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Who Needs Midfielders Anyway?

One, two, THREE midfielders? When is it going to end?

SV Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

Recently, the news broke that Borussia Dortmund would not be extending Mahmoud Dahoud. Although season ticket holders in Westfalenstadion south and north stand rows R-Z have collectively and rightfully breathed a sigh of relief, a few annoying brats in the BVB fanbase have taken to whining about such first-world problems as “getting rid of a talented midfielder for no reason” and “an alarming lack of midfield depth.” I’m here to put these rumors to rest, and explain why sending Dahoud to the glue factory is not only a smart sporting decision, but a moral imperative.1

Unlike my fellow writer Paddy, whose commitment to the Dahoud fanboy bit is as admirable as it is concerning health-wise, I have no personal bias here. I have not been swayed by Dahoud’s stylish mustache, somewhat decent technical abilities, or whatever the hell else Paddy sees in him. As a result, I am not only fine with BVB not extending Mahmoud Dahoud, but I think he should be treated the same way he treats the ball when he’s trying to score from outside the box, which is to say that he should be punted out of the Westfalenstadion never to return.

But some of you will say, “Sean, Mahmoud Dahoud is a skilled midfielder whose ball-playing abilities give Dortmund tactical flexibility to transition possession play from the back four to the forwards, and with Jude Bellingham likely leaving, the club will be short on midfielders as it is.” Jude Bellingham may be leaving for greener pastures (err, less green if he goes to Liverpool), but that is no excuse to keep pulling Dahoud’s dead weight around.

Normally I don’t like to bring philosophy-doctorate-logic into my articles, but I think an important topic like this deserves it. While this is partially because I like to throw the occasional bone to the anti-analytics crowd in our audience, it’s mainly because I would never allow something as terrestrial as data to mar my otherwise Aristotelian metaphysical arguments. Truths of the universe are not assessed with expected goals or dribbles completed/90, so neither must Mahmoud Dahoud. If you will, please allow me to bolster my argument upon a series of axioms:

Axiom #1: Players Never Get Injured

Sure, they take a knock here and there, but it’s never anything a few ibuprofen tablets and an ice bath after the game won’t fix. Studies have shown2 that ignoring any tight or shooting pains during a game is the best way to avoid an injury, and if something does happen it doesn’t matter, because playing through something like a pulled hammy builds character.

Axiom #2: Players Never Get Tired

150 years ago, settlers made the journey along the Oregon Trail on foot, over 1500 miles, often walking 12 hours a day. I think these guys can kick a ball around for 90 minutes, and once again, if they’re sore, it’s nothing an ice bath after the game won’t fix.

Axiom #3: We Already Have Emre Can

This isn’t really an axiom, but it is true.

Axiom #4: All Midfielders are the Same

Can we all just drop the pretentious fakery and acknowledge this? #6, box-to-box, holding midfielder, double pivot, stopper; nobody knows what any of these words mean, let alone the players. I certainly don’t. If you got any manager alone in a room, you could probably get them to admit that they just send like three guys out there to “have a go at it” and see what happens. You don’t need one guy just because he “progresses the ball” slightly more than others if you have a perfectly acceptable midfielder on hand (see Axiom #3).

Axiom #5: When in Doubt, Go and Scout

If the rubber really hits the road and you actually do need another midfielder, you can always go drop €5 million on some rando playing for Augsburg. Is said rando any good? I don’t know, that’s why you scout them first! Seriously, what is with you people?

  1. Note: Remember to look up what a “moral imperative” is.
  2. Note: Find any source to back this up.

So, to recap, Mahmoud Dahoud is a midfielder. All midfielders are the same, and Emre Can is a midfielder, so Emre Can is the same type of player as Mahmoud Dahoud. Emre Can can never get hurt, nor can he ever get tired, and if for some reason he does, we can just go buy another cheap midfielder off the shelf from a mid-tier Bundesliga club (see Özcan).

Before I leave, I would like to address the Dahoud gang (read: Paddy) directly:

Listen guy(s). I get it. You’ve devoted the last four years to bizarrely and inexplicably stanning one particular somewhat decent midfielder, and that particular player is soon to be departing us. You’re probably thinking back to all the great memories that Mahmoud Dahoud created in his time in Dortmund, such as his long-shot goal against Sevilla, or... something else I’m not recalling at the moment. While you may be sad to see him go, you will always have those memories. Also, be sure to remember that nothing lasts forever, and like everything else his time with BVB was destined to be fleeting; Dahoud’s departure is but one more domino to fall to the inevitable march of time, and it is yet another reminder that we are all dust, and to dust we will return.

Thanks for reading!