While it’s not quite the midway point of the season, this is the closest we’re going to get to a winter pause, so I thought it would be a good time to conduct a brief overview of BVB’s performances so far.
Today, we’re going to look at Borussia Dortmund’s attackers who have received significant minutes this season, and assign them a letter grade based on their performances to date:
I’m not here to explain the blindingly obvious to you. Haaland is doing things that no one his age has done before. The only negative so far this season is that he hasn’t been able to play every game.
This really doesn’t need an explanation.
Sean M: A-
The guy is a machine. The kinks in the armor were on full display after his injury. Only a slight downgrade because he missed the final part of the Hinrunde (or this season's version of it).
Sancho has struggled to have the kind of impact that he has in previous seasons, but he is working hard and I think there’s every reason to think he can dig his way out of the hole.
If anyone at BVB has suffered the most from the departure of Achraf Hakimi, it may have been Jadon. Without Hakimi blitzing down the wing and allowing Sancho the freedom to cut inside and take defenders on, he has struggled. He’s still a threat that other teams should take seriously, and he’s nowhere near a finished product, so there’s still plenty of time for him to return to scintillating form.
Sean M: C-
I 100% agree with Nick’s assessment. Hakimi’s departure has significantly hindered Sancho’s production. He has been exposed as a one-trick pony this season. Without a pacey winger to play give and goes with he has become overly reliant on the elaborate dribbling, often being dispossessed, and in turn, killing the attack.
Reus hasn’t had a bad season, but he’s not having the kind of impact we’re used to. This might be the long-term future for Reus, and if that’s the case, I think he still offers plenty of value, but it seems like we can’t rely on him to put the team on his back every week.
He’s been ok, but that’s not good enough. Maybe age and injuries have caught up with him, but he hasn’t had the kind of impact that Dortmund supports have been used to. Like Paul, I think he still offers plenty to BVB, as a player and as a leader, but I don’t think we can call him an impact player right now.
Sean M: B
The rust has been slow to come off after coming back from another long term injury. His performances before the winter break were much better and hopefully that is a sign of things to come. In my opinion, Reus has been criticized too heavily for the teams' lack of production. No, he hasn’t turned in some of the world-class performances that we’ve become accustomed to, but he has been solid in attack and provided a ton of help defensively. If Terzic is as big of a Klopp disciple as he’s been made out to be, then Reus’s leadership will be vital in leading the press after the winter break.
Without Haaland leading the line, BVB were in desperate need of someone to act as a focal point for the offense, and Moukoko has done a pretty good job of it. He is getting shots in good positions, and with a little more luck, and timing his runs a little better, he could easily have more than his one goal so far. Moukoko continues to impress!
He may only be 16 and has only played a month of first-team football, but it looks like Moukoko is worthy of the hype. He’s very good off-ball and his speed and technical abilities, while not on par with Haaland, have been great to see. I think even when Haaland returns to the XI, Moukoko will be a very effective attacking option off the bench for BVB.
Sean M: C
The fact that a 16 year old kid is getting regular playing time at a club the size of BVB is an accomplishment in it of itself. You could clearly see he was pressing in his first few performances. A nervous first touch let him down on more than one occasion. His best performance was in his final appearance against Union, where he scored an amazing goal. Let's hope that goal will help calm his nerves and he will play to his ability in the second half of the season. Haaland’s return should also take some of the pressure off of him and allow him to find his footing.
Reyna has been a little inconsistent so far this season, but when he is at his best he has been brilliant. He’s a kid that is trying things out, and finding out what works and what doesn’t. This process will lead to a more consistent threat in the near future.
His strong connection with Haaland is a joy to watch. I really hope we get to watch those two playing together for BVB beyond this season.
There are times where he’s looked like the best player on the pitch and ready to set the footballing world aflame, and there are times where he looks like an 18 year old in his first full season of first-team football. The newly-crowned US Young Player of the Year still has some things to work on before he can make an argument as the best player for Dortmund and the USMNT, but he is an incredibly promising player for club and country. He’s also best friends with Haaland, and that can’t be a bad thing.
Sean M: B
The 18 year old has some next-level ability but let's not anoint him as the second coming just yet. He scored some amazing goals and has a great connection with Haaland, but he is still a work in progress defensively. Union’s first goal was clearly his fault and at times he disappears defensively during a match. Personally, I feel the team would benefit if he were moved inside and Reus was moved onto the wing. I’d also like to see him stop diving. IMO he was lucky to earn the penalty on the first matchday against BMG. A player of his size shouldn’t look to fall over at the first sign of contact. Plus, getting a reputation as someone who goes down far too easily is something he should look to avoid, he’ll lose more calls in the long run if he becomes associated with that type of play.