Reflecting on Mats Hummels' season feels like closing a chapter in Dortmund's history. As much as any other player, he represented BVB's rise from the ashes of near bankruptcy and relegation. Unfortunately, our former captain has finally signed his official contract for Bayern.
I was seriously hoping for a DeAndre Jordan-Clippers scenario where Mats would realize home is where the heart is. Not to mention, even the staunchest Bayern fan would appreciate Henrikh "The Chess Master" Mkhitaryan's home barricading strategy.
Just spotted Henrikh Mkhitaryan at my local chess club, he was playin chess on a chess board with chess pieces #Legit pic.twitter.com/2Ri6Vh5qpx— Ricky Mann (@RickyMann4) June 26, 2013
That looks like a man who knows how to defend a captain. I'd put money on him doing more than Blake Griffin, sticking a chair under the door knob. Let's not forget about Batman and Robin perched on the roof.
Dreams aside, most BVB fans will react in one of three ways:
1. You could be the rage filled, red in the face, shirt burning fan.
"Dortmund Fans Burn Hummels Bayern Shirt in Berlin" via @TeamStream https://t.co/8TrcFNBpcl— BobRieger (@BfRieger) May 21, 2016
2. You could be crying yourself to sleep every night after a day of eating ice cream alone.
3. You could be a bit nostalgic for the trophies Mats won in a black and yellow shirt and eventually realize that BVB will see better days.
The angry fan and the sad fan will see nothing but negatives or nothing but positives with Hummels' latest season. However, as expected, the former captain played a large part in Dortmund's successes and failures this season.
That inch perfect, outside of the boot cross says everything about Hummels' skill moving forward and creating chances. His crisp passing and tendency to make forward runs fit perfectly into Tuchel's system which placed a heavy emphasis on possession and playing out of the back. In fact, Squawka rated him BVB's best player this season. Particularly in the ruckrunde, Mats led a backline that conceded only 10 goals in the Bundesliga. Offensively, Hummels scored 3 goals and created 4 more across all competitions as a central defender.
For a captain though, the former Dortmund man went missing at times during big games. The 5-1 pummeling at the hands of Bayern really stands out in Hummels' inconsistent hinrunde. He was twice caught too far up field on long balls by Boateng. It is occasionally a trend for Mats, who is not the quickest or most agile player, to be beat over the top when he presses high for interceptions. In Munich, he was also beaten on the wing by Gotze which led to a goal. Even during the second half of the season Hummels was terrible in the second half against Liverpool and wasn't even on the field for much of the DFB Pokal Final. Really, Hummels just hasn't replicated the consistent out of this world play he displayed at the 2014 World Cup.
Undoubtedly, Hummels is a world class player and one of the best center backs in soccer. But Zorc, Watzke, and the Dortmund brass have shown time and again that they're adept at replacing top talent. Further, the academy and Tuchel have shown an uncanny ability to develop players to fill roles. Just look around the current squad. Aubameyang is a world class striker to replace Lewandowski. Mkhitaryan is arguably better than Gotze ever was. Don't forget, this is the club that sold 3 stars (Kagawa, Perisic, & Barrios) from their 2011-2012 league winning campaign, only to reach the Champions League final in next season's encore.
If nothing else, BVB fans can take solace in that there's no guarantee the Hummels experiment works in Bavaria. Perhaps the future even looks like this:
Dortmund are winners of consecutive trebles having returned stronger than ever. Ginter is a revelation in the middle fulfilling the potential he showed at Freiberg. Mkhitaryan extends long term and contends for the Ballon d'Or every year. Pulisic and Passlack develop into the next Messi and Ronaldo respectively. Meanwhile in Munich, two ball playing, offensive minded center backs are paired disastrously with the sweeper keeper. No one stays home for the searing runs of Auba and Reus. Dortmund smash Bayern by double digit margins every game.
Maybe that's just my imagination running wild, but we're BVB fans: we shoot for the stars.