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Players of the Season Roundtable: Midfielder

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Who was BVB’s best midfielder last season?

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-MAINZ-DORTMUND Photo by DANIEL ROLAND/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

So Manuel Akanji, Mats Hummels, and Raphael Guerreiro were nominated for the defender of the season in our first of these roundtables, and Mats Hummels came out on top in the public vote, followed by Guerreiro in second place, and Akanji trailing the other two nominees by some distance. But next up is midfield, and there were some very enjoyable midfield performances last season!

Here’s the team’s nominations for midfielder of the season:

Borussia Dortmund v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Paul Johnson: Jude Bellingham

Look, I had to do it. I’m maintaining a brand. Anything less would have been unacceptable.

I think there were two standout performers in BVB’s midfield last season, Dahoud and Bellingham, but I’m choosing Bellingham because of the consistent quality he delivered in a Dortmund shirt. Outside of one or two games, he has been brilliant since joining the club. I have long been a big, big fan of Jude, and I made some quite brash predictions about what he would do in his first year... He smashed those predictions, and more. He came up big in some very important games, and he provided some much needed energy whenever he was on the pitch.

The best part is that there’s so much more to come!

Mike Solak: Mahmoud Dahoud

Borussia Dortmund v RB Leipzig - Bundesliga for DFL Photo by Lukas Schulze/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

Paul is not wrong when he says there are two standout performers from the Dortmund midfield last season, which seems strange given the talent at BVB’s disposal. How many people going into the season expected these two to do what they did? Injuries and inconsistency plagued the likes of Axel Witsel, Emre Can, Julian Brandt, and Thomas Delaney, yet Jude Bellingham and Mahmoud Dahoud emerged as the first names on the team sheet, albeit at different times. While Jude had more consistent playing time, and has the brighter future, I think Dahoud just edges it for me.

Dortmund’s struggles to maintain midfield supremacy plagued the team in the early parts of the season, but seemed fixed when Dahoud was restored to the starting XI. Dahoud finally got consistent game-time in mid-February, but his performances in the early part of the season were excellent, even if he was used sparingly. Die Schwarzgelben’s hot streak to finish the season back in the Champions League places and lift the DFB-Pokal would not have happened without the slick-haired German midfielder. In fact, Dahoud played a variety of roles in the run-in, playing in either a central role or sitting deeper as the holding midfielder as well. He showed an innate ability to retain the ball and thread passes forward that no other central player had been able to do all season. Dortmund won 14 of their final 20 games in all competitions with Dahoud starting nearly all of them, with the 4 losses being Manchester City twice, Bayern Munich, and Eintracht Frankfurt. Edin Terzic’s hand was forced to start Dahoud in Seville, and what happened after was nothing short of exceptional. Where would Dortmund be if not for that decision?

Sean Keyser: Mahmoud Dahoud

FBL-GER-CUP-LEIPZIG-DORTMUND Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

I feel that it’s pretty close between Bellingham and Dahoud, but I think I just have to give the edge to Dahoud. Both players improved greatly as the season went on. Bellingham took a while to get up to speed in the Bundesliga and the Champions League, and Dahoud barely saw the pitch during the first half, until he suddenly established himself as a vital name on the score sheet. While Jude’s ability to win balls with his relentless workrate is remarkable, I value the ball progression that Dahoud brings a bit more.

Even though Dahoud played fewer than 2,000 minutes, he was a vital aspect of BVB’s second half turnaround, and I’m very excited to see how he does in a full season in 2021-22.

Steve Zimmerman: Raphael Guerreiro

You may take issue with calling him a defender, but he’s surely one of the most important players on the team. Perhaps this is the better category for the ineffable Raphael Guerreiro. In an interview this past season Guerreiro described his style of play:

Borussia Dortmund v RB Leipzig - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

And in that role, as he described it, he was vital for BVB this year with 6 goals and 11 assists in all competitions. Guerreiro easily outpaced every Dortmund midfielder in every creative metric. Only Jadon Sancho, or sometimes Marco Reus could top him. He was second on the team in shot-creating actions, goal-creating actions, key passes, passes into the penalty area, assists and expected assists. Generally starting play like a winger, but often stepping into the central midfield to find space and find solutions for the team, he led the team in progressive passes AND progressive carries. Guerreiro redefines his position. You can call him what you want, but he’s definitely one of the best in the world.


Have your say! Who was BVB’s best midfielder last season?

Poll

Midfielder of the Season

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Jude Bellingham
    (83 votes)
  • 51%
    Mahmoud Dahoud
    (132 votes)
  • 15%
    Raphael Guerreiro
    (40 votes)
255 votes total Vote Now