This is driving me nuts. Why are Borussia Dortmund so desperate to waste their limited funds on a backup striker?
If you aren’t aware, Borussia Dortmund’s Sebastien Haller is expected to play for the Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) this winter, from mid-January to mid-February. This means he will miss a handful of Bundesliga fixtures, and depending on circumstances, he could also miss matches in the DFB-Pokal and the Champions League Round of 16. In response, Borussia Dortmund are apparently willing to spend up to €10 million, plus wages, on any of a handful of mediocre strikers.
After hearing so much about the club’s finite resources, and the need to sell players if they are to afford Southampton defender Armel Bella-Kotchap, the notion that they would instead splash the cash on a superfluous signing like a backup striker, for the maximum seven games that Haller will be with his national team, is surprising and disturbing.
Here are the five Bundesliga opponents that Dortmund will face during AFCON:
- Darmstadt (A)
- FC Köln (A)
- VfL Bochum (H)
- Heidenheim (A)
- Freiburg (H)
While the Freiburg and Köln matches could be difficult, BVB would still be favored in both, even without Haller, and the Freiburg game is the day before the AFCON final, so Ivory Coast would need to go deep in the tournament for Haller to miss that one. The other three fixtures are against literal relegation candidates, and if BVB are struggling against them, the club has bigger problems than a lack of striker depth.
The only other games that Haller could miss are maybe a DFB-Pokal match and maybe maybe maybe a single Champions League Round of 16 match. With regards to the latter, the Champions League Round of 16 is scheduled to begin on February 13th, two days after the AFCON final on the 11th. For there to be a conflict, Dortmund would have to make it that far in the tournament and for their tie to be scheduled for the first week of the knockout stages AND Haller would have to play in the final of the African Cup of Nations, none of which is guaranteed.
It’s not like Dortmund don’t have options in their squad already. Youssoufa Moukoko is fine as a backup. In a pinch, Donyell Malen can do a job as well. Maybe neither option is perfectly ideal, but a) I’m not convinced any of the names floated as replacements are any better, and b) there really is no reason to panic when you consider that it is five freaking games, seven at the absolute maximum!
For a club that is apparently ludicrously tight on cash, blowing up to €10 million on a striker like Yussuf Poulsen or Mergim Berisha, both of whom are at best serviceable backups, makes no sense. Whoever is responsible for pushing this idea (multiple reports say it is Terzic) needs to get their act together. BVB have multiple other priorities that need addressing before they consider spending so much of their limited remaining funds on a striker, to help them win five extremely winnable games. At least the recently-linked Niclas Füllkrug is a decent player that could be a useful member of BVB’s squad, even once Haller returns. The rest are truly baffling.
Anyway, that’s my rant. What do you think? Do Dortmund really need a backup striker for AFCON?