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Three Questions After Dortmund’s Explosive 5-2 Win Over Hertha Berlin

Ha Ho He, I’ve got questions for thee

Hertha BSC v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund returned to Bundesliga action on Saturday with a 5-2 win over Hertha Berlin. Yes, it took a while for Dortmund to get going after a below average first half, but once Haaland found the back of the net, the result should never have been in question. Thanks to draws by Bayern and Leipzig, Dortmund now sit just one point behind Bayern at the top of the table.

Hey, speaking of questions…

Can Dortmund afford Haaland’s next contract?

In January 2020, Dortmund signed Haaland to a four-year contract from RB Salzburg for a jaw-droppingly cheap release clause of €20 million. According to various websites, Haaland earns somewhere between €7-8 million annually; not bad for a teenager from Norway, a country not exactly known for producing football stars. But after laying waste to the Austrian Bundesliga and Champions League competition, Haaland looked to be worth all the fees and wages, despite being only 19 years of age.

However, we’re not even a full year into that contract and it already looks like is outperforming that annual wage. Of the 30 matches for Dortmund across all competitions, Haaland has scored 31 goals. To put it lightly, that is insane. He has regularly been one of the best players on the squad since his arrival, and he has European mega-clubs like Real Madrid and Manchester City scouting him heavily.

As much as I want to see Haaland reject these advances and become a Dortmund legend by leading them to untold domestic and European success until his retirement, I don’t see it happening. I truly believe we are all witness to the beginnings of one of the most dominant goal-scorers and most exciting players in global football. And he will get paid as such. Dortmund is a fantastic club with a rich history and one of the best match-day atmospheres in all of global sport IMO, but they don’t have the financial backing clubs like PSG, Manchester City and Liverpool can offer.

There’s also the Mino Raiola factor to deal with regarding contract negotiations. Raiola has a reputation for getting the most he can for his clients (while getting a little something for himself as well), and with Haaland playing as especially well as he is, Raiola is going to ask for the moon because, well, Haaland is worth it. I don’t see Haaland as the kind of player to act out about a new contract like Ousmane Dembele or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have, but I can still see some shenanigans happening that lead to a drawn-out saga

Whether Dortmund can negotiate their demands down or not may well be the deciding factor in the club’s ability to re-sign Haaland. If not, it could be a quick tenure for Haaland inside the Westfalenstadion.

What should we realistically expect from Yousoufa Moukoko?

In the 85th minute of Saturday’s win, Yousoufa Moukoko subbed on for Haaland to become the youngest player to make his Bundesliga debut at 16 years and 1 day old. He didn’t have much time to make his mark on a match that was already decided, but there were still flashes of skill and control that allowed him to absolutely dominate the German youth leagues. As far as debuts go, it wasn’t bad.

We’ve all seen the match highlights, we’ve all read the reviews and interviews, and we’ve all heard the ways Moukoko is going to be the next great Dortmund goal scorer.

However, what kind of expectations should we honestly have for Moukoko. If there’s anything sports fans love to do, its hype up the “Next Thing” until they don’t meet their imposed expectations and fall by the wayside as a “bust” or “disappointment” while they fawn over the next “Next Thing.” Repeat this, with the occasional player to meet or exceed expectations, ad nauseam until the eventual end of human civilization and the heat death of the universe.

Right now, my expectations for him are to play well in whatever minutes he’s given this season, maybe even a few goals scored. Not exceptional performances in every match, but good enough performances to justify the spot on the senior team. While his position in the squad as the second striker – due to BVB not even bothering to look at a veteran back-up – was given to him, he will still have to work hard to earn his minutes, and then make the most of them.

I ask everyone, Dortmund fan or not: Please don’t place unrealistic expectations on him.

Should Favre rotate at right back depending on the formation?

This has been said before, but it bears repeating: Thomas Meunier is not a wing-back.

He wasn’t effective at the beginning of the season in that position, and he wasn’t effective all that much against Hertha Berlin. He was effective, however, when Favre and Dortmund switched to a back-four with traditional full-backs. That was where, I believe, he really shined in attack and defense. It seems like Favre is trying to fit a round peg (Meunier) inside a square hole (RWB) and, despite Meunier’s defensive abilities, he’s been close to a liability with the ball at times with his errant passing and practically non-existent crossing.

Compare him to someone like Felix Passlack, who looked very good played him earlier in the season, and he would make more sense for the RWB position Favre wants. He is able to progress the ball midfield with urgency, and more often than not his decision-making and passing in the attack has been more effective.

While neither can replicate what Achraf Hakimi brought to that position in terms of pace and scoring ability from that position, I think we can all agree that Meunier and Passlack are upgrades defensively at the RB/RWB position. So perhaps we can platoon them depending on whatever formation Favre wants to go with for the match.

Let me know what questions you’ve got, or even a few answers to the ones above, following the win over Hertha Berlin.