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Keep or Sell, Part One: Who should BVB look to keep?

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In this three-part series we will look at players who have contracts winding down during the next two summers. So what should BVB do?

Sevilla FC v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League Round Of 16 Leg One Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images

Hello Fear the Wall followers, I am sure you all are doing well after Borussia Dortmund’s 1-0 victory against Borussia Mönchengladbach. That makes four in a row now, and after a sluggish start to the Rückrunde, BVB look to be in great form. It could not be coming at a better time for Die Schwarzgelben as a pivotal match against Bayern Munich looms on Saturday.

While things are getting extemely busy on the pitch again for BVB, the board are faced with many difficult tasks as well. 16 of the 33 senior players (including loanees) are going to be out of contract by the summer of 2022. The club needs to take a good hard look at these players moving forward to continue assembling the best squad that can compete on the pitch, as well as financially.

In this three-part series we will discuss those players and what I think Dortmund should do, starting with defenders and goal-keepers.

Lukasz Piszczek

Contract expiry 2021

Recruited in 2010 from Hertha Berlin, Piszczek has been a Dortmund legend with over a decade of service. Having won two Bundesliga titles, two DFB Pokals, and three DFL Supercups, the Polish International has done everything BVB fans could ever ask for. Not only has Piszczek been an amazing defender, but he has also been one of the best attacking right-backs in Europe too. According to fbref.com, Piszczek has scored 37 goals and added 61 assists across 498 matches played for three different clubs.

With 352 matches played for Borussia Dortmund, Piszczek is a club stalward who has announced he is retiring at the end of the season. Having grown up in Poland, Piszczek has made plans to return to his first club Zaglebie Lubin where he intends to coach the academy team. While he has only played five matches this season for Dortmund, I hope that we can get some fans back into stands, because this man deserves to take a bow in front of the Yellow Wall.

Verdict: Retire

Borussia Dortmund v FC Augsburg - Bundesliga
BVB’s best right-back ever
Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images

Marcel Schmelzer

Contract Expiry 2021

As great as Piszczek was for the club, so too was German left-back Marcel Schmelzer. A Dortmund youth product, Schmelzer has made 343 appearances for the club over his first twelve seasons, but has yet to feature this season due to injury. The former U-21 European champion for Germany also boasts two Bundesliga titles, two DFB Pokals, and three DFL supercups. Wanting a move away last year during the January transfer window, Schmelzer was forced to stay in Dortmund by the BVB board who were not willing to part ways just yet with the German. The 33 year-old will most surely find work after this season should he choose to, but I would love for him to retire at Dortmund. Schmelzer has been very vocal about being involved in some capacity at Borussia Dortmund after his playing days are over, so if he does decide to leave, we can be sure he will come back.

Verdict: Release

Borussia Dortmund U23 v 1.FC Koeln U23 - Regionalliga West
Schmelzer has yet to feature for Dortmund this season
Photo by Max Maiwald/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Felix Passlack

Contract Expiry 2021

Frequently loaned youngster Felix Passlack is a 22 year-old Dortmund academy product who just has not found a place in the squad yet. Having clocked 343 minutes this season for Dortmund, it will be interesting to see what BVB decide to do here. While Passlack provides depth, at 22 he should be playing more football and he just does not look like getting it for Dortmund unless we have lots of injuries. Undersized, Passlack can play both sides of the pitch equally well but it is not of the perceived caliber for a Dortmund player. I think it is time to let Felix Passlack move on.

Verdict: Release

Luca Unbehaun

Contract Expiry 2022

A twenty-year old Dortmund academy product, Unbehaun is currently the emergency goalkeeper for squad. The youngster has yet to make a senior appearance for the club but at such a young age there really is no hurry here. Having not quite developed yet, the club are probably in no hurry to re-sign Unbehaun right now. Depending on what happens next summer with the goalkeeper situation, Unbehaun should be given an extension and a loan to a 2.Bundesliga club or abroad to get some much needed first team experience.

Verdict: Re-sign and send out on loan

Manuel Akanji

Contract Expiry 2022

In January of 2018, Borussia Dortmund pulled the trigger on a $23.5 million deal to sign center back Manuel Akanji from FC Basel. A promising young talent, the 25 year-old has had his ups and downs since joining BVB. Blessed with excellent athletic ability, Akanji still finds himself a starter despite calls from club supporters that he is not good enough. Having not fully won over supporters, this season serves to be big for Akanji given his contract is up in less than 18 months. Looking like a world-beater at times, it is confusing why Akanji doesn’t seem to dominate the game more. Akanji has improved many facets of his game but he still lacks positional awareness and aerial challenging ability. Here is a link to an article earlier this year analyzing Akanji’s much improved passing ability:

The Dortmund board have a big call to make here with Akanji given that he has not hit the heights that they were hoping for now. Akanji’s stock is not very high currently, and he may well want to re-sign until he can get his value up.

Verdict: Short term extension now, follow up in the summer of 2022

Dan-Axel Zagadou

Contract Expiry 2022

Prodigious talent Dan-Axel Zagadou signed for Borussia Dortmund from Paris Saint Germain in 2017 much like his peers, to experience game time at a big club. Unfortunately, “Big Zag” has only made 69 appearances for BVB due to several injuries. A fan favorite, the 21 year-old remains a freak talent and has recently just returned from injury again. If Zagadou can get some minutes during this stretch run, it will be a big boost to not only the squad, but the board above so they can get a good look at him before this summer. Even with injuries, Zagadou will be wanted by many clubs in Europe and Dortmund cannot afford to go into next season with Zagadou on an expiring contract. Should Zagadou refuse to sign a new deal, BVB will be forced to sell.

Borussia Dortmund v 1. FSV Mainz 05 - Bundesliga
Zagadou is back from injury again
Photo by Leon Kuegeler - Pool/Getty Images

Verdict: Offer a new deal (the upside of his talent is worth it)

Mats Hummels

Contract Expiry 2022

Mats Hummels’ fate is more or less tied to what Dortmund do with Akanji and Zagadou, plus in the transfer market. Having returned from Bayern Munich in 2019, Hummels has been Dortmund’s best defender over the past 18 months. His trademark long balls, aerial presence, and sublime defending were largely missed during his three season stint with the Bavarians. Lately, it looks as if Hummels has been struggling with niggling injuries and a heavy work load. The congested fixture list has done no favors for the 31 year-old, and his lack of pace, which has always been his achilles heel is more noticeable than ever. When Hummels returned to BVB it was clear that it was his desire to play and often that was most important to him.

FC Schalke 04 v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga
Hummels is still a huge aerial threat in both penalty boxes
Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

Hummels still has a year left, so I think Dortmund can slow play this and see how much he contributes going forward. The board could be taking a chance, but I believe that Hummels’ desire to play also involves playing at a big club. Playing for Union Berlin or Augsburg is most likely not on the German’s radar, so the club can afford to slow play this and offer short term extensions based on need.

Verdict: Wait for now

Your Thoughts:

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