It's time to acknowledge the fact that the best player from last season, and the third big star this offseason, will leave BVB. The announcement is imminent which means that sadly our time with the Chess-Master will come to an end.
However this is not the time to fall into a deep depression but rather a time to come up with a plan what to do with all that cash. Will Watzke, Zorc and Tuchel all get Rolls-Royce's? Will the club-members get to enjoy a 5-course meal during the next general meeting? Or will we buy the entire national team of Iceland? Probably none of those, but we will buy a replacement, which means we can start anew with everyone's favorite pastime, transfer-speculation!
So without further ado, let's take a look at some possible replacements for our "10".
The frontrunner right now seems to be Schürrle from VFL Wolfsburg. The 25-year old played in 41 games last season across all competitions, scoring 12 goals and accounting for 7 assists, those numbers might not be eye-popping but they are solid considering he played in a Wolfsburg team that had its fair share of problems last year.
At first look Schürrle seems to be an odd choice as a Mkhitaryan successor. He is not a pure "10" like the Armenian was (even if he started on the right side of the pitch). Schürrle has his strengths as a winger, who stays on the outskirts of the pitch and looks for favorable match-ups in one-on-one situations where he can use his quick first step and his technical abilities to get behind opposing backlines. In addition Schürrle prefers to play on the left which would mean he would have to compete with our designated new captain Marco Reus for the starting position or one of them would have to move to the right side of the pitch.
What speaks for Schürrle is his connection to Thomas Tuchel. Both of them already worked together in Mainz, where Tuchel was a youth coach and took the young player with him when he was appointed as the first team coach, essentially jump-starting Schürrle's career.
Klaus Allofs, the general manager of Wolfsburg has repeatedly stated that Schürrle is not for sale but the general belief is that the player who is currently playing for Germany at the Euros will be available for the right amount of money. However the question is if Dortmund are willing to pay the rumored asking price of €32 million which is what Wolfsburg paid for him one and a half years ago.
Karim Bellarabi is another Bundesliga-player who is linked with a move to the black and yellows. The 26-year old, who is under contract at Bayer Leverkusen, scored 12 goals and had 14 assists in 49 appearances last season. He was one of the best players for the "Werkself" and contributed to their third-place finish in the league.
Bellarabi's playing style is quite similar to Schürrle's, he's extremely fast and likes to use his dribbling-skills to get past opponents in one-on-one situations. His skillset fit perfectly into Roger Schmidt's transition-based system that often provided enough space for Bellarabi to use his pace to create chances, either for himself or for his teammates. It is anyone's guess how he would fare in a more possession-based system that is currently in use in Dortmund.
A €25 million offer has already been refused by Leverkusen and even though there are reports that claim that the winger is interested in a move to the Westfalenstadion, Bayer's GM Rudi Völler has already said that Bellarabi will play for Leverkusen next season. Seeing how Völler is not a particularly big fan of BVB and how there is no pressure to sell for them (Bellarabi has a contract until 2020 although with a rumored release clause for next year) this seems like an unlikely option.
The prodigal son returns? For a lot of BVB-fans Mario Götze is still a "persona non grata", which is understandable considering the circumstances of his departure three years ago. Since then, Götze's stock has taken a serious hit and a player that was once on his way of becoming a superstar, is now on a downturn.
The Bavarians mostly relinquished Götze's services last year. Guardiola preferred to use other players, while Götze was nothing more than a rotational player. In his 21 appearances he scored 6 goals and had 4 assists, coming of the bench in most of those games.
Still only 24 years of age, he can still be considered a young talent that can develop. However consistent injuries and multiple reports of attitude problems have tainted his prospects. He seems to have lost his quick first step and general pace, possibly due to the fact that he has seemed out of shape during the last season. Nevertheless the young German is still one of most technically skilled players of the Bundesliga.
Bayern Munich have made it pretty clear that they would be willing to listen to offers. Götze has just one year left on his contract and the Bavarians are reluctant to offer him an extension, this might be their last opportunity to minimize their losses on the player they paid the hefty sum of €36 million. Reports of the possible asking price range from €20-25 million, which could be a steal for a player of his potential provided he reaches his old level again.
The question remains if Götze would be willing to come back or if there is just too much bad blood between him and the fans.
The best of the rest
The only other players that are connected with a move to BVB are Marko Pjaca and Andriy Yarmolenko and while those rumours come from mostly unreliable sources they still remain a possibility.
Pjaca would be another young prospect at 21-years and would cement the fact that BVB are in a rebuilding phase. The young Croatian from Dinamo Zagreb is certainly talented but it would be a risk to replace the best player of last season with someone that has never played outside of the Croation league. Furthermore Pjaca is more comfortable as a left winger which would force Tuchel to move Reus to the left side. The winger is available but a lot of different clubs are rumoured to be interested which would make a transfer a costly undertaking.
Yarmolenko has spent his entire professional career in the Ukraine playing for Dynamo Kiev but has hinted at a possible move this summer. It is known that Zorc made an offer for him last offseason and it is believed that Thomas Tuchel is a big fan of his. Dortmund tried to secure his services again in the winter transfer-period just to come up short once again. Since then the interest in the 26-year old offensive midfielder has seemingly waned, at this moment there are no indications that the black and yellows will try for a third time to get him.