The ‘silly season’ of transfer news and rumors is already in full swing with a number of big transfers potentially arriving and leaving the Bundesliga. At the start of what looks to be one of their busiest transfer windows in recent memory, Borussia Dortmund have brought in no less than six first team signings and have sold 2 of their anchors in (former) captain Mats Hummels and midfield genius İlkay Gündoğan. And with the inevitable departures of fan favourites Neven Subotic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan being constantly reported, it seems like that the work of the transfer committee at Dortmund is far from over. Even with the mass of players brought in thus far, there are still areas in which Dortmund need to strengthen in order to adequately compete in three competitions.
Dortmund have been in the market for a top striker ever since Robert Lewandowski transferred to Bayern and barring the brilliant Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, all the other forwards who have been brought in have underwhelmed. With Adrian Ramos now 30 years old and a switch to the lucrative Chinese league looking more and more possible, 22 year-old Michy Batshuayi could be the perfect replacement for the departing Colombian.
The Brussels born striker has been on the radar of dozens of Premier League clubs, especially Chelsea, and for good measure. Quick, strong and good finisher on both feet, it is not too far-fetched to say that he could go on to dominate for years to come. Breaking into the Standard Liege first team at the tender age of 17, he soon became a mainstay in their matchday squad and went on to score 44 goals in a 120 appearances for the Belgian outfit. After a six million Euro move to Olympique Marseille, he continued to show his prowess, scoring and assisting 23 and 10 respectively in the 2015/2016 season.
Capable of playing upfront or on the right wing ala Aubameyang, his arrival could be the much-needed assurance that the goals will continue to flow even if the electric Gabonese does decide to depart. Since being picked to represent the Belgian National team at the European Championships, his value is likely to skyrocket but sources suggest he could be available for around €30million. Though his potential is undoubted, the real question is will Hans Joachim Watzke and co. be ready to break their transfer record to bring Batshuayi to the Westfalenstadion?
Let’s face it, ousting players like Luka Modric and Toni Kroos for a central midfield spot is a near impossible task for any 22-year-old. Now Kovacic has the displeasure of joining Isco, James Rodriguez, and Aiser Illaramendi as talented youngsters who signed for Real Madrid but who couldn’t secure enough minutes on the pitch. After transferring to Inter Milan following three successful seasons with Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia, Real Madrid seemed to be the next step to eventual stardom. But after an unfruitful year, it looks like his time is up at the Spanish capital and a move elsewhere would be in his best interest. His most prolific season came in 2014/2015 when he tallied eight goals and assisted five as a 20-year-old.
Comfortable in a central midfield or an attacking midfield position and blessed with a low centre of gravity, a creative passing range and a good work rate, Kovacic has all the tools to be İlkay Gündoğan’s heir at Dortmund. However, it is being reported that AS Roma are interested in his services and that he too, would like a return to the Serie A. Nevertheless, if Dortmund are willing to part with the rumoured €25 million that would take Real Madrid to let him go, then the prospect of Julian Weigl and Mateo Kovacic playing alongside each other is truly mouth-watering indeed.
Moving from Bayern Munich to Inter Milan and then to Stoke City is not the usual route which football players take, but with Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben in front of him in the pecking order at Bayern and not being a part of Roberto Mancini’s plans at Inter, he had little choice but to join the Premier League club.
But now, having becoming the focal point of Stoke City’s attack, he has started to gain confidence and form which he has carried into the Euros. Very few players are as two-footed and creative as Henrik Mkhitariyan but thankfully for Dortmund, Shaqiri is one of them. Although he has just scored three goals with six assists last season, his tally would have been a lot higher if his teammates at Stoke City, like Marko Arnautović, were more clinical.
Obviously wanting to get back to playing in the Champions League and also having stated that he would like to return to the Bundesliga, it seems that Shaqiri would be the perfect fit to replace Dortmund’s Armenian international if he does indeed depart this summer. But having joined Stoke City only last summer for €17 million, they would not be all that eager to lose their star man on the cheap. Still only 24 years old, could this Swiss international be Dortmund’s new attacking magician?
Questions abound concerning Dortmund’s upcoming season. Tuchel placed BvB back on course in his debut as Dortmund coach last season, but already has the daunting task of in configuring a new starting XI with Hummels and Gündoğan now gone, Mkhitaryan and Subotic possibly leaving while working in six new players, of whom only one, Sebastian Rode, has ever played Bundesliga football before. If reports of the departure of Mkhitaryan and Subotic do prove true, Dortmund should use the resulting transfer fees to invest in Batshuayi, Kovacic and Shaqiri to insure a surplus of quality talent needed to compete successfully in three competitions in the upcoming campaign.
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