Many probably associate Borussia Dortmund with club legend Marco Reus, who is set to extend his contract with the Black-and-Yellows until the end of next season. Marco’s certainly a legend within the ranks of BVB, no question about that, but there’s another player whose loyalty I feel has gone a bit more under the radar.
Raphael Guerreiro has been with BVB for 6 years, 9 months and 10 days. This makes him the 50th longest serving player in the entire league and the 17th longest serving non-German player in the league. Out of 517 active players across the Bundesliga, that is quite impressive. Not only is Rapha a loyal solider — he is also a formidable footballer. Since arriving from FC Lorient for 12 million euros (!) in 2016, Rapha has established himself as one of the most technically-gifted players in not only Germany, but the entire world. He made the left-back-role at BVB his own, and has delivered moment after moment of magic for all BVB-fans to enjoy. On an international level, Rapha has racked up 63 appearances for the Portuguese national team. Quite impressive, eh?
While at Dortmund, Rapha has always been known for certain things, including his masterful link-up play, his immaculate shooting and passing, and his ability to operate in tight spaces. While technically being a left back, the BVB fanbase has grown accustomed to the fact that Rapha plays more as a left midfielder in practice. In return for a lack of defensive contributions, the board and various coaches have grown to expect consistent offensive output from the Portuguese international throughout the years. Rapha’s sharp, offensive edge even earned him a part-time-role as a midfielder under Thomas Tuchel.
When Edin Terzic was first appointed manager ahead of the 22/23 season, one of the first things on his agenda was to stabilize Dortmund’s defense, which had been leaking goals for quite some time time. The acquisitions of Niklas Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck obviously helped on their own, but in the prior season, Dortmund fans got to see what Rapha doesn’t do on the pitch nearly as well — defend. Dortmund’s left side was overrun by basically any opponent, and the main reason for this was that Rapha mainly found himself as a part of the attack. This meant that Mats Hummels really had his work cut out for him. Normally this would be fine. In the past, Guerreiro’s technical ability often kept hold of the ball, and as a result, the opposition could only attack in small bursts, which the team could handle. But Guerreiro simply didn’t seem to... be as good? He gave aways balls cheaply, and he had seemingly lost his ability to link up with whoever joined him on the left side.
Fast forward to the start of this season, where a similar trend continued. Even I have been very doubtful about Guerreiro’s continuation on the BVB-shirt, and when the board pulled the trigger to sign Bensebaini halfway through his season, I was sure that Guerreiro’s time in Dortmund was up. On the 4th of February 2023, Guerreiro seemingly decided to somewhat rescue his own career by bagging a hat trick of assists against Freiburg. Rapha has now accumulated 9 assists and 2 goals in his last 11 outings for BVB. He has been very successful in the midfield role Terzic gave him when Brandt and Reus have been missing.
I really don’t know if the board is gonna extend Rapha, but I really hope they do. Apparently, the board have not yet offered him a contract extension, and his future at the club seems a bit up in the air. I think the club should consider it, because so many people forget just how good he is. He is obviously one of the best players in the entire BVB-squad. I think he has been scapegoated a bit (and yes — I do acknowledge that he has been very bad at times), but the entire team was dysfunctional for major stretches under Marco Rose. While Rapha isn’t young anymore (29), he certainly isn’t old either. He has made it clear that he loves the club, the city and the fans, and that his family is very happy in Dortmund. And when clubs like FC Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain have been knocking on Rapha’s door with offers, he has turned them down. We really don’t appreciate this enough. For a player this good, who loves to play for the club, an extension should honestly be a no-brainer, or is that just me?
No matter what happens, the Portuguese creator will always remain one of my favorite BVB-players of all time — and maybe he’s yours too?
Let me know what you think about Rapha in the comments below! Do you think we underappreciate him as well? Should he just leave or try and be fitted into the midfield or another advanced role? Let me know in the comments below!