Now that the transfer window has closed, the FTW writers have come together to give our thoughts on how Borussia Dortmund did in the market. There was quite a lot going on for the club, with the huge loss of Jadon Sancho, and a couple big additions in Donyell Malen and Gregor Kobel. But what did we make of Dortmund’s window, in total?
Transfer Window Summary
Donyell Malen (PSV Eindhoven) - €30m
Gregor Kobel (VfB Stuttgart) - €15m
Marin Pongracic (VfL Wolfsburg) - Loan (Option to Buy)
Soumaila Coulibaly (Paris Saint-Germain) - Free
Abdoulaye Kamara (Paris Saint-Germain) - Free
Jadon Sancho (Manchester United) - €85m
Thomas Delaney (FC Sevilla) - €6m
Leonardo Balerdi (Olympique Marseille) - €11m
Jeremy Toljan (US Sassuolo) - €3.5m
Sergio Gomez (RSC Anderlecht) - €2.25m
There were several players that BVB were looking to sell that are still at the club, primarily Roman Burki and Nico Schulz. I think it’s possibly that recent performances have led to Rose deciding to keep Schulz.
Grading the Transfer Window
I think we’ve covered a lot of weak spots in the team but there’s question marks about some of the quality, and we failed to shift some players that we really needed to. I’m unsure how much leeway should be given because of the pandemic, but I think it’s definitely a relevant part of this discussion.
I think Gregor Kobel has been the best performer so far, but I am also pretty pleased with the acquisition of two talented young players from Paris. Donyell Malen hasn’t stepped up just yet. But I think he will in the near future. We will need to see the best of Malen for this season to be a success, but he has to be given a moment to settle first.
Overall, it was imperfect, with the squad still a little bloated, and the lack of quality at right back not addressed, but if Kobel continues to play as well as he has so far and Malen hits his stride, I think BVB have done well in challenging circumstances.
Given the restraints imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic, this transfer window certainly could have been worse. The absence of Jadon Sancho will have a lasting negative impact on the team, and Donyell Malen will only partially make up for it. Marin Pongracic can play right back in a pinch, but I’m not sold on him at a long term solution. We knew for three months that we would need a right back, but it seems that it took three disastrous performances from Felix Passlack for that reality to sink in. Furthermore, the club couldn’t find a way to drop the contracts of Burki or Nico Schulz, and thus couldn’t afford to bring in Callum Hudson-Odoi.
The saving grace thus far is Gregor Kobel, who has looked like a legitimate elite goalkeeper since he joined BVB. The jury is still out on Malen; his performance against Hoffenheim has me optimistic. Overall we pretty much treaded water, which is why I’m giving the club a C+.
Nick K.: C
The COVID pandemic hit a lot of clubs in a lot of ways, and Dortmund was no stranger to the affects. They took a net loss of €72 million, and that’s going to make you think twice about going after certain players and positions. As sad as it was to see him go and as important as he was to the team, the sale of Jadon Sancho was necessary to help Dortmund get out of that financial hole.
The other sales (or attempted sales) haven’t been great. I think we could’ve gotten a little more from Delaney (hell, we probably should’ve kept him given how injury-prone Dortmund are), while guys like Balerdi and Gomez feel like big misfires and were sold just to get them away from the club and off the books, and not getting the likes of Burki (who I still love) and Schulz offloaded definitely isn’t great, although Schulz’s recent performances have been a pleasant surprise.
As for the acquisitions, they’ve been...ok. Kobel has definitely been the best of the bunch, although I’d like to see more from him to give a definitive grade. I haven’t been all that impressed with Malen thus far, but there’s still plenty of time for him to change my opinion.
I would’ve liked to have seen Dortmund be more aggressive in the market for defense, especially at right and centerback; the Pongracic loan can be a nice stopgap, but there should’ve been better planning on behalf of the admins with how long Zagadou, Hummels, and Can are looking to be out for.
While Covid had an impact for many clubs across Europe, there were also clubs doing some really smart business, and Dortmund were not one of them. The club failed to address a wing upgrade since losing Jadon Sancho and a right back was not brought in to replace Mateu Morey. The reputation surrounding Die Schwarzgelben is that they really excel in the transfer window. However, outside of the “can’t miss” generational talents, Dortmund continue to lose money on players as well.
Players like Thomas Delaney, Leonardo Balerdi, and Jeremy Toljan were just this summer, but there have been loads of others. Andriy Yarmolenko, Andre Schurrle, and Sebastian Rode are a few names that did not do well, but Dortmund are also sitting on several players they cannot get rid of. Nico Schulz is still at the club collecting huge wages despite everyone in Europe knowing he was available. Not only could Dortmund not offload the single-footed German, but it also meant they were not able to bring in a cheaper upgrade in Marcel Halstenberg, who was ready to sign once Schulz was jettisoned. This could very well be an issue soon with Thomas Meunier as well. The Belgian came on a free last summer, but with wages, agent fees, and bonuses totaling €50M euros over 4 years, the Belgium international has some serious work to make up for considering that kind of expenditure.
Roman Burki is still at the club as well even though it has been apparent since the new year that he would not be Dortmund’s number one keeper. The thing that really hurts is that backup Marwin Hitz was given an extension late last season locking both players down for a couple years. Gregor Kobel has been really good to start the season and is exactly what BVB needed, but Dortmund really failed to understand the market for Burki and are now stuck with three goalkeepers until January at least.
Perhaps Donyell Malen and Marin Pongracic will have big seasons and I will look like a fool, but Dortmund lost one of their two best players, took a big loss on a defensive midfielder who had a great Euros, and didn’t sign a right back all while being stuck with Schulz and Burki. This was not the window Dortmund fans had envisioned I am sure.
I would grade this transfer window higher if not for Dortmund’s actions in the last week of the transfer window. The sale of Thomas Delaney instead of Axel Witsel is still very difficult to understand, and the signing of Marin Pongracic is the epitome of a tail-between-the-legs moment. Do not get me wrong, Axel Witsel has been a quality player for Die Schwarzgelben, but if the Turin-based dumpster fire wants to take on a player going on 33 years old who sits on a high wage, Dortmund would have been better placed to keep the younger and hungrier Danish midfielder on board. When Emre Can went down re-injured, Dortmund were forced to make a move in the transfer market, bringing in Marin Pongracic. While understandable, this move shows just how flawed the board’s intentions were. We can pretty confidently say that Dortmund would not have signed Pongracic if not for the injury to Can; what if Can had been injured today instead? Or Manuel Akanji with Switzerland this week? The board has, for years, overlooked defensive frailty and once again has opted to respond by panicking. Nothing against Pongracic and I hope he proves to be a star, but the point stands; even a well stocked defense can fall to pieces, just look at Liverpool last season.
What grade would you give Borussia Dortmund’s transfer window?