Three Possible Replacements for İlkay Gündoğan at Borussia Dortmund

‘You cannot stop travellers but just wave and let them pass through’. This is the sad truth we have to accept for most footballers, and indeed, professional athletes in general. This is a life which one can only pursue for so many years and, except for the beloved few, you have to do whatever needs to be done for your family and career.

İlkay Gündoğan is someone who comes off as a pragmatist (and not to mention a brilliant player) and no one can really cast blame upon him concerning his wishes to part ways with the Borussia Dortmund. Signed from Nürnberg in 2011, the native of Gelsenkirchen quickly lit the world up with his confident dribbling, unbelievable range of passing and outstanding stamina. A true modern central midfielder in all senses of the word, it is no wonder there is speculation that the 25 year-old will join up with Pep Guardiola at his latest pet project, Manchester City. Once again, Dortmund’s ability to replace anyone will be tested to its limit.

Maximillian Arnold – VfL Wolfsburg

With the tidal wave of names being linked to Dortmund this summer, Maxi Arnold’s has seemed to have eluded everyone’s tongues. Capable of playing in a central role or even further forward, Arnold would seem to tick all the right boxes for the archetypal midfielder. Smart in possession, creative moving forward and also possessing that undying stamina that ‘Dortmunders’ love, he would definitely fit into Tuchel’s possession-based system.

However, still at only 21 years of age and having already amassed 121 career appearances for the Wolfsburg first team, he is undoubtedly one of Dieter Hecking’s crown jewels and will be ready to fight tooth and nail to keep him. With the financial backing from Volkswagen, Arnold will not have any other motive to switch clubs other than a sporting one. As Wolfsburg are likely to miss out on European football next season, Dortmund do have a chance for Arnold only if they act decisively and with intent. With the player probably going to cost in the range of 30 million, it will have to be seen if whether Dortmund are finally ready to break the bank for a marquee signing.

Oliver Torres – Atletico Madrid

Oliver Torres
Oliver Torres

A player that could have been wearing black and yellow back in January but due to a price disagreement between the two clubs, Oliver Torres, for now still wears the red and white of Los Rojiblancos. Touted as the next Andres Iniesta, it is easy to see why that comparison has been made, even if such claims have to be taken with a grain of salt when a youngster is compared to one of the greats of our era.. With an innate passing ability and ‘Messi-like’ vision, Torres could more than substitute Gündoğan’s playmaking abilities but his dogged defensive work rate is another question. One the reasons Diego Simeone refuses to play Torres in his natural position is because of his defensive shortcomings and that is something that Simeone can’t afford to have in his team. Thomas Tuchel, on the other hand, is much more flexible in his setup, and could be ready to change his team to accommodate someone with the ceiling that Torres possesses.

After enjoying a stellar season while on loan with Porto the year before and having been handed the coveted no.10 shirt by the club, the 21 year-old has made nine La Liga starts for Atletico this season, and been brought on as a sub in 12 other matches. Previously reported to being available for 24 million, Torres’s acquisition could be the deal of the century or a rare transfer flop for the Schwarzeglben.

Mahmoud Dahoud – Borussia Mönchengladbach

If there hadn’t been a certain Julian Weigl stealing some of the limelight, Dahoud’s exploits would be even more celebrated than they already are. Capable of making a crunching tackle and setting forward free in a single movement, it is understandable why Dortmund fans view him as Gündoğan’s heir apparent. Even though he is undeniably talented and that the duo of Weigl and Dahoud is certainly mouth-watering, the real question is will Mönchengladbach be willing to give him up after just a season?

With Granit Xhaka supposedly headed for the exit door, a Dahoud transfer remains unlikely until enormous fees start to be thrown around for a largely unproven player.
Having just turned 20 and already with 5 goals and 9 assists in just 42 first team appearances, could this 5’9’’ midfield magician take the fast lane to Bundesliga Supremacy?

Other options

Marc Stendera- Promising young player but his world-class potential is in question. He has had a rather ho-hum season and might benefit by staying in Frankfurt and plying his trade until he is worthy of a bigger move.

Kevin Kampl – Burst on the scene at Bayer Leverkusen after a slow 6 months with Dortmund and really shined after being switched to a deep, playmaking role until he was side-lined with a leg injury. However, it is doubtful he would want to re-sign with Dortmund after securing a key role at Leverkusen.

Leon Goretzka – Although Schalke and Dortmund fans will look away in disgust, Goretzka is exactly the type of player Dortmund need. His huge potential and all-round abilities make him ideal. If there is a deal, however unlikely, it should be made.

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Noel Shallum is a student living in Sharjah, UAE. His love for football spans a decade amd he found his 'echte liebe' in Dortmund. Would love to learn German someday.