For Neven Subotic, the last year and a half has been a wild ride.
After making 192 Bundesliga appearances with Borussia Dortmund since 2008, Subotic has not lined up for BVB since Spring of 2016. On April 1, 2016, it was announced that Subotic would miss about eight months with thrombosis in his arm.
Last summer, the defender announced via Facebook that he would be departing Dortmund. One year and two loan spells later, Subotic remains a member of a Dortmund squad now desperately in need of some center-back depth.
This summer, BVB has dealt away Matthias Ginter and Sven Bender, creating a startling lack of depth on the back-line. Although Subotic was anxious to leave the club last summer, it appears as if this season may be his final chance to make an impact.
The current depth chart at center-back for Dortmund appears to have Omer Toprak and Sokratis Papastathopolous starting with Marc Bartra as first reserve. Next in line appears to be a competition between Neven Subotic and Dan-Axel Zagadou. The latter is 18-years-old and is relatively untested while Subotic is approaching 200 league appearances for BVB.
A big reason why Subotic should be part of Dortmund’s plans for this season is injuries. Though the Serbian is slightly injury-prone himself, Dortmund are already without a defender - full-back Raphael Guerreiro - for the first four months of the season. With not many desirable options and the potential for further injuries, Dortmund may be forced to go with a three-man back line, employing three CBs.
What else makes Subotic desirable? The fact that he’s 6-foot-3 might be a redeeming quality. He could be an aerial threat offensively when the defense pushes forward while he prevents lofting crosses into the box from being a true threat.
So as the door opens on the 2017/18 season, Subotic could have a relatively expanded depth role for Dortmund and could play a big part to their success in several competitions.
His work rate during preseason competitions and the role he could play in the DFL-Supercup may preview and decide how important Subotic is to the squad. But in terms of depth, Dortmund cannot afford to lose Subotic unless another option is brought in to replace him immediately. In terms of defense, experience should always take precedent over youth.
As the preseason rolls along, it will certainly be interesting to see how Subotic fits into the new system under Peter Bosz. Regardless, Dortmund needs depth on the back-line and Subotic is not a bad person to have in that position.