After a busy summer transfer window, wherein Borussia Dortmund broke their transfer record, a number of players are facing added pressure to perform in order to secure their future at the Westfalenstadion. For various reasons, there are players in the squad whose futures are in doubt at BVB, and this season will be make or break for them.
Here I will detail the players who I believe will be on the chopping block next summer, should they fail to perform in black and yellow during the 22/23 campaign. In the interest of brevity, I have grouped these players into roughly 3 categories: those with contracts that will expire in the near future, those who are going to face increased competition from BVB’s new arrivals, and those for whom poor form is the greatest concern. I have also chosen not to include players like Nico Schulz and Manuel Akanji, who are almost certainly not in Edin Terzic’s plans for the season.
Without further ado, here goes my first solo article for Fear the Wall!
Mats Hummels and Youssoufa Moukoko
Both Hummels and Moukoko have deals running until Summer ‘23. While talks with Moukoko’s agent have stalled of late, it appears as though Hummels is not currently in line for a renewal. In a recent interview, he jokingly admitted that he wouldn’t extend with himself at the moment. Given his slightly below-par 21/22 season, this is understandable. However, he is an invaluable asset to the team off the pitch, and when at his best he was one of the best centre-backs in the world. In Moukoko’s case, his agents appear to be demanding assurances of regular playing time. Given the recent news about Haller, he might be in line to get those minutes this season. After showing what he’s all about in 20/21, his progress was stalled by injuries, and he wasn’t as convincing as expected on the pitch. This year, it is up to him to prove that he is worth it.
Recommendation: Sign Moukoko, evaluate Hummels for another short-term deal
Julian Brandt, Thorgan Hazard, Marius Wolf, Mateu Morey, Emre Can
Honorable mention: Gio Reyna
Due to the enormous number of new arrivals (and relatively few sales), the squad has gained some valuable depth. This, however, means that several players are going to have to settle for fewer minutes, and possibly a transfer away next summer. Of those players, Can seems to be the most at threat, as he was reportedly put up for sale by Terzic, because Terzic was not impressed by his attitude. The arrival of Salih Özcan also points to Can being ushered out the door. However, his recent cameo in the cup suggests that all is not lost yet. BVB have made it clear that they will listen to offers for Hazard this summer, but nothing concrete has materialised as yet. Hazard has been largely underwhelming in his time in NRW, despite a promising initial campaign, and will now have stiff competition for a place on the wing.
Wolf and Morey will be in direct competition for the back-up RB spot this season. While Dortmund have shown a lot of patience with Morey, I wouldn’t put it past them to scrap that project entirely should he have a poor season. Wolf seems to be perennially on the chopping block, but he really got stuck in last season and played an important role as a utility man. Should Morey find his feet, however, it is difficult to see BVB keeping him in their plans beyond this season.
And, finally, Julian Brandt. The enigmatic genius himself. I think a lot of the criticism he gets is unwarranted, especially after he put up decent numbers last season. However, Adeyemi’s arrival, combined with Terzic omitting him from the squad that travelled to Munich is telling. His versatility will be important to the team, especially as we look to start managing Reus’s match load, and he was brilliant under Terzic, but, should he not have a stellar campaign, his place will be taken by Bynoe-Gittens.
Recommendations: Keep Brandt, Wolf, Morey. Sell Hazard, Can
Bonus: U23 Players
Bradley Fink, Luca Unbehaun
Two really promising players who are (in my opinion) ready for their first taste of top-level football. Unbehaun appears to have slipped down the pecking order at BVBII with the arrival of Marcel Lotka and the promotion of Silas Ostrzinski, and it’s hard to see the Fritz Walter Medal recipient choosing to stay another season should he find opportunities hard to come by. Bradley Fink is a quality striker with an eye for goal, and he could be a real asset to the first team should he be given some time to settle in. Haller’s absence should mean some game time for the Swiss, as I could see him being useful as a back-up for Mouki.
Recommendations: Look to use Unbehaun in the Pokal, Promote Fink as Moukoko’s back-up
Donyell Malen, Rapha Guerreiro
No two ways about it, Donny had an awful first season. Reports late in the Rückrunde even suggested that BVB were looking to cut their losses on the €30m signing and sell him for any reasonable offer. However, he has looked sharp in pre-season and was a shoo-in for MOTM during the first competitive outing of the season (even though it was against some rather sub-standard opposition). As for Rapha, the Raum rumours never stopped swirling until a certain tin-pot energy drink club put them to rest this week, and I’d be surprised if the impressive Prince Aning isn’t given a look this season. Terzic really unlocked Guerreiro by playing him at wing-back, and I think Süle and Schlotti would do a great job of flanking Hummels in a back three. Big season needed.
Recommendations: Look to use Donny as a winger, play Rapha at wing-back
Who will BVB look to move on from after this season, should they fail to impress? And is there anyone else that is at risk?