Borussia Dortmund and the Ongoing Hunt For a Striker

With the summer transfer window open and in full swing, most of the 18 Bundesliga clubs are busy adding to and trimming their squads ahead of the new season. Borussia Dortmund have been no different selling the likes of Andriy Yarmolenko, André Schürrle and Gonzalo Castro, while bringing in Thomas Delaney, Abdou Diallo and Marius Wolf.

However, one area the Schwarzgelben have been frustrated in so far has been in their quest for a central striker. The departure of talismanic Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Arsenal in the winter transfer window was covered admirably in the Rückrunde by loanee Michy Batshuayi, but his return to Chelsea has left BVB sporting director Michael Zorc looking for a top-quality striker to lead the attack at the Signal-Iduna Park in the forthcoming campaign.

Close, But No

There have been no shortage of high-profile names linked with Dortmund, but thus far none of the rumours have come to fruition. One big name linked was that of Mario Mandžukić of Juventus. The Croat striker impressed during the World Cup and with the arrival of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin, might see his role very much diminished next season.

He struggled for goals last season somewhat (scoring just five in Serie A), but he has plenty of Bundesliga quality from his time at both VfL Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich between 2010 and 2014.

It does however appear that the 32-year-old has turned down the opportunity to return to Germany, despite the best efforts of new Dortmund consultant Matthias Sammer, who worked with Mandžukić at Bayern.

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Chelsea duo Michy Batshuayi and Spaniard Alvaro Morata have both seemingly been considered but pure financial considerations have ruled the pair out of a permanent move to the Ruhr added to the fact that new Blues boss Mauricio Sarri is keeping his options on the strikers open.

Other Options

Staying in England, and there have been plenty of mentions of Crystal Palace’s Wilfrid Zaha as a potential target. He had a great season last year and is surely destined for a ‘bigger’ club than the Eagles, but that is more likely to be in the Premier League in all likelihood. Plus, Zaha is much more the dazzling winger, rather than the central striker that Dortmund seek.

Talented Portuguese youngster Rafael Leao’s name has been mentioned, but the word on the grapevine is that the 19-year-old wonderkid is being tracked closely by Manchester City and the English champions are in pole position to snap him up. Besides, he would surely be one for the future, rather than the finished article Dortmund require.

The Totally Left-Field Option

Robert……Lewandowski. Yes, I told you it was left-field! Despite Bayern Munich boss Uli Hoeness declaring the Polish marksman ‘not for sale at any price’ to ward off the likes of Real Madrid, BVB chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke has decided to stir the pot by declaring he would be prepared to break the bank to bring Lewandowski back to the club.

“Robert knows the business, the league, even the club and we know he would work right away,” Watzke told Sportbild. “Only a handful of players in the world can give you this security.

“The players in the top segment no longer cost 50, but rather 100 million euros.  We could handle that, too, if we absolutely want to have a player and are a thousand per cent convinced. For such a player, I would be willing to pay even 100 million euros.”

It’s a big claim, but I tend to think it is just a case of Watzke stirring the pot to antagonize Bayern and grab a few headlines, but stranger things have happened……

Plan B

It could well come to pass that Borussia Dortmund reach August 26 and their opening weekend clash with RB Leipzig without having signed a new striker. Michael Zorc has already professed to not being happy with signing a striker just for the sake of signing a striker, so it could be that BVB stick with what they already have in their ranks.

Last summer saw the €20 million signing of Maximilian Philipp from SC Freiburg and initially he did very well in the goals department scoring six goals in his first ten games before injury impacted upon his season. He was primarily used in a wide attacking role in support of the central striker, but he recently told Ruhr Nachrichten he was ready to step up to lead the line. “Of course I can play as striker. I know that I can score goals. I’m versatile, that’s the good thing about me” he explained.

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Indeed, in Dortmund’s recent friendly against Benfica in the US, Philipp was deployed as the main striker and scored twice, with his brace coming in the space of 120 seconds.

Swedish youngster Alexander Isak is Borussia’s only other recognised striker in the squad, but although he will get some game time, it’s unthinkable that the 18-year-old will start the new campaign as the main man up front and the primary source of goals. Marco Reus has the ability to play centrally, but that would take away somewhat from his main position of strength.

New coach Lucien Favre will want to hit the ground running and match the great start Dortmund made last season. Who starts as his first-choice striker remains very much an open question, but the clock is ticking as the summer break gives way to tour games and then the Bundesliga kick-off.

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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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