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Players of the Season Roundtable: Forward

Who was BVB’s best forward last season?

RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund - DFB Cup Final 2021 Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images

Last but not least (of the positional awards, at least), we have the forwards! Mats Hummels won the vote for defender of the season, and Mo Dahoud won the vote for BVB’s best midfielder, all while Rapha Guerreiro snuck his way in to each of the nominations and proved himself the positionless wonder. Sadly, we didn’t complete the set and nominate him for the vote for the best forward of last season, but I’m sure you’ll be plenty satisfied with the nominees.

Paul Johnson: Jadon Sancho

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

I’ve been picking top performers that ultimately miss out on the top award so far throughout this series, so why stop now? Jadon Sancho is my forward of the season.

I think the award is between Erling Haaland and Sancho, and while either would be worthy winners, I think Sancho’s performances were what made Borussia Dortmund tick. While Haaland was completely unplayable at times last season, I think it was Jadon Sancho that helped make him that player, all while contributing plenty of his own offensive output. He averaged 0.79 goals and assists per 90, chipped in plenty ball progression, and was all around a thrill to watch.

It’s going to be impossible to replace Jadon Sancho, and we will all miss him.

Mike Solak: Jadon Sancho

RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund - DFB Cup Final 2021 Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

I believe that there are three players who could possibly be chosen for this: Erling Haaland, Marco Reus, and of course Jadon Sancho. I was compelled to make a case for either of the other two just to bring a different conversation to the forum, but Sancho just ticks too many boxes for me not to select him. Even after such a slow start statistically, Sancho still managed to bag 16 goals while laying on 19 assists in all competitions. In the Bundesliga, specifically, Sancho’s 5.46 SCA/90 (shot creating actions) were second, his .96 GCA/90 (goal creating actions) were third, and his 3.58 PPA/90 (completed passes into the 18-yard box minus set pieces) also ranked third in the league.

Sancho is also integral to Dortmund’s build up play much like Raphael Guerreiro, performing a multitude of duties while on the pitch. It is no coincidence that when Sancho elevated his game during the second half of the season, so did Dortmund. His form was out of this world the last few months and I cannot help but wonder if Sancho plays against Manchester City in the Champions League quarterfinal if we don’t squeak by them. His fiery passion and energy for the game is unparalleled and it will take a quite a performance from someone to step into those shoes this upcoming season. Quite simply, to borrow a phrase from Reggie Jackson, Sancho was the straw that stirred the drink, and he was definitely the team’s best forward this past season.

Sean Keyser: Erling Haaland

RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund - DFB Cup Final 2021 Photo by Filip Singer - Pool/Getty Images

Now that the contrarians have had their say, let’s move on to the real and obviously correct answer, which is Erling Haaland. He scored 41 goals, more than twice as many goals as Jadon Sancho’s 16, and also finished third on the team in assists with 10 in all competitions. I don’t know exactly how many passes in the 18-yard box per 90 Haaland created, but quite frankly, when you score 40 goals in a season, you could spend every other minute sitting in the corner sucking your thumb and still be forward of the season.

When it comes to discussing the player of the season, I think a player’s raw totals matter a lot more than a player’s /90 stats. If a player saw fewer minutes on the pitch, then they by definition had a smaller impact on the season, regardless of what they did when they actually played. So yes, Sancho played fewer minutes than Haaland, but even so, Haaland is the best attacker on the squad by a comfortable margin. His G+A/90, even without PKs, was 0.2 higher than Sancho in all competitions. In expected goals the disparity was even larger, with Haaland’s NPxG+xA/90 almost doubling Jadon Sancho’s at 0.97 - 0.56.

Furthermore, a good chunk of Sancho’s production came in the DFB-Pokal, against arguably the weakest level of competition. In the Bundesliga, Haaland had 33 goals and assists to Sancho’s 19, and in the Champions League 12 to Sancho’s 5. His /90 minutes only demonstrate further what an absolute monster Haaland was in the Champions League, with an astounding 1.41 G+A/90 to Sancho’s 0.97.

So yes, you can make the argument that with Sancho BVB might have beaten Manchester City. But without Haaland, I question whether we would have made it out of the group stage. I understand the argument that Sancho can really drive the play for BVB. He’s great at creating shots and goals with his dribbling. But do you guys remember how absolutely dead in the water Dortmund looked when Haaland missed a string of performances in the winter? Furthermore, Erling Haaland was an absolute monster in big games. He scored four goals in three appearances against Bayern Munich, four goals in two legs against Sevilla, assisted against Manchester City, and scored a brace in the DFB Pokal Final. A lot of BVB players seem to have a tendency to shrink under pressure against Bayern, but not Haaland. He dominates Bayern just as much as he dominates everyone else.

While I love Jadon as a player and think BVB will be much worse without him, there’s no denying that Erling Haaland was the primary driving force behind Borussia Dortmund last year, which is why I’m so excited to see what he can do with Donyell Malen at his side.

Steve Zimmerman: Erling Haaland

Borussia Dortmund v SV Werder Bremen - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

For defenders and midfielders, we had some lively arguments about who was the best player on our team. Mike lays out all of the reasons that Sancho was one of the best creative players in the Bundesliga last year. But today, we aren’t talking about just the best on the team, or second or third in the Bundesliga, we will be arguing about who is the best young goal scorer in the world. There is an extremely small group of players who have averaged more than one goal contribution per 90 minutes for their entire career. Jadon Sancho is just on the edge of that group after a slightly down season.

Erling Haaland is the newest card carrying member after a monster season that showed he could be the best goal scorer in the world for the next 10 years. This year, the Norwegian played 41 games and scored 41 goals in all competitions while adding 10 assists. His 25 non-penalty league goals placed him 3rd in the world behind only Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski and ahead of a certain young Frenchman. Haaland’s 1.16 non-penalty goals + assists per game was also ahead of Kylian Mbappe and easily outpaced his teammates. Dortmund has had a string of great young attackers, and Jadon Sancho is certainly one of the best and brightest. But Erling Haaland has a combination of physical dominance and absolute determination to score goals that is all but unmatched in the world. This year, I’ll be cheering for him to challenge Lewandowski, not just for the “Kicker-Torjägerkanone” but to upset that newly minted Bundesliga scoring record and lay claim to being the absolute best striker in the world.

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


Forward of the Season

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Jadon Sancho
    (40 votes)
  • 71%
    Erling Haaland
    (100 votes)
140 votes total Vote Now