Borussia Dortmund just announced the signings of two players, Jadon Sancho and Ian Maatsen. Both are on short six-month-long loans until the end of the campaign and neither deal has an option or obligation to purchase the player’s contract. Some fans see the return of Sancho and the introduction of Maatsen as a great thing; a chance to rearm an underequipped side and push towards both UCL qualification and, for the most optimistic of fans, even trophies. While they are not permanent pieces and there is no economic return on their signings, this is offset by the potential economic benefits of Dortmund’s success for the remainder of the season.
Other fans argue the contrary. Dortmund’s six-month loans may or may not provide some benefit for the proceeding six months but they are most certainly bad for the overall well-being of the club’s long-term health. Not only do they present financial challenges but they also impact the development of players already at the club or prevent the club from fully investing in long-term replacements.
Two Fear The Wall writers, Patrick Morrison and Anders Meincke, make their cases.
Patrick Morrison: Why Dortmund’s Six-Month Loans Are Great for the Club
There are three reasons I think these two loans are fantastic for the club. The first is from a sporting perspective and the next two are from a financial perspective.
We’ll start with the sporting perspective first - Borussia Dortmund are bad right now. Six teams in the Bundesliga are outscoring them and five teams have better defensive records. They have taken just 13% of points (2 of 15) from the Bundesliga’s other top five teams and are six points outside of the Champions League. On top of that, the team’s best fullback is Julian Ryerson who is, at best, a fantastic squad player but far from Bundesliga-winning caliber and the side is one injury to Julian Brandt away from being completely toothless in attack.
Jadon Sancho and Ian Maatsen fix some of these issues. In Jadon Sancho, Dortmund sees the return of one of the Bundesliga’s best ball progressors and creators ever. While his form at Manchester United might scare some people, last season saw him put up 4.64 shot-creating actions, 0.49 xG+xA, and 2.14 passes into the opponent's penalty area per 90 minutes. If you compare those with Dortmund players this year, he would be placed 3rd, 5th, and 1st respectively. He is going to share the creative burden with Julian Brandt, freeing him up to be better than he has been this season (which is already amazing), and provide Dortmund with another outlet in attack. Sure, there was a six-month period without game time, but he was still training on his own. We have seen players return from six-month-long injuries and get up and running quickly.
Ian Maatsen gives Dortmund the creative and attacking full-back that they have missed since Rapha Guerreiro left the club last season. If you compare his goals, assists, shot-creating actions, tackles, interceptions, and progressive carries from his season at Burnley to Dortmund’s full-backs this year, he ranks first or second in every category. His goals + assists per minute are more than Marius Wolf, Thomas Meunier, and Ramy Bensebaini combined. He should immediately slot into the side as Dortmund’s best full-back and will provide much-needed cover while Thomas Meunier is Dortmund’s only fit and present full-back.
Dortmund are getting two great players but that brings up my next point; these deals are financially low-risk and well within Dortmund’s ability. The rumored price for these two players is between 6 million to 10 million euros for six months. For comparison, Dortmund will be spending 11 million euros on Sebastién Haller and Niklas Süle during that same period. If you want to argue that Dortmund should have gone out and bought a player, then we can compare it to Dortmund’s purchase of Julian Ryerson, a squad player on the last six months of his contract with Union Berlin, where Dortmund spent 5 million euros on the initial fee and a further 1 million euros on his salary over six months. Julian Duranville, an established youngster with high potential, cost Dortmund 8 million euros. If Dortmund had a budget of 10 million euros, the only way to bring in two Champions League-caliber players is through short-term loans.
Hopefully, I have established that Dortmund are getting two great players for very cheap on six-month deals but I understand the concern - why invest in short-term solutions that Dortmund have little chance of acquiring in the long run instead of relying on youth or a cheap but permanent answer? The answer is simple yet important: these next six months will be one of the most financially important periods for the club in recent memory. This is because of the Champions League and the Club World Cup. In the 2023/24 Champions League, Dortmund have accumulated 15.4 million euros for reaching the group stage and 9.6 million euros for reaching the Round of 16. If Dortmund can continue to advance, 10 million euros or higher are given to the club for each round. I do not expect Dortmund to win the whole thing but, if Maatsen and Sancho are the difference-makers against PSV, then they have already paid for themselves.
In terms of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, UEFA are changing the format and are promising more revenue for themselves and their clubs than ever before. While there are no official values for the prize pool, we can count on next season’s Champions League being the most lucrative ever. At least another 20 million euros are at stake for Dortmund and the club has to do everything they can to to qualify.
As for the Club World Cup, FIFA have recently reformated what the competition looks like. The new format takes place in 2025 and will contain twelve UEFA teams with eight of these being qualified based on a team’s coefficient/s between the 2020/2021 and the 2023/24 seasons. Additionally, each league can only field two teams. In Germany, Bayern Munich have 105 points, Dortmund have 65 points, and Leipzig have 61 points. What this means for Dortmund is that they have some leeway but if Leizpig manages to progress further than Dortmund in this year’s edition of the tournament, then there is a chance that Leipzig will be Germany’s second qualifying team. There is no exact amount of what the CWC’s prize money is but there is currently an absurd rumor of 50 million euros for each team that qualifies. While I doubt the number is that high, there will likely be a substantial pool of money for an official 32-team event.
While there is no sell-on value for either loan deal, Dortmund is not investing in a substantial transfer free and is instead paying fair salaries for two key players who could help the club reach its goals and guarantee further success, both on the field and financially. Within minimal resources available, Jadon Sancho and Ian Maatsen’s arrivals at the club are two of the best deals that could have been made and I am excited to see how these six-month loans play out.
Anders Meincke: Why Dortmund’s Six-Month Loans are Detrimental to the Club
Writer’s note: I absolutely love having Sancho back, and I have probably never rooted more for a returnee to succeed at the club. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I think it’s a good piece of business.
It’s actually pretty simple why I’m mainly against these two deals. I simply don’t think the risk outweighs the potential reward. Let’s start with Jadon Sancho. He has played just 76 minutes this season, and based on that, he’s probably nowhere near match fit. I think we can reasonably expect a good month or two to pass before we see Sancho fit for full matches, and by that point, there will only be four or five months left of the deal. Sancho’s potential impact is already limited from the beginning, and we simply can’t afford to wait as we’re currently fighting for our lives for a top-four spot. From a squad planning standpoint, I also see this as quite a headscratcher, because someone (Malen, Adeyemi, Reyna etc.) will have to be somewhat or fully sacrificed if Sancho is to play any meaningful amount of minutes. I get there’s an argument that it’s only four million euros, but we’re essentially paying four million euros to halt the development of current players and bet on a potentially good player. There are only two ways I see this being a feasible deal in the end for BVB. Either Sancho contributes directly to Dortmund finishing in the top four, or Kehl has secretly struck some hidden agreement which means that Dortmund have a chance to acquire Sancho in the summer (which would seem nuts given Sancho’s astronomical wages).
I’m more in favor of the Maatsen deal, but I still very much have my reservations. Maatsen does fill a position that is currently very thin within the squad, and I do think his profile suits the team better than Bensebaini’s. With that said, it has been widely reported that Maatsen has signed a new deal with Chelsea before departing to Westfalen on loan. The deal includes a release clause, which BVB have a priority to trigger, should they want to buy Maatsen after his loan spell. Now that’s all good, but I highly doubt that Dortmund would ever trigger the clause. We don’t exactly know what the clause is, but we know that Chelsea rejected a 30 million euro bid from Burnley in the summer. Some reports have even suggested that Chelsea wanted north of 40 million euros if Dortmund were to have a buy option in the summer. Therefore, I don’t think it’s a long shot to assume that the clause is above 30 million euros—an amount that Dortmund would simply never pay for a fullback.
Based on the players' values and salaries, I think I can reasonably conclude that Dortmund are not going to have both Maatsen and Sancho in their squad going into next season and that the chance of landing even one of them is basically non-existent. I get that this is a precarious situation, but this short-term thinking can be the beginning of a downfall if they don’t work out. We have now acquired two assets this transfer window, and in no way are we in control of any of them. If this club is to rebuild itself, I think our money is best spent on players who have long-term prospects at the club (we should have called back Tom Rothe).
Let us know what you think below. Will these two loans benefit the club in the short term and long term? What would you have tried to do? Is Anders smarter than Patrick?