Dortmund have at least two exciting young prospects who will be joining the side this summer: Spanish midfielder Mikel Merino and French forward Ousmane Dembele. Both turned in strong seasons for their respective squads and bring lots of potential with them.
19-year-old Spanish midfielder Mikel Merino is the first of the midseason recruits, signing for Dortmund in the midst of a breakout season for CD Osasuna of Spain's Secunda Division. The youngster cited Thomas Tuchel and the quality of the club as his reasoning in making the step up to the Bundesliga.
"I feel honored that I’ll soon be able to play for Dortmund, a club that has a special way of playing football," Merino after signing.
Merino’s season started with an impressive performance in the European U-19 Championships last June. He featured as a starter in every match for tournament winner Spain and showed the field, vision and passing which caught Tuchel’s eye.
Merino tallied an impressive season for his club in the Secunda Division, making 33 appearances and netting 2 goals. He saved perhaps his best performance of the season for last, punishing the opposition with 2 goals in Osasuna’s 3-2 win over CD Numancia Sunday.
While Osasuna fell shy of automatic promotion back to La Liga, the side’s fourth place finish ensured them a spot in the playoff. They will take on Gimnastic de Tarragona Wednesday, meaning that Merino still has another chance to give Dortmund fans a taste of what he can bring to the club next season.
When it was rumored that big fish like Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Arsenal were circling for the chance to sign 19-year-old French phenom Ousmane Dembele, it seemed unlikely that a club like Dortmund stood much of a chance.
But it was Dortmund who walked away with Dembele’s coveted signature, beating the big boys to the Stade Rennais prospect who burst on to the scene this season.
While Dembele can play either as an central attacker or a winger, he most commonly featured on the right flank for Rennes, using his blistering speed to torch Ligue 1 defenders. While the quality week in and week out is not as high in France as in Germany or England, Dembele was still superlative. The teenager led the side in goals, bagging 12, and chipped in 5 assists in 29 total appearances this season.
But one only has to watch Dembele’s video highlights to understand why he was so sought after by every major club in Europe. Adept with both feet, a rarity for such a young player, his pace and technical ability is a joy to watch. Most notable in his many quality appearances was a hat trick in Rennes’ 4-1 win over Nantes in March and an impressive goal and assist in a 5-2 away loss at Marseille.
Dembele also received his first call up to France’s U-21 side in March, meaning that he appears to be a key cog in the future for both his club and country. In Dembele Dortmund are getting a skilled playmaker and goalscorer who need only refine some of his raw skills to become a world class offensive threat.