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Gonzalo Castro: Dortmund’s Most Valuable (Depth) Player

1860 Muenchen v Borussia Dortmund  - Friendly Match Photo by Johannes Simon/Bongarts/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund fans were both excited and puzzled over the re-acquisition of Mario Gotze from Bayern Munich. The excitement was built upon the skill and versatility Gotze possesses. What puzzled fans was the issue of who would be playing where.

After Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel experimented tactically against Manchester United, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will be playing where this season. Especially with Gotze and Schurrle thrown into the mix, players like Gonzalo Castro may be at a loss for minutes.

Castro’s first season at Dortmund last year might have only just met expectations. However, following a solid preseason, Castro looks to be stating his case as a first choice midfielder.

Castro scored a stunner in the preseason opener against Erkenschwick along with two goals against Manchester United. His playing style in preseason shows he has a chip on his shoulder and a willingness to contribute to the squad.

Manchester United v Borussia Dortmund - 2016 International Champions Cup China Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

A little competition for a starting job can often be beneficial to any player involved. In Gonzalo Castro’s case, competing with Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle for a starting role might be the necessary jump-start Castro needed.

The German midfielder has already shown his ability to shoot from distance on two separate occasions this preseason. But his ability to win tackles and challenges in close quarters is what makes Castro valuable.

Towards the end of last season, Castro showed began to show his ability as a two-way player. Although Mario Gotze is a clinical player on offense, he is strictly an attack-minded player, unlike Castro. But alas, Gotze will be hard to dethrone and it seems as if Castro will be “demoted” to a depth role.

But fear not! With the 2016-17 season set to include various matches in the Champions League, DFB-Pokal, and Bundesliga, the fixture list will be packed and depth will be a key for the squad.

While Gonzalo Castro might not beat out Gotze for the starting job in central midfield, the depth role that he’ll fill could be enough to lift him to prominence. Castro will definitely be useful in Champions League matches against some of Europe’s best teams and in Pokal matches against European opponents.

Having a backup as talented as Castro will be extremely important to Dortmund’s success this upcoming season. He can eat up minutes in lesser competitions and serve as an impact substitute in league matches.

1860 Muenchen v Borussia Dortmund  - Friendly Match Photo by Johannes Simon/Bongarts/Getty Images

Offensively, Castro is not just useful for his distance shooting, but his distribution as well. During the 2015/16 season, Castro garnered an 82% passing accuracy as well as 28 chances created; good for fifth on the team. His three goals in preseason matched his total for all of last season.

On defense, Castro won 47% of his aerial duels and made zero defensive errors over the course of the season. He also remained disciplined, picking up only one yellow card. As a two-way player, Castro effectively stretches play in the midfield.

If his preseason performance is a preview of how he will perform this season, then Gonzalo Castro will become one of Dortmund’s most valuable assets for what looks to be a busy season.