Well, the first half of the Bundesliga season has come to end. Fortunately for many teams like Dortmund looking to make a late season title push, the January window offers the opportunity to address squad needs.
An up-and-down first half for Dortmund has left much room for improvement. What should Dortmund look for during the January window. There’s certainly a need for some improvement defensively, but also at keeper and striker.
Improving the defense
Battered by injury, the Dortmund defense is in major need of a tuneup after spiraling throughout the first half of the season. Right now, the best solution for Dortmund is to add some reinforcements.
One current target is 22-year-old Manuel Akanji from FC Basel. The link comes across as interesting as Akanji has yet to face strike forces as good as the ones in the Bundesliga. It’s not exactly the help Dortmund needs now, but the move might be good for the future.
Akanji is a promising center-back prospect who has drawn comparisons to the likes of Matt Miazga and Jason Denayer. The move might could allow Akanji to partner up with other young Dortmund defenders like Jeremy Toljan, Dan-Axel Zagadou, and currently on-loan Felix Passlack.
Aside from Akanji, Dortmund should look for an inexpensive defender who can help Dortmund in the short term.
This has been a problem for some time now and has still yet to be addressed. Sure, Dortmund added some talent on the wings, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains the only true striker. And sure, Alex Isak and Max Philipp can assume the striker role, but Isak is too young and Philipp is more of a playmaker.
A cheap option would be Cedric Teuchert from FC Nuremberg. In 15 games, Teuchert has six goals and two assists. His play, though limited, has attracted the attention of FC Schalke and VfL Wolfsburg.
Admir Mehmedi also provides a solid temporary option to bolster Dortmund’s scoring attack. The Bayer Leverkusen forward can play all three positions across the top, but his true position is striker. Mehmedi is experiencing a down year, but he has proven he can produce at the top level throughout his career.
In all likelihood, Dortmund will wait to assess the striker situation until summer. With Aubameyang recently signing a contract extension, there’s not too much urgency to establish an heir-apparent at striker. Unless Dortmund makes a small move, Aubameyang and Isak will remain the two main stikers on the roster.
Between the sticks
Although Roman Burki has been flashy this season, he doesn’t appear to be a title-contending goalkeeper. His play can be streaky and inconsistent at times as well.
Roman Weidenfeller remains the backup to Burki, but his career appears to be winding down. On his second one-year deal, Weidenfeller has aged fast and is on the way out. Dortmund have begun looking for a new goalkeeper, but the search has not been fruitful.
Dortmund actually has an extremely talented youth base at keeper, with Dominik Reimann and Jan Reckert presenting promising options in goal. But it will likely take half a decade before either of those players becomes worthy of a starting position.
Again, it might just be better for Dortmund to wait until summer before making any drastic changes in goal.
Projections for the Winter Window
Dortmund is linked to several players around Europe right now with Henrikh Mkhitaryan being one of them. The former Dortmund winger joined Manchester United two seasons ago and hasn’t prospered there as originally expected.
Although Mkhitaryan doesn’t fill an immediate need, his presence could allow more time for Marco Reus to recover and would allow Max Philipp to slot into a full-time striker or secondary striker role.
Mkhitaryan’s return could highlight the Winter transfer window for Dortmund. Expect Dortmund to make more than one acquistion, with the second possibly being a young player brought in for future development.
Heading out of town could be midfielder Andre Schurrle. After an exciting deal brought Schurrle to Dortmund, the midfielder hasn’t seen much action in his time due to injuries and falling out of favor. Dortmund will be taking a loss of money in dealing Schurrle, but clubs like West Ham and VfB Stuttgart are interested and willing to add the midfielder.