On the onset of this article I want to set the tone, with which Dortmund is going to head into next season, something echoed by Watzke as well. At the end of 2018-19 season, everyone knew, the way Dortmund will react in the transfer market will set the tone for the coming season. And boy they have set a tone. Full credit should be given to the management team, especially Zorc, the “the man of steel” for again proving why he deserves to get a statue build of himself in Dortmund.
With transfer market not even open officially they have sent a statement that they are hungry for success. In the words of Sancho ”Next season our target is to win, not come second,” the England winger said” they have done some major additions.
26-year-old Nico Schulz became the first signing of Dortmund for 2019-20 season. Brought at €27 million for five years, Dortmund gets a player who is quick, and is coming on the back of a good season. Schulz in total had 6 assists under him which brought him in the top three chance creators of the league. Schulz is a pacey left full wing back, something Dortmund were missing for a large part of the previous season. With the style Dortmund plays they heavily depend on their wing backs to provide good crosses, something Schulz excels in. With this Dortmund to an extend has solved the problem of a player who will be useful to create effective attacks from the wings, and can send in good deliveries. One problem Favre will face with Schulz will be his position in the team. Like Raphaël he is good in attack but would not seal the leak in defense which is still required for Dortmund. If he is played as LM he will be a threat for Guerreiro. It is highly unlikely that he will play at LM position but he may not as dynamic as Guerreiro but he is an effective player who can be useful in the quick counters Dortmund loves to do.
Hazard with a T
This was a deal which was already announced by the player before the club announced. Only the price was required to be negotiated, and when that was done Dortmund got the 26-year-old Belgian on a five-year deal. Hazard is coming at the back of the best season of his career, where he scored 10 goals and assisted 11 times. This made him one of the few players who had both scored and assisted in double digit, the other player on this list is Jadon Sancho. Dortmund now have both of them. Hazard has a lot to look forward to, he will get a chance to play with his Belgian team mate Axel Witsel along with his former coach in Gladbach Lucien Favre. Like Pulisic he is good one on one, he had 65.7% dribbling completion rate and was instrumental in the initial run Gladbach had. He can also switch the wings and can play on the right side. He will complement Sancho nicely and with 182 games under his belt with Mönchengladbach he also brings an experience in the mid field.
Sancho to Reus, Reus to Brandt and he scores!
No player in recent time has created as much buzz as Julian Brandt did. Brandt for merely € 25 million which was his release clause has confirmed why there should be a statue made for Zorc. I can say confidently that this is clearly the best signing in Europe in terms of value for money. With 24 appearances for the German National team and 165 games played in the Bundesliga, Julian Brandt could easily be the next big thing for Dortmund. Brandt is a very versatile player, he can play as a winger, and can also play in the attacking midfield position. At the age of 23 he has 34 goals and 40 assists, even in the season of 2018-2019 he had 10 assists. He brings a lot of creativity to the team, and strengthens the midfield. In distance future he can easily be a successor of Reus. For a long time, Favre was looking for a player who can be a complete number 10 or number 9. Julian Brandt can play both of them hands down. The biggest fear for me is Favre putting him in the wings, it would be a big loss for the team and for him. Yes, defensively he isn’t effective but he can be used as a link with Reus, with the CDMs and the strikers. He can also reduce the pressure Reus gets in when playing in centre. The only backdrop is that he cannot be benched frequently, he has been a regular starter for his previous club. He brings creativity which was missing last season to score against a team which sits back against Dortmund. There could be a lot of movement in the mid field, it would be very important to see where he actually plays and how Favre uses him.
Dortmund had few issues in the past season, which they have tried to resolve with these signings, but there are few issues which are yet to be resolved, and in this you can add series of departure expected, which could impact the plans of coach Favre.
With the signing of Brandt, and Hazard Dortmund now has three of the top assisters of the league, and also the only two players who have got the assists and goals in double digits in the league. Dortmund will have a lot of players to feed the ball now, and will have a crowded midfield but will there be an effective striker to finish those balls.
Dortmund has Paco, and Götze, and now Isak as well, but they will need a player who has an aerial threat and who has a physical presence in the opposition’s defense. This will depend a lot on the style Favre wants to play, if it has a build-up similar to the style Dortmund played in the first half of the season, then Paco, and Götze are enough but with number of players on the wings, one player who is strong and can be an aerial threat could add a new dimension to Dortmund’s play.
Attack wins you games but defense wins you championships
In past few seasons,Dortmund has been falling in a trap which they have set themselves. To showcase the style of Dortmund, the club has been signing a lot of playmakers, and the players who have flair but their work is cut out when it comes to defense. Burki said about the season “I don’t think we are defending at the moment with all our might. It’s always the same situations, crosses, corners or free-kicks, where we are just not ready to knock the ball away”. Burki has been left alone a lot of times when it came to defending the set pieces last season. That cost Dortmund their game against Spurs, and also a heavy defeat against Bayern. Either Dortmund is going with a complete faith and on a model of trusting the young defenders, something which has been rewarding them in past when Mats, and Subotić played under Klopp. For sure Dortmund need a strong mentality when it comes to defending especially in big games. They did highlight that in the game against Atlético Madrid, but it has to be consistent. This is the very reason Favre is persuading Weigl to stay at Dortmund, his proven defensive record especially from the last season can really be an important factor for Dortmund. If Weigl leaves, Dortmund should try and find a player who is experienced and defensive minded.
Dortmund have hinted that they are still looking for a striker and a midfielder, with the evident transfer of Raphael, and the players who have come in, Dortmund need to focus on bringing another full back. There is a strong chance Schmelzer will not play for Dortmund again, which is a sad thing but that will also leave Dortmund with three full backs including Schulz for a season. Do not think Toljan will get a chance under Favre now, and Dortmund cannot depend on Piszczek, and we all know how bad it got when Hakimi was also injured. Dortmund cannot afford to let their CB play a role of FB.
A lot of movement has already happened in the market for Dortmund, still few players are expected to come in and few are evident to leave. These coming months up to the beginning of the next season are going to be exciting. Let’s hope Dortmund fulfill all their ambitions and check the boxes required to make them a contender and a champion team.