Borussia Dortmund is one of Europe’s biggest clubs and a key factor behind their recent success is their transfer strategy. Dortmund generates a lot of revenue through transfers and the most recent sale of Christian Pulisic for £58m to Chelsea is a testament to this strategy.
Pulisic was signed by Dortmund before he made his professional debut and he came through the academy before finding success with the Dortmund first team and the US national football team.
The American winger isn’t the first player Dortmund sold for a hefty fee in recent years.
Dortmund won two league titles and reached the final of the UEFA Champions League in recent years. Many players from that squad were either academy graduates or players they signed for cheap from other teams. Many of them were transferred to other top European clubs for hefty fees thanks to their performance for Dortmund.
For instance, Mario Gotze and Nuri Sahin were academy graduates who moved to Bayern Munich and Real Madrid respectively before returning to the club. Shinji Kagawa was signed for only €350,000 from Cerezo Osaka before he was sold to Manchester United.
Dortmund has sold enough players over the years to name an XI consisting of some top players.
Defenders - Marc Bartra (Real Betis), Neven Subotic (Saint-Etienne) and Erik Durm (Huddersfield Town)
Midfielders - Nuri Sahin (Weder Bremen), Gonzalo Castro (VfB Stuttgart) and Kevin Kampl (RB Leipzig)
Forwards - Ciro Immobile (Lazio) and Andriy Yarmolenko (Wes Ham)
Goalkeeper - Mitchell Langerak (Nagoya Grampus)
This is the only area of the pitch where we had to settle for a player rather than choose between many available options.
Mitchell Langerak was at Dortmund between 2010 and 2015 when he served as the club’s backup goalkeeper. He played 35 times for the club winning five trophies before joining VfB Stuttgart. He helped Stuttgart earn promotion to the Bundesliga in 2017 before joining Levante in the summer.
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After only a few months with Levante, the Australian international moved to Nagoya Grampus for whom he still plays.
Defenders - Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Monchengladbach) and Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Arsenal)
Mats Hummels joined Borussia Dortmund on loan from Bayern Munich in 2008 before the move was made permanent a year later. He joined Dortmund after not receiving opportunities at Bayern and he went on to play 309 games in the yellow of Dortmund while scoring 25 goals.
The German was regarded as one of the best defenders in the world when he was at Dortmund and he was also the club’s captain in his final season. He won five trophies during his stint with Dortmund.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos was signed in 2013 from Bundesliga rivals Werder Bremen as a replacement for the outgoing Felipe Santana. The Greek defender was at Dortmund for five seasons and scored 10 goals in 198 appearances before joining Arsenal last summer.
The former Milan defender won three trophies during his time with Borussia Dortmund.
Matthias Ginter was the youngest player in Germany’s squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup but he didn’t play for the eventual champions in 2014. However, Dortmund wasted no time in snapping up one of Germany’s most promising players.
Ginter played 101 games for Dortmund in three seasons. Although he’s a centre-back by trade, he was often deployed as a right-back to cover for Łukasz Piszczek.
He was sold to Borussia Monchengladbach in 2017 and has been a key player for them since. He has played 12 league games this season as Gladbach challenge Dortmund for the Bundesliga title.
Midfielders - Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Sven Bender (Bayer Leverkusen) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Arsenal)
Dortmund signed Ilkay Gundogan for only €4 million from FC Nürnberg in 2011 and sold him to Manchester City for £20 million in 2016.
Gundogan arrived as a replacement for Nuri Sahin and soon became an indispensable member of the midfield forming a successful pivot with Sven Bender. He played 157 games for Dortmund scoring 15 goals and won three trophies.
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Sven Bender was one of Jurgen Klopp’s early recruits at Dortmund manager and a player who was key to their back to back title triumphs in 2011 and 2012.
The German midfielder played 224 games for Dortmund between 2009 and 2017 but he saw his role at the club reduce towards the end of his time there. He joined his twin brother Lars Bender at Bayer Leverkusen in 2017.
Bender won six trophies as a Borussia Dortmund player.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan joined Borussia Dortmund in 2013 as a replacement for Mario Gotze. He played 140 games for Dortmund in three seasons and scored 41 goals but he only has a DFB-Supercup to show for it.
Mkhitaryan scored 23 goals and assisted a further 24 goals in only 52 games in his final season with Dortmund. He joined Manchester United in 2016 before moving to Arsenal in January 2018.
Forwards - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona) and Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Roberto Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have 244 goals between them for Borussia Dortmund and have both won the Bundesliga top scorer award with the club.
Lewandowski joined Dortmund in 2010 but he played a backup to Lucas Barrios in his first season at the club as Dortmund were crowned champions. He cemented his place as the club’s first choice striker the following season and is now regarded as one of the best strikers in the world.
The Pole scored 103 goals for Dortmund in 187 games and won four trophies before joining Bayern Munich on a free transfer in 2014.
Aubameyang joined Dortmund in 2013 and played out wide in his first season at the club to accommodate Lewandowski. Once the Pole moved to Bayern, Aubameyang was the club’s undisputed first-choice striker until his move to Arsenal in January 2018 for £56 million.
The Gabonese striker scored 141 goals in 213 games for Dortmund, won three trophies, won the Golden Boot in 2016/17 and was named the Bundesliga Player of the Year in 2015/16.
Ousmane Dembele and Christian Pulisic are two of the most promising wingers in the world at the moment and Dortmund sold these two players for a combined profit of £138 million with the possibility of another £40 million in add-ons from Dembele’s sale.
Dembele was a Dortmund player for only one season during which he scored 10 goals and assisted 20 more in 49 games across all competitions. He made a highly-controversial switch to Barcelona after one season but is living up to the hype at the Catalan club.
Unlike Dembele, Pulisic doesn’t boast extraordinary numbers for Dortmund but the 20-year-old is already considered the best player to come out of the US and there were many clubs interested in him before Chelsea signed him up.
Pulisic who has nine goals in 23 games for the US national team will spend the remainder of the current season with Dortmund before joining Chelsea next summer.
Manager - Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
Every team needs a manager and so does this one. Borussia Dortmund sold many fantastic players over the years but their biggest loss in recent years was losing their beloved manager Jurgen Klopp.
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Klopp took over as Dortmund manager in 2008 when the club was in shambles and three years later, he made them Bundesliga Champions!
The charismatic German assembled a team with academy graduates and shrewd signings in a short period and won two league titles and DFB-Pokal by the end of the 2011/12 season. In 2013, he shocked the world by leading his side to the final of the UEFA Champions League.
Klopp voluntarily left Dortmund in 2015 after struggling in his final season with the club. He did well to keep Dortmund competitive during his time despite losing key players almost every year.
He left the club with a win percentage of 56.3 and six trophies to his name.