Is Dortmund’s decision to keep Gundogan and Hummels healthy?
On the face of it, new Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel’s forays into the transfer market so far have brought modest returns, with just three low-profile faces added for small fees.
However, the Black and Yellows’ ability to retain key players so far such as Ilkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels and Marco Reus, who all looked likely to depart at different points last season and this summer, are surely the most important moves the club could have made.
Those three Germany stars and homegrown heroes are undoubtedly Dortmund’s spine. As the troubled Bundesliga side, who finished seventh and missed out to a resurgent Wolfsburg in the DFB Pokal final, have had a torrid time of it recently, with iconic coach Jurgen Klopp following the likes of Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski out of a revolving Westenfalenstadion door, it is a welcome change.
True, all that took place over a few terms, but it feels as though Dortmund’s dismantling has been one damaging departure after another. A boost was needed over the off-season for fervent fans, but is it healthy that it takes the shape of extensions and declarations of loyalty rather than big-name arrivals?
To save face, create further stability and avoid the upheaval and uncertainty that comes with further losses, Die Borussen (20/1 with Coral to win the Bundesliga) have done well to retain their top trio and resist being raided.
It is a fantastic statement that international names like Reus and Gundogan put pen to paper and will stay to take part in Dortmund’s new project. Now World Cup winner and defender Hummels has also come out to support his club, stating: “There have always been rumours about almost every one of our players, but I decided not to make the move this year.
“Of course when the big clubs are interested, and Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in the world, it’s an honour. But I decided I wanted to stay here,” the 26-year-old told press.
It begs the question, though, considering the Black and Yellows’ inability to keep previous wantaway stars, whether the arguably injury-prone big three were really so sought-after?
The highly-rated trio have all suffered from fitness issues and patches of poor form recently, with Dortmund’s disappointing campaign partly attributed to their failure to hit previous heights.
Currently, playmaker Gundogan looks a shadow of his former self, but as the 24-year-old strives to return to previous standards, should Barcelona (10/3 to retain the Champions League) come calling next summer his recent one-year extension would likely mean little.
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) July 1, 2015
Who knows whether Louis van Gaal thought skipper Hummels, who had a shaky season, was worth the risk following his own injury niggles. The same goes for Reus, who has spent significant time on the sidelines, and only struck seven times in the Bundesliga last season.
Should Dortmund be keeping players that may not be committed, but are rather biding their time until their stock is high once more? Returning them to their best will only benefit Die Borussen if they can guarantee large fees and no more freebies or release clause captures to rivals Bayern Munich. If these stars are also to spend more time on the treatment table than pitch, would it have been better to cash-in and cut loose?
Gundogan et al are reminders of success, of a more dangerous Dortmund that could well return, but if that golden era is gone with Klopp, it may have been worth the risk to rebuild with fresh faces.
Despite retaining Reus and co, Dortmund are still not rid of their reputation as a selling club and already there are rumours of interest from abroad in those who have stepped-up recently, such as striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Fans may also bemoan a lack of spending but it must be remembered that the likes of Gundogan, Shinji Kagawa and Nuri Sahin were a procured for low fees, while high-profile, expensive purchases such as Ciro Immobile have struggled to settle.
So, perhaps the next gem could emerge from the new crop of keeper Roman Bur, midfielder Gonzalo Castro and engine-room young-gun Julian Weigl, and help create a new and revamped Dortmund with one eye on the future instead of the past.