With the opening of the transfer window, clubs will have had their work cut out for them. This is especially true for Borussia Dortmund, last season’s Bundesliga runners-up. The Ruhr Valley side have already seen stalwarts Mats Hummels signing with rival Bayern Munich and İlkay Gündoğan sign with Manchester City. Dortmund have added Emre Mor, Sebastian Rode, Marc Batra and Ousmane Dembele in recent week, but now face losing Hernrik Mkhtaryan to the EPL Lost in all the transfers in and out is the future of 24 year-old defender Erik Durm. After missing the entire 2015/2016 Hinrunde due to knee surgery, Durm had a strange five months to begin 2016
The versatile Durm started 2016 out hot, performing very well against Bayer Leverkusen and FC Ingolstadt. Under Thomas Tuchel, he was at times made to play more of an advanced role as a winger of sorts or a right wingback in a 3-5-2. But as his season progressed, his performances started to dip, so much so that Tuchel decided to take him off at half time in matches against Mainz 05 and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Reviewing the games in which he played, he seemed to be not up to the task of playing Tuchel’s more possession-oriented style as winger or even as a traditional fullback. Misplacing passes in his own half or his lack of comfort with the ball epitomised Dortmund’s blip in the tail end of this campaign. Even though Lukasz Piszczek is the usual starting right back, had Tuchel not had Mathias Ginter on the bench as well, we could have probably seen a new face in the right back department this summer.
So what went wrong for Durm? Initially signed from Mainz 05 as a winger but groomed by Jurgen Klopp as a left back at Dortmund, he made his first appearance in that position on August 10, 2013 in a 4-0 drubbing of FC Augsburg aged just 21. He quickly blossomed into a talent, with his pace and athletic ability on show for the whole country to see. Under Klopp and his intense gegenpressing tactics, Durm’s outstanding stamina made him be picked over Piszczek and was one of the few positives in the 2014-2015 season.
But having missed preseason and the entire Hinrunde due to surgery, he didn’t have the time to get used to the new man at the helm. While players like Henrik Mkhitariyan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang kicked on to stardom under Tuchel, Durm’s late start compounded with his poor form on his return and an eventual exclusion from the Euros 2016 Germany squad for the 2014 World Cup champion.
So does this mean that Durm’s Dortmund career is over? By absolutely no means. Although the former Mainz reservist’s greatest attributes are his speed and stamina, given the right amount of time and training, he too will get used to the way Dortmund play football now. With 77 appearances for BvB in all competitions and Germany senior squad callups, Durm has the experience to know what it takes to be successful at the highest levels of football. His exclusion from the Euros, too, might be a blessing in disguise, as he now can finally have a complete preseason under his belt. His upbringing as a midfielder also would indicate that he can be coached into being a better distributor.
Another strength of Durm’s is his versatility. Comfortable as either fullback, wingback or even on the wings, he will undoubtedly come in handy for Tuchel during the course of the next campaign. Piszczek, now at 31 years of age is in the twilight of his career and a worthy replacement need not brought in from another club while the genius of Durm lies still in the Ruhr valley.
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