This has been a monumental week for a team that is coming off a stunning collapse. No, this isn’t another Game of Thrones column, but a look at a Bundesliga team that staging its own attempt to usurp the throne from Bayern Munich: Borussia Dortmund.
After a second-half meltdown, Borussia Dortmund let the Bundesliga crown slip from its grasp. But before the transfer window has even opened, Dortmund has already made three major signings this week to bolster its roster. The signings seem to set the stage for a true Clash of the Titans next season in Germany.
First, BVB scooped up Hoffenheim’s Nico Schulz to bolster its flanks. While there are questions about how Lucien Favre will deploy the 26-year-old, there is no denying his talent and aggression. Schulz brings a fire and technical skill-set to the defensive flanks that could prove to be lethal for Dortmund. Schulz scored two goals and provided seven assists in 37 games across competitions this season, and he has established himself as a regular starter on the German national team.
Next, BVB has secured Borussia Mönchengladbach forward Thorgan Hazard, who possesses the flexibility to be deployed outside as a winger or centrally as an attacking midfielder. Hazard has pace, skill, creativity, and a nose for the goal. As Hazard went this season, so did Die Fohlen: he had a phenomenal Hinrunde in leading the Foals to a fantastic start, before trailing off in the second half of the season once rumors about his future with M’Gladbach began to swirl. As Hazard’s production trailed off, the team suffered mightily. Still, the 26-year-old tallied 13 goals and 12 assists in 35 games across competitions this season.
The prospect that Favre might roll out any combination of the following players should rightly cause concern for the entire Bundesliga: Hazard, Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho, Mario Götze, Paco Alcacer, and Jacob Bruun-Larsen will give the rest of the league ample reason to proceed with caution. But that’s not all.
All of that brings us to the next player, who might make the biggest impact of all the new signees. Bayer Leverkusen forward Julian Brandt made his signing official today, completing what has been a remarkable week for Dortmund. Brandt’s ability to play on the wings or centrally give Dortmund a fantastic compliment to Reus and a direct replacement for newly-minted Chelsea-man Christian Pulisic.
Strong fortnite opponent, amazing footballer and an even better friend! Thank you for everything and all the best on your way, bro! ❤ pic.twitter.com/05eOspc2N6— Kai Havertz (@kaihavertz29) May 22, 2019
Brandt racked up 10 goals and 17 assist in 43 games across competitions this season, but more importantly, he has shown the phenomenal skill and talent that made him such a hot prospect.
Make no mistake, these moves were all made in an effort to ensure there will be no second-half unraveling next season.
BVB managed to add three supreme talents for an estimated total of €75m. This was both a financial and managerial win for the Black and Yellows. While Bayern’s roster is certainly star-studded and there is inevitably more to come from the Bavarians during the upcoming transfer window, the excitement about the title chase next season in the Bundesliga should absolutely start building right now.
For those who may scoff at the notion that Dortmund could bring all of this together into something sustainable, don’t be naive. BVB has a certified leader in Reus, who the players on the team adore and rally around. They’ve also got Götze, who is playing to prove wrong those who labelled him as a flash in the pan. Combined with the tremendous offensive talent that Dortmund now has, this is a group with frightening potential.
The midfield duo of Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney have enough grit and skill to wreak havoc, while the Roman Bürki is among the most consistent goalkeepers in the Bundesliga. Dortmund’s defense, however, is where most will point to an area there doubts linger. With youth and inexperience still an issue at center-back, Dortmund still won’t a bonafide star at center-back, although players like Abdou Diallo, Dan-Axel Zagadou, and Manuel Akanji all have a high ceiling for growth.
Now the fallout begins. Will Dortmund look to loan out a developing talent like Bruun-Larsen? Will Dortmund seek to capitalize on Sancho’s outstanding season and sell him for a nine-figure sum? Will the BVB front office seek to make any other significant additions that could cause roster shuffling in other areas?
As of now, we don’t know, but it might not matter. Dortmund has already elevated itself with a powerful mix of talent that should give Bayern with its most viable challenger in the last five years.
Bayern, however, is not likely going to rest on its laurels and grow fat Robert Baratheon-style. The Bavarians have already made investments in Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard to bolster the back line with much-needed speed, while Hamburger SV’s Jann-Fiete Arp will arrive to try and prove himself.
There is no doubt, however, that Bayern has only started its own roster overhaul. With so many rumors floating about, there truly is a chance Bayern may “break the roster wheel” — and the bank — to ensure they will not be caught unawares by the next great challenger.