The New Rocks of the Ruhr- Schalke’s Salif Sané and Dortmund’s Abdou Diallo

Bundesliga success is often built on a strong defence and if that is the case then both Borussia Dortmund and Schalke have made very astute summer transfer signings by bringing in Salif Sané and Abdou Diallo respectively.

The Königsblauen, who finished as runners-up to champions Bayern Munich, wasted little time in activating a clause in the Senegalese international’s Hannover contract and signed him for a bargain price of just €7 million.

Ruhr rivals Borussia Dortmund have followed suit by bringing highly rated Mainz defender Abdou Diallo to the Signal Iduna Park for a reported €28 million fee- the second highest paid by the Schwarzgelben.

Salif Sané

Picking up one of the Bundesliga’s top performing centre-backs for only €7 million will only confirm Christian Heidel’s reputation as one of Germany’s wiliest managers. Mark Uth has come in to bolster the attack, Omar Mascarell and Suat Serdar have been signed to strengthen the midfield, but perhaps the best signing thus far at the Veltins Arena has been that of Sané.

The 27-year-old Sané was a busy man last season at Hannover, and his quality shone through. He made more clearances (232) and won more aerial duels (181) than any other Bundesliga player last season. His aerial success rate of 80.4% was also the best in Germany’s top division.

Schalke already possessed one of the Bundesliga’s top-rated defenders in the ageless Brazilian, Naldo, but they now have another in their ranks- something that will stand them in good stead as they look to build on last season’s success and compete in the Champions League.

“Salif Sané is a flexible defender who has experience in the Bundesliga,” Christian Heidel told the club website on announcing Sané’s arrival. “We’re delighted that he’s decided to join Schalke 04.”

Domenico Tedesco preferred to line up with a back-three last season and Sané will now compete with Naldo, Matija Nastasic, Thilo Kehrer, and Benjamin Stambouli for a place in that defensive set-up.

The Senegalese international has just had a successful World Cup- even if the Lions of Teranga had to endure the heartbreak of being eliminated from the group stage courtesy of the number of yellow cards they picked up. Sané was an ever-present in their defence and carried on his form from last season’s Bundesliga in his three matches against Poland (keeping Robert Lewandowski under wraps), Japan and Colombia.

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Abdou Diallo

Borussia Dortmund fans look back on their defensive duo of Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic at their peak with nostalgia. They formed the rock that a lot of BVB’s success was built on, and those fans are now looking at a new partnership with optimism.

The signing of talented youngster Manuel Akanji last season has now been complimented with the transfer of Abdou Diallo from Mainz for a huge fee, and the future at Dortmund looks to be bright with these two defensive stars. With Sokratis soon to join Arsenal, the first-choice centre back pairing for new Dortmund boss Lucien Favre looks to be Akanji and Diallo.

The current French U-21 captain, who had been attracting strong interest from Arsenal, has signed a five-year deal at the club sporting director Michael Zorc is convinced of his quality. “He’s a modern, intelligent defender, capable on the ball. He can play wide or in holding midfield and it was the combination of his potential and versatility that really caught our eye” Zorc explained.

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Back in February we highlighted the importance of Diallo to Mainz and their quest for Bundesliga survival. Aside from players from the top five, Diallo was ranked as the top defender (12th overall) based on his displays in his 27 matches last season.  He was a key factor in the Nullfünfer securing safety making 359 defensive challenges, but also committing the highest number of fouls (61) on the team.

After struggling to break through during his early career at Monaco, Diallo really shone last season in his first season in Germany with Mainz. Having signed for €5 million, the Nullfünfer have now sold him one year on for €28 million.

“After getting to know the Bundesliga in Mainz, I’m looking forward to the challenge of being able to prove myself at a club as big as Borussia Dortmund in the future,” Diallo told BVB’s official website. “Together with my team-mates I want to pay back the trust placed in me and contribute to BVB achieving its aims in every competition. I can’t wait to get started with preparation for the new season under Lucien Favre.”

Both Borussia Dortmund and Schalke have signed top quality defenders meaning visitors to the Ruhr this season are going to have a much tougher time of it.

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.

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