The first half of the 2016-17 Bundesliga season did not go as planned for Borussia Dortmund. Injury problems lingered while defensive issues were far too common. At times, the offense even lacked a spark Dortmund supporters have become accustomed to seeing.
But enough about the past. It’s onto 2017 and the final 18 matches in an extremely winnable and still wide-open Bundesliga. Sitting in sixth place with 27 points - only three points out of third and 12 out of first - Dortmund still has plenty of time and hope to mount a climb up the table.
How can they do this? Well, the January transfer window, as everyone knows, is a time meant to help clubs bolster their squad depth and add necessary pieces for a run at a title.
Last season, Dortmund didn’t really make a big splash in the January window. BVB lost youngster Jonas Hofmann in a deal with Borussia Monchengladbach before finalizing a deal for Mikel Merino to move from Osasuna at the end of the season.
Besides the ample disappointment, rumors swirled that Dortmund were in for some big names. Oliver Torres, now of Porto FC, was widely linked with a move to Dortmund and it was even reported he had agreed to terms. But the former Atletico midfielder never signed and went to the Portuguese giants in the summer window on loan.
This season, Dortmund will be looking much more seriously about adding players. The primary need for BVB to fill this January is on defense. The Dortmund backline has been bare as of late due to injuries and, frankly, just not enough depth. While Felix Passlack and Merino can fill in from time-to-time, the two are normally midfielders and not equipped to fully handle the onslaught of many Bundesliga offenses.
So who’s available and who’s already been linked?
Well, it’s starting to become glaringly obvious that Omer Toprak will be joining Dortmund over the summer so problem solved...for next season. Right now, Dortmund needs to add some serious depth.
One name that’s been tossed around the rumor mill is Kevin Wimmer from Tottenham Hotspur. The Austrian has Bundesliga experience after playing with FC Koln from 2012-2015. Wimmer is currently the fourth-choice center back for Tottenham and Dortmund are looking to add him for some defensive depth.
It is also being reported that VfL Wolfsburg are looking to swoop in a deal for Wimmer but could likely lose out to Dortmund. Reports out of England suggest that a deal could likely take place in the summer, though Dortmund are looking for added depth now.
Two other minor names being linked with Dortmund include Milan Skriniar from Sampdoria and Ronald Matarrita from New York City FC. Skriniar has been capped seven times by Slovakia and plays a similar style of internal defense to Matthias Ginter. Dortmund, along with Bayern, Schalke, and Eintracht Frankfurt are all looking to add the Sampdoria wonderkid, though a move would seem unlikely for Skriniar.
As for Matarrita, he impressed last season in MLS, helping NYCFC to its first-ever playoff berth. The Costa Rica international is a similar player to Raphael Guerreiro, garnering the ability to play left defense and left midfield. Left back is the only defensive position in which Dortmund has considerable and formidable depth.
If Dortmund is to sign Matarrita, it might spell the end of the Park Joo-ho saga at the Wesfalenstadion. The little-used left back is being linked with a move to Inter Milan on loan for the remainder of the season with the option to sign permanently at the conclusion of the 2016-17 campaign. Fiorentina has also expressed interest in the South Korea international and it appears Dortmund are willing to open negotiations.
Finally, it is becoming imperative for Dortmund to keep and utilize Neven Subotic at central defense. The Serbian has missed nearly a year of action due to injury and is finally getting back into fitness. His return could spark a resurgence in the Dortmund defense and his services would be greatly needed.
However, Monchengladbach are looking to sign the 28-year old Subotic and have also expressed a vast interest in Nuri Sahin. At the moment, Dortmund could afford to dispense of Sahin as there are plenty of options at defensive midfield. As for Subotic, keeping him and playing him in cup ties could allow the defense to remain fresh.