Team Focus – BVB: Is This the End of Borussia Dortmund?

Dortmund have done it again. For the 3rd season in a row, they’ve sold their star player and two of them to their major rivals Bayern Munich. First was Shinji Kagawa to leave Signal Iduna Park who was sold to Manchester United for a disclosed fee of £12m who has had a somewhat turbulent time at The Theatre of Dreams and is linked with a move back to Dortmund. Last season though, BVB proved they didn’t need the Japan international to progress as a team, as they finished 2nd in the Bundesliga and got through to the final of the Champions League which they lost 2-1 to Bayern Munich. Then around 3 weeks before the Champions League final between the two, the shock move of Mario Gotze to Bayern Munich was announced, £31.5m was said the price for the midfielder, then making him the most expensive German player in history (A record that has since been broken by Mesut Özil, who went from Real Madrid to Arsenal for £42.4m). Now this transfer wasn’t a shock at all to the footballing world, it was probably the worst kept secret of 2013; Robert Lewandoski will join Bayern Munich. unusually however, the transfer saga was prolonged after Arsenal had shown interest in the Pole and added further pressure on Bayern to get Robert to sign the dotted line. But the forward will play out the rest of his contract which is till the end of the season before he can go to The Allianz Arena. And now with Manchester United heavily interested in Marko Reus and Real Madrid looking to buy İlkay Gündoğan, Klopp is looking for a tough couple of transfer windows to avoid selling more key players in a short period of time. Now what makes the Lewandoski transfer even more heartbreaking for Jurgen Klopp and the Dortmund faithful is that Lewandoski is leaving on a free transfer, actually giving the club a loss on the player whose market value is around £34.5m (as of 6/1/14) and both Bayern and Real Madrid were willing to spend over £60m on the clinical Pole.

When Lewandoski declined a contract extension after the end of last season and verbally requested a move away from Borussia Dortmund, Klopp and the board of directors convinced Robert to run down his contract before making a move, as he only had 1 year left on his contract. This gave the manager good breathing space in terms of a quality striker for at least one more season. But presumably as a pre-caution, Dortmund bought Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Ligue 1 side Saint-Étienne for £11m. The Gabonese forward had an excellent season upon joining BVB, scoring 19 goals in the league and finished as 2nd top scorer behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Lewandoski and Aubameyang are very different in their style of play as Lewandoski is a more clinical forward who will always make good runs and score, providing the midfield do a good job of pinging the ball to him. He also has one of the most powerful shots in world football and has a right foot that would even make the best keepers tremble in their boots. Aubameyang is much quicker then Lewandoski and is arguably one of the fastest players in football today, on par with Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale and was recently found quicker then Usain Bolt in 30m (Aubameyang clocked a time of 3.7secs and Bolt clocked 3.78secs in his record-breaking sprint in 2009). The former Milan man is very fast and agile, along with skills made to impress. He has already scored 9 goals in the Bundesliga and has 1 assist in 12 starts and 4 substitute appearances and although he may not be the finisher Lewandoski is,he is sure a good replacement for Lewandoski and is only destined for greatness at Dortmund if he carries on the way he is playing.

The club’s morale seems to have taken a dip as well as their form, they have dropped to 4th place and are now 12 points off the pace and the dominant bayern Munich sit on top with 44 points. Although they still have Lewandoski until the end of the season and he is 2nd top scorer this season with 11 goals and have Aubameyang who has 9 goals so these two could form a good partnership this season and try to catch up to Bayern and still be a major team in Germany and Europe. Despite their league performances, Dortmund are through to the round of 16 and have one of the easier draws but as equally as unforgiving in Zenit St. Petersburg who have world-class players such as Hulk and Axel Wistel but last year’s runners-up will be the stronger side and should get to the quarter finals with relative ease. As for the club in the long-term, I wouldn’t be worried. BVB have one of the best home fans in the world and I doubt they’ll suddenly turn their back on Dortmund due to this somewhat frantic selling and it’s not like Signal Iduna Park is a bad place to play, most players would love to play there because of the amazing atmosphere the fans bring to the match. Marko Reus is looking like the most likely to leave Dortmund due to all the interest from big clubs in Europe but he has stated that he is very happy at Borussia Dortmund. But one thing Klopp must to do to not decline is keep the squad happy to play for him and to play for the badge on their shirt, not just for the money they’re getting to wear it.

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