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09 Countdown #3: Marius Wolf - Borussia Dortmund’s Secret Weapon

Making the case for the importance of Marius Wolf to Dortmund’s upcoming campaign.

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Good day, Dortmund fans. My name is Joey, I’m a passionate writer currently earning an MFA in Creative Writing, and I love writing about my favorite club, Borussia Dortmund. I’ve recently joined the Fear The Wall team so you will be seeing some fun articles from me this coming season. Thank you to Sean, Paul, Zac, Patrick and the rest of the crew for having me. We’re in for an exciting season!

When discussing Borussia Dortmund in the preseason, a few headlines have dominated: Erling Haaland leaves for Manchester City; Edin Terzic is back in charge; Squad Overhaul. Sebastian Haller is an exciting record signing, but his recent cancer diagnosis leaves many fans crestfallen. Pundits have plenty of content to discuss and a slew of new signings to analyze. When it comes to coverage, some BVB players receive more than others. Personally, I don’t need to praise Marco Reus or divulge my honest thoughts on Nico Schulz. No, I’d like to talk about someone else: Marius Wolf, who is entering his fifth season on Borussia Dortmund’s payroll.

Wolf signed a 5-year contract with Borussia Dortmund in May 2018 for just 5 million euros, Lucien Favre’s second signing of his tenure. Some may remember Wolf’s first season in Black and Yellow as underwhelming with just 16 Bundesliga appearances and a single goal to his name. These are not boastful statistics for a player regarded as an attacking option. It was clear after just a single season there wasn’t a place in Favre’s squad for Wolf, and his performances did little to excite fans. Wolf subsequently spent the next two seasons on loan at Hertha Berlin and FC Koln respectively.

During Wolf’s 2-season absence, it would have been forgivable of BVB fans to have forgotten about the German player. Though many might agree that he doesn’t possess the quality to regularly start for Dortmund, Wolf found his way into Marco Rose’s system in a unique way: as a utility player, amassing 35 appearances across all competitions. So what exactly is a ‘Utility Player?’

I don’t mean to insinuate that Wolf might not be good enough to start for Dortmund. A ‘utility’ player is considered someone who is exceptionally versatile in their ability. We’ve seen Wolf competently slot into winger positions, wingback, central and attacking midfield and even an occasional placement as a traditional number 9. With last season’s long list of injuries, Wolf was needed more than ever, like a universal understudy to the main squad. He’s a reliable and consistent option to have on the bench, and strong enough to find his place among the depth of this bolstered squad.

TSV 1860 München v Borussia Dortmund - DFB Cup: First Round
Wolf made a 2nd half appearance in the Cup last weekend
Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

It can be hard to anticipate if the need of such a utility player will arise as prominently as it did last season, or if Wolf will find himself on the bench or in the reserves. But I’m willing to bet he’ll have a consistent bench place. While Wolf might not be a super-sub difference maker like Nils Peterson is to Freiburg, the German’s ability to seamlessly slot into a formation can be vital in maintaining a strategy through 90+ minutes. The recent win against 1860 München isn’t the best example, since the game was pretty much wrapped up by the time he came in for Meunier around 76’. Wolf didn’t offer anything special in his performance, but I would have been comfortable with him subbing in for any number of players. Wolf could find it difficult to break into the squad again this season considering the return of certain players like Gio Reyna and Mateu Morey, but with last year’s crisis, there’s no guarantee that Reyna or Morey will stay fit for an extended period. That can also be said for players like Niklas Sule, Thorgan Hazard and Mats Hummels to name a few. We’ve already seen this with Sule picking up an injury in the cup last weekend. I think I speak for every Dortmund fan in hoping Gio Reyna’s return isn’t marred by an aggravated injury. There are only so many times I can watch the poor guy hobble off in tears. If Wolf, Morey and Reyna were all on the bench, Reyna would be my first-choice winger, and Morey my first-choice wingback, but I’d rather see Wolf as a winger than Morey, and Wolf as a wingback would certainly be stronger than Renya in that same position. Wolf’s skillset allows him versatility on the pitch, and his performances last season showed that.

While Sebastian Kehl and Hans-Joachim Watzke have expressed a relaxed approach to the contract renewals of club legends Marco Reus and Mats Hummels, there are others entering their final season on contract. Marius Wolf is on that list. While signing bonuses helped Wolf’s Salary rise to 5 million euros his first season, he consistently makes 3 million a year. That feels like a bargain when compared to some of the club’s massive earners like Marco Reus, Thomas Meuneir and Emre Can who each make over 85 million euros a year.

If Dortmund can afford big names, then renewing Wolf’s contract as a backup seems like a no brainer. For someone who has been loaned out twice, Wolf’s gameday effort impressed me last season and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him in the coming weeks. From my perspective, Wolf has worked his way into this team, and there is a need for someone like him. I think he should be given an extension if that’s his wish. If Wolf wants to be a regular starter week in and week out, then perhaps he will seek an exit in January, but for now he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. For his European value being <10 million, I’d rather renew and not need Wolf, than sell or let him go and need him a year from now. Holding on to him doesn’t cause any financial strain on BVB, and having just turned 27, Wolf is in his prime. He may just be Dortmund’s secret weapon. #UnleashTheWolf

Your Thoughts?

Now it’s your turn. Here are some questions for the community:

  • Do you think Marius Wolf deserves a contract extension or should we let him go?
  • Does Dortmund have anyone else you consider a utility player?
  • Does Wolf have the best hair now that Haaland is gone?
  • Will Wolf make an appearance this weekend against Leverkusen?

Share your thoughts.