July 21, 2017

BVB Bulletin: Reus Extends BVB Contract “fürs Leben”

Reus bleibt! Reus bleibt! Reus bleibt fürs Leben. Reus remains for life.

Something like this refrain is joyfully clanging around BVB supporters right now after yesterday’s news of Marco Reus extending his contract with Dortmund until 2019. After signing the contract extension, Reus declared: “I am delighted to commit my future to BVB. Dortmund is my home town and Borussia is my club” in his opening line of an official statement. The hometown boy is keeping it local. Perhaps the most significant news about the contract is that the 25 million-Euro release clause from Reus’ prior contract has now been removed, according to ESPN FC, which Reus himself confirmed. Hallelujah. BVB’s beloved peroxide boy is safe from the Siren clubs of Europe (i.e. Real Madrid, Arsenal, Barcelona, and whoever sniffed around), who would have been more than happy to trigger that release clause. The assurance of another four seasons – minimum – of Reus’ work means that Dortmund is finally, finally, finally not losing its best player after the successive departures of Mario Götze (Bayern) and Robert Lewandowski (Bayern).

Our takeaway from Reus’ extension? Buy-out clauses are the most important parts of football contracts. You can safely ignore everything else.

Reus crowned the news, appropriately enough, with a sort of “love letter” tweet:

My god, how cute: “Euer Marco” he says. Our Marco, indeed.

Immediately, the internet commentariat hit top gear in churning out news analyses, consisting mostly of kvetching that Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona, whomever, “lost” a targeted signing and what this news will mean for their dear precious futures. I really pity the Siren clubs in their moment of need. Poor things. They’ll have to wait until 2019.

On Reus’ extension, BVB CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said a couple interesting things in his official remarks during the event. First, on the contract extension itself, Watzke sounded a triumphalist note: “We refused to believe all the transfer rumours and always felt there was a good chance that this extraordinary player would commit his future to BVB.” Perhaps I’m sensitive, but isn’t the point supposed to be that CEO Watzke doesn’t live in the world of mere transfer market rumors? Surely, he’s privileged with insider status during an event like this.

More significantly, however, Watzke cast a compelling rhetorical frame around Reus’ extension by anticipating the specific meaning it could have for the blonde and club alike: “Marco can define an era in Dortmund as Uwe Seeler did in Hamburg or Steven Gerrad in Liverpool.” Yes, hopefully. Furthermore, I love the way Watzke’s comment stages Reus’ potential legacy at BVB as a local boy long-timer, catalyzing his charges to Bundesliga glories. Let’s call this the “Stevie G. Legacy” argument to add to one’s “re-signing a superstar rhetorical toolkit.” I love it. Moreover, perhaps this comment about Reus’ future legacy will subtly act as a motivational agent, driving Reus and keeping him even longer at the club in order to fulfill the sporting immortality hinted at by Watzke. The timing of Reus’ extension – amid BVB’s long journey out of the Bundesliga cellar – was not lost on Watzke as well, who noted as much in his comments.

On a nostalgic note, Reus’ extension signals the kind of player longevity that just doesn’t exist in the contemporary sport. Or the potential for it, given Reus’ own exit from Mönchengladbach after the 2011-12 season. In his defense, Reus is a Dortmunder hometown boy, deciding to play his peak years at home. Nevertheless, his decision to stay is still rare within the wider world of big money football. At his point, players – even if successful and/or winning trophies – take the pay and glory bump by moving upstream to the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, Manchester United, or Chelsea. In our post-Bosman ruling world of European football, these “upstream” moves for star players are routine – and expected.

Although the “loyal player” character type is largely a fiction (thanks to the pre-Bosman world of zero player movement and less professionalization, no/smaller TV contracts in past days), Reus obviously defies the trend, especially in the Bundesliga, of star players moving onto to Bayern or bigger clubs outside Germany. While we might feel nostalgia for something that never existed through Reus’ decision to remain in Dortmund, for myself I can’t deny that his decision taps deeply into an emotional place, cradling my fandom in its most elemental form. I see a man saying yes to my/our club, saying yes to his heimstadt, and saying yes to a community.

Marco Reus, you have me by the heart strings. Be kind, please.

For supporters, Reus’ decision and contract extension leaves them in a paradoxically vulnerable place. On one hand, the move triggers all kinds of deep-seated trust (dare I say connection?) that we don’t normally have for players anymore. On the other hand, if Reus and BVB have a bad ending, the pain and disappointment will be that much greater, Fußballgottes forbid.

Meanwhile, Reus’ extension provides an additional replica kit purchasing option for supporters, Kevin Großkreutz aside, since you won’t be burning his kit at any future point.

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Travis serves as an editor and regular columnist here. Born and groomed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Travis is a college English instructor in Pittsburgh. Coffee, books, and coaching the U6s are his passions. His writing has also appeared in Bloomberg Sports, the Good Man Project, and his former blog, Sportisourstory.tumblr.com, and elsewhere. He tweets at @tptimmons. Heja BVB!

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