Mats Hummels is definitely the most controversial signing BVB have ever had. Everyone seems t have a take on what this means for BVB. So I asked the FTW writers room “what’s your take on BVB signing Mats Hummels”.
Brett R. Bobysud
That was my reaction when the news of the pending return of Hummels broke last Friday.
Of the three players who’d left BVB to be assimilated by the Borg in the last 6 years, he was the one I never wanted to see return. The manner in which he departed was not good; he was the club Captain, he was the one who’d criticized previous moves to Munich by Dortmund players, and yet he was the only one to hit the club personally on his way out. His track record with domestic managers over recent years, both in Dortmund and in Munich, is not great either. Who’s to say that his relationship with Favre won’t also turn sour and affect the rest of the locker room?
That being said, with Piszczek on his last legs, Schmelzer a non-factor, and Toprak likely on his way out, there was a need for a veteran presence in the Dortmund defense who could potentially stabilize an otherwise young group. And of all the veteran defenders who had been linked to Dortmund this window, practically none have Hummels’s track record of success and availability over the past decade, and none whatsoever have known success in the Westfalenstadion like he has.
The snake moniker was well deserved and it will take a lot of work on his and the club’s behalf to get a significant chunk of the fanbase to support him again. However, Hummels and the club hopefully realize this and will acknowledge the need to work hard to mend the relationship between player and fans.
If he is the veteran defensive presence Dortmund need, and if he doesn’t undermine another manager, or act like a pissant in the locker room, and if he ultimately helps Dortmund finally rip the Bundesliga title out of Bayern’s hands, then this move will ultimately be worth it.
But I’m still gonna jeer the hell out of him in the Supercup.
I completely sympathize with the fans that are angry about this. Hummels didn’t cover himself in glory when he left the club. Personally, I am fine with any player leaving for what they see as an opportunity to further their career and to benefit their personal life. These are human beings with material and personal concerns beyond football, and that is something we sometimes forget or downplay. Nonetheless, he didn’t handle the circumstances of his departure well, and it’s no surprise that there are plenty that hold that against him.
Ultimately, I think the most important question to ask is “Does the addition of Hummels improve the team?” and I’d say the answer is a definite yes. We have four center backs with a ton of potential, but only one of them is currently close to world class (Akanji). I think Zagadou (and maybe Balerdi) probably has the highest ceiling, but he’s a kid, and he needs nurturing. In the meantime, Hummels injects quality and experience into a backline that desperately needs it. If he’d been playing for Dortmund last year, does anyone believe we’d have made so many errors and thrown away so many points in the latter stages of the season? I don’t think so.
We watched Dortmund fall just short of a title last season, and slip up in the latter stages of the Champions League and the Pokal, and it seemed as though a lot of that was due to inexperience, injuries, and fatigue. So far this summer, with the additions of Schulz, Brandt, Hazard, and now Hummels, we’ve added much needed depth, quality, and experience. This team has a real shot at winning silverware next season.
I’ll be the first to admit that Hummels’s transfer to Bayern Munich in 2016 felt like a slap in the face. Yes, he’d been a product of the Bayern academy, but he also had been BVB’s captain, and had regularly derided players like Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski for transferring to Bayern. When he announced that he wanted to move to Bayern because he wanted to face “his next challenge”, it felt incredibly hollow. So, I understand why anybody would be angry at the idea of him coming back to Dortmund.
Now, let’s put all that aside and look at it purely from a footballing perspective. Hummels is 30 years old (31 in December), so he’s clearly towards the back end of his career. He’s lost a step in terms of pace, but outside of that he’s still mostly the same elite defender that we remember from 2015-16. His defensive numbers from last season still put him among the best in the Bundesliga. For a BVB team that struggled at the back end much of last season, his addition will be a pleasant relief.
From an objective point of view, the only problem I have with the transfer is the fee. €30-38 million is a significant fee for a defender who’s past his prime. Hummels’s salary will also be enormous. If Hummels comes to BVB and disappoints, it could be very hard to get his weekly wages off the books.
In summary, while I’m still a little angry with Hummels about how he left the club, he will make BVB better for the immediate future. While I think the transfer fee is a bit high, it may be necessary to help BVB acquire the talent they need to finally win a Bundesliga trophy.
Mats Hummels used to be one of my favorite players on the team. Him going to our rivals after building his brand as “the one who stayed” rubbed me the wrong way. But what rubs me even worse is that Bayern have been kicking the crap out of us for almost a decade.
BVB need to be ruthless in their transfer approach if we are to compete with Bayern, at the very least just as ruthless as Bayern is. This window Zorc has been doing just that. We’ve bought top 3 players from league rivals Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Hoffenheim. Now WE are the ones taking advantage of a player who wants to leave his club for a competitive rival. Mats Hummels doesn’t win us the league. He isn’t some godlike CB who will fix our backline issues. But he is a signal of the Dortmund Zorc and Watzke started to build last summer. A Dortmund that doesn’t back down and doesn’t play nice. You don’t have to like Mats Hummels, but this iteration of the Dortmund front office has been stellar. Let’s believe in them.
“Attack wins games, defense wins championships”
Sir Alex Ferguson quoted his philosophy on winning championships, something Dortmund has implemented in their aim to win the title next season. Rarely its seen that Bayern sells a player who is a regular starter to its rival club. From fans stand point It is natural to get a backlash for the way he left and that to a rival club. Although I must say Dortmund has smartly handled this transfer respecting the emotions of the fans.
History repeats itself?
If Dortmund plans to win titles then why not use the player who has won it with them in the past. Among all the transfers done in this window by Dortmund on a sporting level, I think this could be the signing of the summer. Taking a holistic view of this transfer. For €38m Dortmund has now got a defender who is one of the best in Bundesliga, who knows the culture of Dortmund, and most importantly is a leader who knows how to win tittles and has already won it with Dortmund. Position wise Hummels plays on the left of central defense, naturally would be paired with Akanji. They both can complement each other with their strengths. Akanji’s pace will cover Hummels and Hummels experience and his positional play will guide Akanji. Hummels position would benefit Schulz who is new to the team and Hakimi who will play on the left. Hummels will fit Favre’s style of playing from the back as well. Whenever required Favre can also play with three defenders at back as well. Hummels is good in air as well and can also cover for the weakness Dortmund had when it came to defending spot kicks and corners. Hummels will not only guide these young and talented defenders but will also strengthen the bench. This transfer puts Dortmund in a rare position where they have a stronger team compare to Bayern to challenge for the tittle next season.
The transfer will impact few individuals as well. Leonardo Balerdi will have his work cut out and would have to work to convince Favre to consider him in his plan. Diallo and Zagadou would have to be patient. The ambition with which Dortmund is going into the next season, both the players will get their chances to prove themselves. Hummels is 30-year-old and would not be able to play a complete season with the same intensity he could three years back. The situation with Weigl will be interesting to see. He will get back his role of CDM, but how Favre will use him would be something to keenly lookout at.
”It was also a courageous sporting decision for Mats, which shows what kind of character he has.” Zorc sums the transfer nicely. Had he not played for Dortmund before, I think Hummels would not have agreed to take a wage cut and would not have left a champion team to fight for the title with Dortmund. I would like to think that his decision was influenced by the affection he has for the club. Baring a performance in the first Klassiker Hummels was very impressive last season and was instrumental in the DFB Pokal final. Although I do feel for him cause not only he would face temporary backlash from the fans but would also face Sancho and Brandt in the training ground on daily basis as well. Both the situations he would love to win over and celebrate being a champion next season at Borsigplatz square.