Happy New Year everyone! Not only is it the beginning of 2023, but it’s also the beginning of the January transfer window for clubs across Europe. The January window marks the period where clubs can bring in reinforcements from other teams and the beginning of a period where clubs can begin to sign players on pre-contracts in anticipation for next season. While we shouldn't expect much activity from Borussia Dortmund in this transfer window, we can count on crucial contract talks coming to a close over the course of this month.
Before we talk about the players who can leave Dortmund for free in June, it’s important to understand what a pre-contract is.
Pre-Contracts: What Are They?
A pre-contract is an agreement where a player commits to signing for a new club upon the expiration of their current contract. It’s essentially wrapping up all the paperwork before a player becomes a free agent.
There are some limitations, however, as players and clubs have to follow specific rules. A player can only sign a pre-contract with a club outside of the league the said player currently plays in, meaning any Dortmund player whose contract expires in 2023 cannot sign a contract with another Bundesliga team until their contract officially expires. Sure, they can verbally commit like Niklas Sule did last season when he announced he would be moving to Dortmund, but they cannot sign the paperwork until after the season.
Furthermore, players can only sign pre-contracts in the last six months of their current contract. Due to the fact most contracts end in June, January usually marks the milestone for the final six months of the contracts when players are allowed to sign pre-contracts.
So, who are the six key players entering the final six months of their contracts?
Who Could Leave Borussia Dortmund?
In 2018, Marco Reus signed a 5-year long contract that committed him to stay in Dortmund throughout the twilight of his career. Fast forward five years and the hometown hero has become the club’s captain, led the team to two DFB-Pokal trophies, is 10th on the team’s all-time appearance list, 4th on the team’s all-time goalscorer (3 behind Michael Zorc in 2nd place), and 1st on the team’s all-time assists. There is no doubt he is a BVB legend.
Now, it’s become apparent that he only has a few more years left playing football at the highest level. Reus has only played 9 Bundesliga games so far this season and hasn’t played a full 90 minutes since September 10th. Despite the return of his injury problems, Marco has looked like one of Dortmund’s best players and has 4 goal involvements across 639 minutes of football in the league, which leaves him tied for second-best G+A per 90. While Julian Brandt continues to impress this season in Reus’s absence, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Reus come back and reclaim his spot.
Do I think he’ll sign a new contract with Dortmund? Absolutely. He’s already expressed interest in a new contract and Kehl would be crazy to not give him one. The real questions are how much he’ll get paid and how long the contract will be for. He’s currently earning roughly €11m a year and we should see this number drop slightly when he signs a new contract. As for timing, I wouldn’t be surprised if the club throws him another 3-4 year contract just to keep him around. As I said, he’s a club legend.
Likelihood of signing a new contract (1/10): 10
34-year-old Mats Hummels is currently the only player at the club who has won the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, doing so twice in 2011 and 2012. He’s also set to pass Roman Weidenfeller to have the second-most appearances in Dortmund’s black and yellow, despite his controversial move to Dortmund.
More importantly for his contract talks, Hummels has been experiencing a twilight renaissance at the end of his career here. The club brought in Sule and Schlotterbeck this past summer to form a new center back partnership but both have failed to replace Hummels. He’s put in several man-of-the-match performances, including against Manchester City. The most telling stat, however, is this: With Hummels, Dortmund has conceded 10 goals in 1062 minutes (106 minutes per goal), while without Hummels, Dortmund has conceded 11 goals in 288 minutes (26 minutes per goal).
That is a staggering difference. Needless to say, Mats Hummels has been vital for Borussia Dortmund this season and we should look to sign him for another one or two seasons. Hummels has also expressed interest in a new contract already. The only question marks are around salary.
Likelihood of signing a new contract (1/10): 9
With all the drama and intrigue surrounding Jude Bellingham, Dortmund’s other midfield maestro’s contract situation has flown under the radar. Mahmoud Dahoud quickly thrust his way into the hearts and minds of Borussia Dortmund fans during Terzic’s first tenure where he became vital to the team’s success.
After another successful campaign for him last year, Dahoud began this season with a lot of promise in a box-to-box role doing tremendous work on both sides of the ball. Then, 32 minutes into Borussia Dortmund’s third game of the season, he fell on his shoulder and required surgery, sidelining him for the rest of the season thus far. It’s hard to quantify what impact a fit Dahoud would have on this season but comparing the FB Ref 1-year scouting reports for Mahmoud Dahoud and his direct replacement, Emre Can, it becomes fairly telling...
While Can’s numbers are slightly skewed due to his time at center back, it is evident that Dahoud offers a lot more in terms of progression while still maintaining reasonable defensive numbers. Offensively, Dahoud connects more progressive passes per 90 (5.08) than any other Dortmund midfielder, including Jude Bellingham (4.91) and Julian Brandt (4.10) while attempting more passes than anyone else. Last season, he completed 1.2 through balls per 90. Dortmund’s next closest midfielder was Bellingham at .387. Defensively, he offers more tackles (2.81) per 90 than any other midfielder and provides reasonable defensive support.
So, what does Mahmoud Dahoud offer Borussia Dortmund? Well, he’s the only midfielder we have that can attempt to match Jude Bellingham’s effectiveness on both sides of the ball. With a certain Englishmen looking set to leave this summer, it might be a good idea to keep the now 27-year-old around on a long-term deal.
Is Dahoud interested in a new contract? According to Waz, the German wants a new contract but it’s no guarantee as Premier League clubs begin to grow interested in Dortmund’s mustached marauder. Please, Kehl, get this contract done.
Likelihood of signing a new contract (1/10): 7
All right everybody, here’s where things start to get dicey. Youssoufa Moukoko’s contract negotiations have garnered much fanfare over the past few months as there is lots of interest from other Champions League teams that want to sign him. At just 18-years-old, Moukoko has been involved in 9 goals across 769 minutes this season and has replaced Anthony Modeste in Dortmund’s starting 11. This puts him at just over a goal a game. They haven’t just been in small games either. Moukoko scored against Freiburg, Schalke, and Bayern across three of Dortmund’s most important Bundesliga games this season.
Outside of just goals, his numbers are decent with 3.23 shots, 1.05 dribbles completed, and 2.25 shot-creating actions per game. Not to mention he’s an academy graduate and will likely pile up a pretty decent transfer fee if he stays at Dortmund for a few more years. So, what’s the hold-up?
Well, a reported demand for a multi-year contract with a €6 million base salary from Moukoko’s camp makes this a tricky one. That’s a decent bit of money to throw at a teenager with 11 professional goals to his name. The reported salary would place him on par with Anthony Modeste and above the likes of Nico Schlotterbeck, Mahmoud Dahoud, and Julian Brandt. Furthermore, a salary of €6 million would put him in new territory for Borussia Dortmund as they have never given someone with so little experience that kind of money. The biggest argument against a salary of that size isn’t the actual sum itself, Dortmund can afford it, it’s that it threatens to break the wage structure of the club. Would players like Reus, Hummels, and Dahoud ask for more when salary negotiations come rolling around if they saw Moukoko receive a large salary? Most likely. Still, it’s hard to argue against keeping Moukoko considering he’s likely a generational talent in a position Dortmund are desperately in need of.
The next problem for the club is how interested Moukoko is in a new contract. He’s previously come out and said his full focus is on Borussia Dortmund and that he hasn’t turned down all contract offers from the club yet. Still, it wasn’t a rousing vote of confidence in a new contract and amidst a sea of contracts from abroad, it will be interesting to see where Moukoko ends up.
Likelihood of signing a new contract (1/10): 5
Raphaël Guerreiro is a bit of an interesting case. Apart from Marco Reus and Mats Hummels, no current player has more appearances for the club than the 29-year-old. Since being signed from Lorient in 2016, Guerreiro has played over 200 games as a left back, midfielder, and left winger for Borussia Dortmund. Furthermore, he was one of our most exciting players during the first four or five years of his time at the club.
Now, things have changed slightly. He’s still one of, if not the best, attacking fullbacks in the league. He’s in the top 90 percentile for goals, shots, passes attempted, and progressive passes completed. I’d even go as far as to say he is our most technically gifted player with the ball at his feet. Defensively, however, things are bleak. His tackles are fairly low at 1.65 per 90, he doesn’t offer a whole lot in terms of physicality, and he’s had problems failing to track back defensively.
More importantly, the Dortmund board doesn’t seem too fond of keeping the Portuguese star. With Borussia Monchengladbach’s Ramy Bensebaini and now-Leipzig player David Raum being linked in the summer, it looks like Dortmund is shopping for replacements. On the other side of the coin, it seems like Guerreiro is interested in a new contract at Dortmund. He has now spent 6 years in Dortmund and his kids have grown up here. While there will be plenty of suitors for him, it seems like the decision is up to the Dortmund hierarchy.
And that decision is probably “Goodbye Rapha”.
Likelihood of signing a new contract (1/10): 3
It’s important to be blunt about Anthony Modeste’s signing: He was a €12 million short-term solution that was signed due to one of Dortmund’s most expensive signings, Sebastian Haller, being diagnosed with cancer. Last season, Modeste was averaging 0.83 G+A per 90 and ended the season with 20 goals and 4 assists. At Dortmund, the 34-year-old has averaged 0.37 G+A per 90, much lower than last season’s tally. Not to mention he’s on one of the higher wages in the squad with €6 million a year. Is it entirely his fault? Probably not. The system he thrived in under Köln is almost alien to this Dortmund team. He also scored that goal against Bayern and has looked pretty good when receiving crosses inside the box.
So, what’s the real incentive to keep Modeste around? Well, much like Guerreiro, Modeste’s contract feels very much up to the club on whether or not they extend. He should have much lower wage demands considering he’s at the end of his career and Dortmund is providing European football (I hope) for next season. Furthermore, Modeste is another body in a position Dortmund desperately needs. He hasn’t been great but Dortmund’s entire attack hasn’t been great. A poacher can only thrive given opportunities to poach. If Dortmund’s entire offense turns it around, there’s definitely some value in having a guy like Modeste. Even if it’s just to have a target man. So do I think this contract will happen? I think it’s dependent on Moukoko and Haller, who looks set to return for the second half of the season.
Likelihood of signing a new contract (1/10): 4
Who should Borussia Dortmund try to resign and for how much? Do you think any of them will leave? If so, who would you want to replace them with?