Borussia Dortmund General Manager Hans-Joachim Watzke has come out in the last few hours stating that the club will be strengthening their squad with “considerable investment” this summer after the probable sale of star striker Robert Lewandowski and the possible sale of Mats Hummels to Barcelona.
However, whilst many will affirm that Hummels’ sale would be a lot more detrimental to the team than that of the Polish striker and that Dortmund won’t sell two of its stars in the same summer, the striker replacement has to be a main priority. There is a growing sense that Julian Schieber is not the man to replace the former Lech Poznan striker and that Dortmund will have to delve into the transfer market to find a suitable replacement. Many names have been thrown into the hat, of which here are 5 that are among the most likely candidates:
Mame Biram Diouf – Hannover 96
The Senegalese striker has been a coup signing for Mirko Slomka’s side since arriving from Manchester United just over 12 months ago for a fee reported to be in the region of 1.75m€. Having notched 10 goals in 15 appearances in his first season and 15 goals in 27 appearances so far this season, Diouf has definitely not gone unnoticed (as evidenced by the growing sales of his Prostar shirt) and there’s no doubt that he’s currently one of the hottest properties in the league.
Pros: Diouf is still young at 25 years of age but has got Bundesliga experience. His goal tally is impressive and he’s a fast player, which no doubt would fit in with Dortmund’s fast style of play, making him, Reus, Kuba and Götze a lethal and fast attacking quartet. Also his price wouldn’t be prohibitive. Valued at 7.5m€ by Transfermarkt, Hannover would be looking to make around 10m€ for their star striker. Also, with his contract running out in June 2014, Hannover might want to cash in before it’s too late.
Cons: Diouf came to Manchester United with a lot of promise from Norwegian side FK Molde but failed to make an impression at Old Trafford. True, he wasn’t given many chances by Sir Alex Ferguson but perhaps that was due of his inability to cope with the pressure that comes when playing for a big club. Whether he could handle the pressure of being the main attacking man for a big club like Dortmund is perhaps one of the few cons in Diouf’s potential transfer.
Edin Džeko – Manchester City
The Bosnian international needs no introduction to Bundesliga fans after firing Wolfsburg to a league title in 2008 partnering Brazilian Grafite in attack. His time at Manchester City hasn’t been as successful on a personal level as he would have liked due to the amount of competition he has up front, and Džeko has already hinted at a possible return to the Bundesliga in the near future, as it seems that City would be happy to cash in for the player if the right offer came in.
Pros: His goalscoring record in Germany is excellent and he is no doubt a guarantee for any team he plays in. He has enjoyed a good season so far scoring 13 goals so far this season in all competitions despite coming off the bench often but with Manchester City being a club with a busy revolving door and with strong rumours that they will strengthen their strikeforce this summer, they could let Džeko go at a cut price. Out of all the possible candidates, Džeko would definitely be the strongest in terms of ability and reliability to replace Lewandowski.
Cons: The price. Džeko is valued at around 25m€ and the transfer fee wouldn’t be too far away from that number, perhaps closer to 20m€. Still, it’s a considerable outlay for Dortmund that would also be increased by his high wages. Earning 6.5m€ per year, Dzeko would want a figure not far from that, which is considerably higher than what his teammates are currently earning, and it might prove a disrupting point for the club’s wage structure.
Ádám Szalai – 1. FSV Mainz
The Hungarian striker has been enjoying an excellent season at Mainz this year on a personal and collective level, with Thomas Tuchel’s men excelling expectations and finding themselves within touching distance of European places. Szalai has collected 12 goals in the Bundesliga so far this season and another brace in the Pokal, making him one of the league’s top scorers ahead of other more established and prolific strikers.
Pros: Szalai is coming into form and into maturity at the age of 25. His goals this season have been a huge part of Mainz’s success and he could be looking to make the most of his form and push for a move to a bigger club in the summer. At 1.93 metres tall, Szalai provides excellent aerial skills and is also composed in front of goal. His form in the Rückrunde will definitely shape his chances for a move this summer.
Cons: His style isn’t really what Borussia Dortmund are looking for. Whilst Lewandowski is by no means a small striker, his quick movements make him fit perfectly with the skills of the teammates around him and whilst it would be wrong to compare the stature of both players, it seems like Szalai’s abilities are different to Lewandowski’s. Also, one can’t help but feel that a transfer to Dortmund might be a step too far too soon for Szalai and that maybe he would need to prove himself a little longer since this has been his most successful season so far, notching only four goals last season.
Stefan Kießling – Bayer Leverkusen
Kießling has been Leverkusen’s main man this season and they now sit only one point behind Borussia Dortmund in the league at the time of writing. His 16 Bundesliga goals this season see him sit top of the scorer’s chart equal with Lewandowski himself and his goals have been instrumental to Leverkusen’s fortunes this year.
Pros: Kießling is a sure bet. His movements in the opponent’s half are excellent and he can drop to channels if needed to bring other players behind him into play. He is also a tall player and has good aerial skills that complement his slick finishing. Being a Bundesliga top scorer at any stage in the Rückrunde should warrant interest from any of the best clubs in the world, and whilst it’s not Dortmund’s style to do a ‘Bayern’ and strengthen themselves by weakening the opposition, Kießling is one of the most attractive options out there.
Cons: Precisely, one of the biggest cons in this transfer would be the fact that he plays for Leverkusen and whether he’d like to move to one of the team’s main rivals in the league. The price would also be considerable, between 15 and 20m€ and such an outlay for a player who is 29 years old could be a bit of a deal breaker.
Christian Benteke – Aston Villa
Benteke has been a revelation this season in a poor Aston Villa side. Having arrived only last summer from KRC Genk for a substantial fee of around 8.5m€, the Belgian striker has impressed everyone in the Premier League with his powerful play, aerial abilities and excellent finishing. Averaging a goal every other game for Aston Villa this season, his 15 goals and 3 more in 5 games for Genk in August leave no doubt as to Benteke’s talents.
Pros: Aston Villa currently sit in the relegation places of the Premier League and whilst relegation is by no means a certainty, it will be a narrow escape if they do manage to stay up. Benteke has already been touted as a signing for some of the biggest names in the game and there’s no doubt he will press for a move if the big clubs come piling in for his signature in June. He would definitely be a cheaper option that Kießling and Džeko and his price would be significantly reduced if Villa were to be relegated. At only 22 years of age, Benteke would still have years ahead of him to improve but with all the service he could get at Dortmund, compared to the one he currently has at Aston Villa, along with his playing characteristics, Benteke could be a very shrewd signing for Jürgen Klopp’s side.
Cons: Inexperience could be a negative issue for Benteke. Whilst he’s proved himself so far in the Premier League this season, he’s still a young player getting accustomed to the limelight and whilst Aston Villa are a big club in England, stepping up to Dortmund would be playing for an even bigger club. Whether he is mature enough to lead the line for them remains a question mark but all the signs indicate that his pros definitely outweigh his cons.
Other names in the mix: Bafetimbi Gomis (Olympique Lyonnais), Heung-Min Son (HSV), Henrik Mkhtiaryan (Shakhtar Donetsk), Mohammed Abdellaoue (Hannover 96).