Transfer Grades: Sven Bender – Borussia Dortmund & Bayer Leverkusen

In a new series for the Bundesliga Fanatic, we present to you, transfer grades. A series where a transfer move gets dissected from each team’s point of view, with a proper grading method.

In our last piece, we covered Bastian Oczipka’s €4.5m move to Ruhr giants FC Schalke 04 here.

This time, it’s all about the Bender Brothers!

What a surprise!


The fact that either of Borussia Dortmund or Bayer Leverkusen making a move for the other Bender, ever since they fell apart from 1860 Munich was, somewhat, inevitable. It was just a question of who acts first.

Finally, it was the medicine giants, who made the move for Sven, who will join his twin brother Lars at Leverkusen next season for a reported fee of €15m.

Sven Wanted to Leave

Sven Bender admittedly said, “Only a few days ago, I approached [CEO] Aki Watzke and Sporting Director Michael Zorc to ask a personal favor. After eight years, I wanted them to grant me a new challenge.” – In the official BVB website.

He also appreciated Dortmund’s decision to “respect his will” despite their initial wish to keep the player. As Watzke pointed out in a lengthy statement, “To be honest, if it had not been ‘Manni’ with his BVB career, expressing this wish, we would have never said yes”. Zorc also added that the club is losing a “real leader” on and off the pitch.

I’m pretty sure most of the Dortmund fans would agree as well.

Leverkusen’s Rudi Völler and new coach Heiko Herrlich weren’t shy of praises for the defender either. ESPN’s Stefan Uersfeld, points them out in this article.

So let’s head back to the essence of our article, and configure how did the move pan out for both the sides.

Borussia Dortmund: A

It might not be the most favorable move for most of the fans, for whom, Sven Bender was nothing short of a club hero (including me). But one can’t deny the fact that Dortmund board have hit straight A’s by shipping Bender for a reported fee of €15m! Just to put thing into perspective, Die Schwarzgelben secured the signature of young French starlet Ousmane Dembele for the same amount(!) last summer.

So what did BVB lose by the departure of one of their most committed players in the recent decade?

Well, other than the lost sentiments of fans, nothing really.

In pure sporting perspectives, the move made every bit of sense for the Black and Yellows. Sven Bender’s best days are well past him. The good ol’ days when he used to make Luka Modric look like the bad version of Hakan Calhanoglu(A moment of silence for Milan fans) or gave his heart out and ran his socks off just to prevent the opposition out from scoring. For me personally, when I was a kid, Sven “Manni” Bender was no short of a hero in midfield. The one I could always rely on.

“The times, they are a’changin’”

Made no mistake, Sven Bender was the definition of a proper, combatant midfielder. His contribution in BVB’s title winning seasons in 2011 and 2012 was pivotal indeed. Leaking relentless blood wouldn’t worry Bender as much as a player getting past him would do. But the times, well, they have changed.

Even though Borussia Dortmund’s defense is not really the best at the moment. And surely not when you can concede three goals to Regionalliga teams, as they had recently done against Rot Weiss Essen in a pre-season friendly(Quite astonishingly, it was also Peter Bosz’s first game as head coach!), Bender’s departure isn’t something the fans should worry about.

Peter Bosz will look to tie down his defense, before the season starts. He will have the services of Sokratis, who is already one of league’s best defenders, along with Marc Bartra and former Leverkusen defender Ömer Toprak. New signing Dan-Axel Zagadou has somewhat impressed the fans in his first friendly outing, he’ll remain a key option for the defense. Neven Subotic is for the time being still a Dortmund player….

Sure, BVB could have fancied more depth in the defensive department, especially if they are not looking to splash any more cash in the transfer market. But that depth isn’t necessarily needed from Sven Bender, whose injury history is something Leverkusen should be aware of.

Due to injuries, Bender could only play 58% of Bundesliga matches since 2009(158 out of 272). Unfortunate isn’t he?

Secondly, Sven Bender is grown to be a little slow and untidy in possession and is now more or less used as a CB. Something which won’t go well with Peter Bosz and his possession based football and high-octane pressing. So it does actually make complete sense as to why Dortmund released Bender. (Even though that’s not what they wanted to do)

If they didn’t suffer from the loss of Bender, what did BVB actually gain from the transfer?

Truth be told, nothing either(Oh! the cash of course!)

In fact, Borussia Dortmund now have the task of replacing two departing defenders in Matthias Ginter and Sven Bender. And considering how competitive the market is these days, it’s really hard to find a good player for a cheap price these days. But according to my colleague and friend Aidan Reagh, these three players can surely be a good alternative to aforementioned defenders.

Bayer Leverkusen: B

Nobody could have really predicted Bayer Leverkusen’s move for Sven Bender. There was not even a single speculation prior to the transfer by any media outlet, as is the norm these days. Nevertheless, Sven Bender’s acquisition doesn’t really seem to be a top signing for Die Werkself.

The entire transfer move will solely depend on as to how Leverkusen makes use of the former German International. Currently, they have Dominik Kohr, Lars Bender, Julian Baumgartlinger as the three central defensive midfielders. Pretty much all of them are tough tackling midfielders. Given, Baumgartlinger is completely written out of the script, it will be between the two Bender brothers and Dominik Kohr to battle it out for the CDM positions.

One good thing about Sven Bender is that he can provide cover for the central defensive positions. Ömer Toprak has left the club for Dortmund and Tin Jedvaj has suffered an early injury, which might pave the way for Bender in the Leverkusen starting XI.

The 28-year-old might partner alongside either of Jonathan Tah or Aleksander Dragovic in central defense, And both are presumably bad, especially the Austrian. So, the Bundesliga giants shouldn’t necessarily be expecting top-notch performances from Sven Bender. Ultimately, it’s all about replacing Ömer Toprak in the center.

Here’s how the Leverkusen lineup may look like with the addition of Sven Bender next season.

I mean, what kind of world do we live in?

Leverkusen sold Toprak(provided he was into his last year on his contract) for €12m and bought Bender for €15m? Kudos!

To Dortmund of course.


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Bundesliga connoisseur and writer at Bundesliga Fanatic. Also a Bundesliga correspondent for The4thOfficial. In love with the Bundesliga since birth. Big fan of TwentyOnePilots and basically every other teen stuff(Star Wars not included). Still waiting for my man Milos Raonic to win a Grand Slam. Come to my house and we will watch Netflix and eat Nutella. lol just kidding. Follow me on Twitter @CoverShadow09

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