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A Window into Woodward’s Soul: Grading BVB’s Transfer Business

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How did Watzke and Zorc do this summer?

Borussia Dortmund v Sport-Club Freiburg -Bundesliga Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The transfer window has closed with Ed Woodward’s fingers on BVB’s ledge. Poor sod. After a summer spent trying to work out what is going on in one of the weirder transfer sagas in recent memory, we can finally breath a sigh of relief and look forward to at least half a season (and most likely a full season) more of Jadon Sancho in a Borussia Dortmund kit.

But keeping Sancho isn’t the only move that Dortmund made this summer. They also brought in another talented Englishman in Jude Bellingham, added experience in Thomas Meunier, and lost one of the fastest and most dangerous wingbacks in the world in Achraf Hakimi.

So how did BVB do in this transfer window? Steve and I (welcome Steve to the team by the way) have graded Dortmund’s summer transfer dealings to help answer that question. We won’t cover every single move, but we’ll focus on the headlines. Enjoy!

Incoming

Jude Bellingham

Paul: A

There were some eyebrows raised over the fee, by those less familiar with Bellingham, but it took less than a week into the new season for Bellingham to show everyone why BVB weren’t overspending on this kid. By the end of the season, €23m will look like an absolute steal for an England international.

FC Augsburg - Borussia Dortmund
Some lovely business
Photo by Matthias Balk/picture alliance via Getty Images

Steve: A

I am very excited for Bellingham. It’s amazing that he’s already in the starting rotation at central midfield. The sky is the limit on this one.

Thomas Meunier

Paul: B

Meunier came on a free transfer, limiting the costs of a move, but he has struggled in his first few games. I’m hedging my bets a bit by going for a B, because I believe that Meunier will improve, and he will ultimately be a solid, experienced player that can help the talented kids that play his position (Passlack and Morey).

Steve: C

Just a passing grade. It’s a free transfer, and the financial commitment is probably not going to be burdensome. But, he is replacing Hakimi, whose ultimate transfer price to Inter was really very reasonable. While Meunier hasn’t appeared to be tuned in to the quick passing and movement style of Dortmund, Hakimi is already making waves in Serie A. It will be interesting to see if Passlack and/or Morey can overtake Meunier this year.

Reinier

Paul: C

I don’t think we’ve really seen enough from Reinier to say a great deal about this move, but I think it’s decent business that provides some useful depth in the offense. He’ll have to show a little more to actually become a valuable part of the rotation though.

Steve: Incomplete

I could go either way on Reinier. It could be a waste of time or a brilliant move. Right now, it seems like we have more attackers than we need if we are going to continue in the 3-4-3, even against minnows.

Outgoing

Achraf Hakimi

Paul: D

Look, Hakimi wasn’t perfect. He was prone to defensive lapses, and so many poor defensive moments last season came because he was daydreaming. He wasn’t going to come cheap either. But Hakimi was one of our best players last season, and he provided so much value in ball progression, speed, and offensive creativity. Losing him hurts, and it hurts even more when you see that he didn’t cost Inter an astronomical fee.

Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga
Goodbye sweet prince
Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images

Steve: F

My understanding is that we signed Meunier back in January/February. I don’t know what Real was asking for Hakimi at that time, or if Hakimi was open to signing with Dortmund. But missing out on Hakimi at that price was a mistake.

Leonardo Balerdi

Paul: C

I’ve not seen enough from Balerdi to suggest he’s actually good enough for BVB, but we are a little lacking in defensive depth, so letting him go without anyone else coming in seems a little questionable.

Steve: B

I’m just grading the loan move here, not the original purchase. Balerdi didn’t get better sitting on the bench at Dortmund, and needs to play. He’s already gotten a couple games in France. I do think we should have brought in a replacement.

Mario Gotze

Paul: B

Seeing Gotze leave was sad, for me, because I liked him, and I thought he offered something. But his contract was far too expensive, so this was the right move.

Steve: B

Last season seemed like a waste for Gotze and for Dortmund, and now the Covid crisis seems to be making it difficult for him to find a new club. I hope he lands on his feet.

Staying Put

Jadon Sancho

Paul: A+++

Is there any way that BVB could have handled this better? While Dortmund seem to have been helped by Ed Woodward simultaneously filling his whole nappy and vomiting on his fresh new suit, they did everything they could to make Sancho an attractive offer to stay with the club and make him fee l comfortable about his future.

Guys like Bellingham and Meunier can contribute right now, but neither changes this team like Sancho does. At this point, Jadon is surely the best player in this team, and keeping him gives us the realistic hope of challenging Bayern.

Steve: Hahahahahahahah!

Every day, twitter jerks posting that Sancho was about to move, and then as soon as the window closed, a half dozen well-sourced articles came out saying it was never close. Giving Sancho a raise and a secret extension appears to have been vital, and pure genius. That raised the total cost to United to lure him, and lowered Sancho’s incentive to force a move.

Roman Burki

Paul: D

Burki’s circumstances weren’t like Sancho’s, as there was never really any suggestion that another club was coming in for him, but Burki extended his contract with the club and ensured his future here for the next few years.

Taken in isolation, I think a C is warranted, as I don’t mind renewing Burki’s commitment to Dortmund, but the problem is that this seems to signal BVB’s commitment to Burki as a starter, and that’s where I have my doubts, and why I ended up giving this move a D. Burki is good, but he’s not great, and I think this team would be significantly improved by putting an elite goalkeeper in Burki’s place.

Steve: C

I have nothing against Burki, but I think we could improve at this position. Dortmund has been very reluctant to spend money on defense, and I think that limits our ability to challenge for silverware. I’ll again mention here that I think we should have brought in a new center back too.

Overall

Paul: B+

We played a perfect game in a couple of our moves, and the good news is that those moves were the most important. Sancho and Bellingham are really great for this team. But the lack of defensive depth, and the loss of Hakimi, hurts.

It wasn’t the perfect summer, but it was pretty good, and I think we can just about conclude that the team is better than it was, and DEFINITELY better than it would have been without Sancho.

Steve: A

Borussia Dortmund v Borussia Moenchengladbach - Bundesliga
We kept Sancho!
Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund/Getty Images