Borussia Dortmund had one of the best transfer windows this summer in spite of losing attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Manchester United, midfield maestro Ilkay Gundogan to Manchester City and centre-half Mats Hummels to Bayern Munich.
The Black and Yellows made eight signings to go with the five departures and still managed to make a profit of about one million Euros. Further, the average age of the new entrants is 22.5 years compared to the average age of the departures which is 25.7 years.
Dortmund management deserves a special mention for planning the transfers in advance as only two of the eight transfers were made after July 1st. This indicates a clear train of thought and coherence between manager Thomas Tuchel and the transfer committee. However, the number of signings means Tuchel had the difficult task of incorporating the new signings into the first team.
So, without further ado, let us take a look at how the new signings have performed so far this season.
#1 Mikel Merino
The first of the summer signings with the deal done in February, Merino was brought in with an eye on the future. He was signed from Spanish club Osasuna for €3.75 million where he made 67 appearances in all. During the same period, he won the 2015 UEFA European Championship with the Spain U-19 team in Greece.
Primarily a midfielder, he played as a centre-half in the pre-season for Dortmund. Merino has so far started in two games this season and both the appearances were in the centre-half position.
So, this could very well imply that Tuchel finds his game to be better suited for defence than in midfield.
Grade – N/A, played too little to assess
(Video Courtesy: WorldOfFootball HD YouTube Channel)
#2 Emre Mor
The 19-year old winger was signed by Borussia Dortmund from FC Nordsjælland in July this year and was given the no.9 jersey as well. The acquisition of more experienced and higher profile players such as Andre Schurrle and Ousmane Dembele has limited his game-time so far this season.
He has made just 3 starts in the league this season and picked up a red card as well. Most of his appearances have been limited to coming on as a substitute in the Bundesliga and cups.
Meanwhile, on the national stage, Mor has been a constant part of the Turkish national team. He had switched allegiances from Denmark in 2016, having played for the Danish U17, U18 and U21 teams. He has already made eight appearances for Turkey and also picked up an assist in the Euros 2016 against Czech Republic. So, the quality is definitely there and it is only a matter of time before he starts performing consistently for Dortmund.
Grade – D, sporadic appearances so far
(Video Courtesy: Footoz YouTube Channel)
#3 Andre Schurrle
Andre Schurrle was signed for a club-record €30 million.by Dortmund and was the final signing made by the German giants in the summer. A lot of scepticism exists over the transfer fee for a player who has never truly strung a couple of strong seasons at the multiple clubs he has played for so far. Schurrle was signed to provide experience and goals of the departed Henrikh Mkhitaryan from the wing and it made sense from that perspective.
His performances for Dortmund were dented by a knee injury in early September that saw him miss a number of games till October end. He has scored 2 goals and picked up 3 assists in 13 appearances so far including the crucial equaliser in UEFA Champions League home tie against Real Madrid.
It is fair to say the World Cup winner with Germany in 2014 has yet to live up to his expectations and will be hoping to do better in the second-half of the season.
Grade – C, yet to justify his big-money transfer
(Video Courtesy: Football Explosion YouTube Channel)
#4 Mario Gotze
When the return of Borussia Dortmund’s infamous star from Bayern Munich was announced in the summer, the fans were none too happy about it. While the return made sense for Mario Gotze who failed to kick on at Bayern, it also was a good move for Dortmund in their attempt to replace Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The loss in confidence Gotze suffered at Bayern was evident in the initial months till the match against Bayern Munich in November came around. In that match, Gotze played like the no.10 Tuchel wanted him to and not only picked up a beautiful assist for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but also put on a solid shift that earned him a standing ovation on being substituted.
Dortmund will be hoping for an improvement in performances come January for his tally of 2 goals and 2 assists across 15 appearances does not befit his quality.
Grade – C, slow progress in recovering his previous form
(Video Courtesy: SMTV YouTube Channel)
#5 Sebastian Rode
25-year old Sebastian Rode, who became a sensation at Eintracht Frankfurt and subsequently earned a move to Bayern Munich, failed to make an impact at the Bavarian club. This summer, he was the second player acquired by Dortmund from Bayern. Sebastian Rode was brought in primarily to fill in the void left by midfield maestro Ilkay Gundogan who joined Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
The German has made 18 appearances so far this season already eclipsing his playing time last season with Bayern despite half of his appearances coming in the form of a substitute. He has a Whoscored.com rating of 6.50 and has generally done a good job whenever called upon.
However, he is very likely to remain just as an efficient back-up with better options available for Tuchel in midfield and must improve his game if he needs to earn a starting spot.
Grade – B, a solid back-up
(Video Courtesy: SR Footballers YouTube Channel)
#6 Marc Bartra
Like the signings above, Bartra was another case of an underutilised player at a top club being signed by Dortmund. This time, the player was signed from Barcelona to replace the departing Mats Hummels and it is fair to say Bartra has snapped up the opportunity with both hands.
He has shared the centre-half positions with Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Matthias Ginter so far this season.
Bartra has a healthy Whoscored.com rating of 7.09 while scoring a goal and picking up 3 assists so far this season. While he has not been exceptional, he has done well so far to both vindicate his decision of moving away from Barcelona and Dortmund’s decision to bring him in for replacing Hummels.
Grade – B, finding his feet
(Video Courtesy: SH10Comps YouTube Channel)
#7 Raphael Guerreiro
Primarily signed as a left-back to compete with club captain Marcel Schmelzer, Euro 2016 winner with Portugal, Raphael Guerreiro has without a doubt surprised one and all with his ability and vision while commanding games in the no.8 role at Dortmund.
Tuchel has allowed the attacking talents of the Portuguese to flourish in central midfield with the latter’s passing, technique and delivery making him the perfect option in front of holding midfielder Julian Weigl.
Prior to the muscle injury that ruled him out of action since early November, he bagged 3 goals and laid 5 assists in 12 appearances, including a few man of the match displays. It is fair to say that he has earned his place in the starting line-up and will start when Dortmund resume playing football after the winter break.
Grade – A, bargain signing of the season
(Video Courtesy: BNK YouTube Channel)
#8 Ousmane Dembele
Dortmund beat a lot of top clubs to the signing of the next big thing in France when they acquired the services of Dembele from Rennes and they have been fully rewarded for it. The 19-year old’s performances belie his age not just in terms of his quality but also in delivering a consistent end-product. In a team not short of attacking options, Dembele has managed to create a spot for himself.
Having made the most number of appearances among the new recruits, Dembele has bagged 5 goals and a whopping 12 assists in 24 appearances for Dortmund so far. His pace, trickery and versatility have found the right home to develop further under Tuchel.
It will be interesting to observe whether he can sustain the form and keep his position with more experienced options such as Marco Reus coming back from injury.
Grade – A, the next big Dortmund star in the making
(Video Courtesy: MTFilmz YouTube Channel)
The eight signings Dortmund have made in the summer are yet to completely bear fruit and this has been reflected in their league position where they stand at 6th. When the league gets underway after the winter break, Tuchel would hope for his new signings to contribute more, both in the Bundesliga as well the cup competitions.
Overall, Dortmund had a superb summer transfer window despite being only partially successful in reaping the rewards.