Benjamin McFadyean looks at two prospects that could be game-changers in key positions for Dortmund and why signing them could be the start of Marco Rose's vision for BVB's defensive capability.
|Andreas Christensen (left).||Photo: Антон Зайцев, Soccer.ru, CC BY-SA 3.0|
In a Borussia Dortmund season preview, I highlighted the need for reinforcements in particular at left-back, with first-choice Nico Schulz not being able to own the position due to inconsistent performances and Dan-Axel Zagadou out with injury most of 20-21, but also still not a dominant choice in the position.
In midfield, and particularly in defensive midfield, the issue is similar after losing Thomas Delaney to Sevilla FC in the summer. Even with Mahmoud Dahoud showing some great performances this season, there are still fragilities that are leaving BVB vulnerable to pressure.
With 28 conceded goals this season, 6 more than in 20-21 at this stage of the season, that tells a tale unto itself. What is key is that BVB concede substantially more goals than the team they, and most neutral fans, want them to replace at the top of the table – Bayern, who have conceded 18, ten less than Dortmund this season.
Borussia's squad is currently lopsided. The squad contains outstanding talent like Jude Bellingham and Geo Reyna, but they've been lacking experience at times when players like Rapha Guerreiro, Thorgan Hazard or Manuel Akanji have been injured.
Two exciting proven players that could bring much-needed experience and that have in the past week been rumored by the football press in Germany to be under consideration by BVB are Chelsea's Danish international defender Andreas Christensen and Manchester United's Dutch Donny Van de Beek.
These players, if signed, could be game-changers. Danish international Christensen brings the much-needed experience at centre-back and the speed to complement the 33-year old Mats Hummels. The 25-year-old has a reputation for being calm under pressure and dominating the box with skillful tackles. Crucially, the Chelsea academy graduate brings great aerial ability, a weakness BVB has had in recent seasons. The fact that he has also played in the Bundesliga with Rose's old club 'Gladbach will not have gone unnoticed either.
Donny Van de Beek is a powerful midfielder with strong defensive capability and is impressive going forward. Crucially, with Axel Witsel (33) expected to not gain a new contract in the summer, Van de Beek has skills similar to the Belgian in terms of excellent control and a great eye for a pass but also has an outstanding ability to link up with the attack and is dangerous as he makes runs into the box.
The signing of players of this caliber would be a statement of intent by 'Die Schwarz-Gelben' and could be at signal that Marco Rose is starting to get the backing of the top brass at Westfalenstadion he will be craving for, with only Gregor Kobel, who moved from VfB Stuttgart for a reported €15m, and striker Donyell Malen, €30m from PSV Eindhoven, the only big-money signings last summer.
Only 700 fans have been allowed for tonight's match against SC Freiburg, and it is not known how long the pandemic-induced restrictions could continue. Crucially, with the club already carrying a debt load estimated by Transfermarkt to be around €50m, Christensen would be available on a free transfer as his contract is expiring in June. A potential sticking point could be his salary, although currently earning €5m at Chelsea, the expectation would be for an increase, but would not be likely to exceed the €11m Marco Reus earns at the club.
In contrast for Donny van de Beek, there would likely be a transfer fee. Manchester United paid €40 for Donny van de Beek and will be looking to recuperate value from the player who has a contract at Old Trafford until 2025. Estimates by Sky suggest the 'Red Devils' would be looking for a fee of about €25m. Transfermarkt quotes Van de Beek's current salary to be €6m which is well within BVB's range and would be comparable to the earnings of Mahmoud Dahoud currently.
In terms of the skills, affordability, experience in vital areas and above all fitting into the salary bracket, these players could really make a difference at Signal Iduna Park. However, both players are likely to be in big demand, and a lot will depend on whether Dortmund is ready to back Rose's vision which will depend on performances this season.
There are two weeks remaining of the January transfer window but apart from a further loan in defense where VFL Wolfsburg loanee Marin Pongracic has dropped down to the fourth choice, it is hard to see the fiscally cautious Dortmunders making any major signings until the summer and players of the quality of Christensen and Van den Beek won't hang around for long.