feynoord during his career, and held many jobs around the Dutch league until finally getting a chance to be a manager with SBV Vitesse in 2013. After a brief but successful detour through Tel Aviv, he finally joined Ajax before the start of this season.
As both a practitioner of Cruyff-esque tactics, as well as proven success this year in developing a young squad, he could very well fit what Dortmund are trying to do in building a squad with elite young talent. His coaching style should also mesh quite well with the current squad, as most players have plenty of experience in hard working but creative styles of play. With the club having preferred active, ball moving defenders for quite a while now in their back line, perhaps bringing Bosz into the club could potentially tempt a young Ajax talent like Kenny Tete or Jairo Riedewald to follow suit.
Though he seems to fit nicely with the youth movement happening at the Signal Iduna Park, he may not yet be ready for such a large club, having only managed in much weaker leagues to date than the Bundesliga. His is not a name that will bring much rampant excitement to the fanbase, although the club is not opposed to hiring managers who aren’t yet household names. It is too early to rate the validity of this rumour, but my inclination is that it makes too much sense to be entirely fabricated.
Elsewhere this week, current Nice manager, Lucien Favre will stay on the Riviera for at least one more season after being linked with the Dortmund job in some circles. The most talked about young manager in Germany at present, Julian Nagalsmann has also been linked, but to this point seems to be mostly speculation, as at 29 he might be a bit young for such a major job in European football. A few more exceptional seasons like he had with Hoffenheim, age will cease to be a part of the equation altogether as he becomes one of the hottest commodities on the continent. One to keep an eye on for the future, no doubt, but probably not happening this time around.
Whenever a team falls short of its goals and the manager quits, it is inevitable that the rumours surrounding possible departures are going to be louder than usual. When that team has as much world class talent as Dortmund have in their squad, coupled with uncertainty, and facing the prospect of a full youth-oriented reload, the rumours grow louder still. Pierre-Emmerick Aubameyang is rumoured to be on the way to Paris Saint-German, with Matthias Ginter also seeming set to move away, most likely to Koln. Sebastian Rode has been invisible or injured since his arrival from Munich, but he never seemed to fit the team even when healthy. He is probably set to move this summer. There has been talk of Marco Reus making a move abroad, perhaps even to England, but with every injury comes the diminishing chances of a massive bid coming in for the forward. When healthy, there are few players in the whole world as exciting, but it is not exactly clear how likely a team is to get a full season out of him. He has also made every indication of his love for his club and its fans, so unless major noise starts being made, expect to see him continue to shine in front of the Yellow Wall when healthy.
Although some names have started to come out in connection to the club, until Dortmund find a new manager and get some of their best players to buy into the vision and stay at the club, they are unable to be overly aggressive on the transfer market.
Regardless who signs on to be the manager, Dortmund will likely focus on their defence, a unit that allowed 40 goals during the Bundesliga season. As an open, attack minded team, they are pretty well stocked up front, but if Aubameyang leaves, it creates a 40 goal deficit across all competitions from last season that would need to be replaced.
We start, not with a rumour, but rather a confirmed signing, and one that must not be underestimated. Dahoud is an all-round midfielder, with the engine to play box to box, the will to defend, and the creative flair of a player far less willing to scrap. He is more quick than fast, but he has the natural ability to make defenders miss when he takes them on. Still young and incredibly highly touted, the young German is the second potentially world class centre midfielder that Borussia Monchengladbach have surrendered in as many years, but his signing spells only good things for Dortmund, as he joins a stacked list of young, exciting and still improving players at the club. An excellent statement of intent from the club, and a name that will be known around the world before too long. One of my favourite young midfielders.
A Czech native, this Sampdoria striker has got a lot of Dortmund fans talking, as he seems to have a game tailor made for Germany. He stands over 6 feet tall, and has deceptive skill for his size (compared to a young Dennis Bergkamp in that inimitable media concocted way) meaning he can be a threat with the ball on the ground or in the air. The 21-year-old scored 11 goals in his first season in Serie A. With Juventus supposedly also on the prowl, his price tag could quickly rise out of ‘bargain’ and into ‘star’ money, price tags that the fiscally disciplined Dortmund loathe to pay. Still, this is a very good young player and he would make a lot of sense for the club.
So far the only defender on this list, this 17-year-old is a very highly thought of centre back for Paris-Saint Germain B who will supposedly (according to reports) be signing with Dortmund on a free transfer this summer. Already reaching 6ft 3in tall and strong for his age, Axel-Zagadou has a chance, despite his youth, to come in and compete for a spot in Dortmund’s porous backline almost immediately. His alleged imminent signing does also signal the intent of the club hierarchy to continue to seek out the value purchases of younger, unproven players. This makes finding the right manager to take the club forward that much more important.
That’s all for this week folks! Once the new manager is in place the player rumours will start coming in thick and fast, so don’t miss my weekly update, plus any major breaking stories throughout the week!