Bundesliga News

Who will stay and who will go in Borussia Dortmund's summer rebuild?

By Andrew Asher

On the 23rd April, a Bayern Munich victory over Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena confirmed a decade of Bavarian dominance after another lacklustre season for Die Schwarzgelben. With RB Leipzig going through a strong resurgence in form following the appointment of Domenico Tedesco, and Bayern likely to strengthen in the summer, Dortmund are in need of a major rebuild if they are to compete again next season. So, where exactly do Dortmund need to strengthen? Let’s take a look at the players that Dortmund have already confirmed for next season, rumours surrounding potential incomings and a few players that would be welcome additions for the season ahead.
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Formation suggestion: 3-5-2/3-4-2-1
Marco Rose has played a number of formations this season, most favourably his 4-2-3-1 formation just from his time at Borussia Mönchengladbach. Rose’s inability to decide which formation to play this season has certainly contributed to players not being able to settle and perform consistently over a long run of games.

With a need for defensive stability becoming increasingly obvious, a switch to a formation with 3 central defenders and wing-backs for extra cover is certainly a quick-fix option. The current Dortmund personnel could easily set up in a 3-5-2 or 3-4-2-1 and have indeed at times this season utilised the 3-4-2-1 formation. A flat three in midfield could give defensive support in front of the backline as well as allow superstar Jude Bellingham to push forward in midfield. Alternatively, a 3-4-2-1 formation allows Rose to use wingers whilst maintaining defensive stability as the wing-backs can drop deep and form a five at the back.

The question still remains, however, who will be at the club next season to play in this system?

GK - Goalkeeper
Current: Gregor Kobel, Marwin Hitz, Roman Bürki
This season has seen new signing Gregor Kobel firmly as no.1 goalkeeper with Marwin Hitz playing backup. Kobel has continued his impressive form from last season into this season and been one of the highlights for Borussia Dortmund this campaign.

Reliable no. 2 goalkeeper Marwin Hitz has seen his playing time significantly reduced this season after taking the shirt from Bürki last season. The 34-year old is rumoured to be interested in a move away this summer, according to Wolfsburger Allgemeine, citing a lack of playing time as the reason. On March 16th, it was announced that Bürki would be joining St. Louis City for their inaugural season in the MLS at the end of the current Bundesliga season.

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Potential replacements: Mark Flekken (Freiburg), Marcel Lotka (Hertha Berlin), Luca Unbehaun (Borussia Dortmund II)
It is clear therefore that Dortmund will be needing to strengthen in the goalkeeping department. Current Hertha BSC goalkeeper Marcel Lotka will join Borussia Dortmund upon the expiry of his contract at the end of the season. The 20-year old keeper is highly rated, but will not be able to solve the problem entirely and is unlikely to be second choice.

Dutch goalkeeper Mark Flekken has been a revelation for Freiburg this season in their unexpected hunt for Champions league football. Flekken has 10 clean sheets in 28 games this season and also boasts the highest save percentage in the league. Freiburg wouldn’t want to let Flekken go cheap and it is unclear whether the player himself would be willing to initially come in as a no.2 goalkeeper.

Youth goalkeeper Luca Unbehaun has been in and around the first time this season, being in the squad in the Champions League, in the Europa League and in the Pokal. It remains to be seen whether the young stopper is ready to make the step up to be third choice keeper, but he is certainly one to watch.

CB: Centre-back
Current: Manuel Akanji, Dan-Axel Zagadou, Mats Hummels, Marin Pongračić
Dortmund’s defence have come under fire many times this season and for good reason. Zagadou’s fitness issues seem to have continued into this campaign with both he and Akanji seemingly set on a move away. Zagadou’s current deal expires at the end of the season and with question marks over the young Frenchman’s fitness, it is still unknown whether he will stay at the club.

According to Ruhr Nachrichten, the chances of Akanji signing a new contract are “close to zero” and with his current deal only running until 2023, Dortmund may wish to cash in on him while they still can. Mats Hummels has proven that he still has a lot to offer with has vast experience, composure, leadership skills, superb passing range and organisational skills. As long as he can stay fit and healthy, he is a great option in the heart of the defence.

Marin Pongračić has played a supporting role this season, as was expected when he was brought in by Marco Rose. He has an option-to-buy for a fee in the region of €10-12 million (BVB Buzz), although it is unlikely that Dortmund will activate this clause despite the need for defensive support.

Potential replacements: Nico Schlotterbeck (Freiburg), Niklas Süle (Bayern Munich), William Saliba (on loan at Marseille from Arsenal)
Both Niklas Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck have now agreed to join the club for the upcoming season, shrewd signings from the team in black and yellow.

Both Süle and Schlotterbeck rank high ball progression and passing ability whilst being strong and relatively pacey defenders. In a three at the back formation, Schlotterbeck would slot into the LCB (left centre-back) position and Sule into RCB (right centre-back). Their ability to carry the ball and pick out a pass makes them the perfect wide CBs in a 3.

If one of Akanji or Zagadou is to leave this summer, Dortmund will be caught terribly short if they are to play a formation with three central defenders. One name that might be of interest to the Dortmund hierarchy is William Saliba. The French international doesn’t seem to be in favour at his parent club, Arsenal, and would provide much needed defensive support as well as impressive passing ability.

LWB: left wing-back
Current: Raphaël Guerreiro, Nico Schulz, Tom Rothe
Both Guerreiro and Schulz have come under fire this season over their defensive capabilities and inconsistency. Guerreiro offers a lot of quality in the final third, and is certainly more comfortable as a LWB as opposed to a traditional LB (left-back). Reverting back to a three at the back formation could alleviate some of the Portuguese man’s defensive responsibility and allow him to concentrate on getting forward.

17-year old Tom Rothe started his first game for Die Borussen against Wolfsburg in a thrashing 6-1 win in game week 30. The former St. Pauli youth product marked his debut with the opening goal of the match and an impressive performance. The youngster has certainly thrown his hat in the ring for next season at the LWB position.

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Potential replacements: Filip Kostić (Eintracht Frankfurt), David Raum (TSG Hoffenheim), Ramy Bensebaini (Gladbach)
In the 3-5-2 system, both left and right wing-backs are incredibly important to the team in the attack and in defence.

With this in mind, one player that certainly catches the eye is Filip Kostić of Eintracht Frankfurt. Sport1 claim that Kostić will be available for as little as €15 million. In all competitions this season, Kostić has managed 7 goals and 14 assists in 38 games and has even operated further forward for Frankfurt, proving that he would provide versatility if Dortmund were to change shape.

At 29 years old, Kostić is approaching the peak of his career, and Dortmund may prefer to opt for a younger option. David Raum has been brilliant for Hoffenheim at LWB this season, and at just 24 years old is a great option for the long term. After notching 3 goals and 11 assists in 29 appearances, it’s easy to see why Raum has gained so many plaudits this season.

Gladbach's Ramy Bensebaini has also emerged as an option, with today's edition of Sport Bild claiming that Dortmund could sign the player for a fee around €12 million.

RWB: right wing-back
Current: Thomas Meunier, Mateu Morey, Felix Passlack, Marius Wolf
As with Guerreiro and Schulz, Thomas Meunier has been criticised for his defensive ability this season. Dortmund will most likely have to bring in more quality in his position going forward. Both he and Marius Wolf have been asked to play as a RB when really they are more comfortable as a right wing-back or midfielder. Wolf has outperformed Meunier this season and is younger than the Belgian so would most likely be favourite to stay at the club.

Having torn his cruciate ligament towards the back end of last season, Mateu Morey has missed the whole of the 2021/22 season. Morey was looking promising before his injury and hopefully he will be able to find his feet when he returns after a long spell on the side-lines.

Felix Passlack has struggled to nail down a starting position for Dortmund over the last two seasons, mainly operating as a stand-in RWB, sometimes from the left. With just a year left on his deal, Passlack will need to weigh up his future and decide whether he may need to move on to pastures new.

Potential replacements: Jonathan Clauss (RC Lens), Knauff (on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt)
Now plying his trade in France, the former Arminia Bielefeld wing-back Jonathan Clauss is no stranger to German football and has been fantastic for Lens over the last few seasons, this season in particular, managing 4 goals and 10 assists in 33 games. The 29 year old’s performances have even gained him international recognition, earning his first cap for France.

Another player to consider is of course Ansgar Knauff who has progressed well this season on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt. It looks as though Knauff will see out his 18-month loan next season but his progression at Frankfurt is certainly positive for Dortmund. The German U21 international is more than capable of operating as a more attack-minded RWB, as he does in Frankfurt.

CM - centre midfield
Current: Jude Bellingham, Mahmoud Dahoud, Emre Can, Axel Witsel
There is little to be said about Jude Bellingham that hasn’t been already and he will again prove vital to Borussia Dortmund for the season ahead. It seems as though the Englishman will be staying at the club for another season all being well and he will no doubt continue in his lightning progression as a player.

Mahmoud Dahoud has a lot of ability an eye for a tackle but does tend to struggle with consistency. With the progressive runs of the wide players, wing-backs and centre-backs alike, Dahoud could easily slot in and dictate the play from deep and will most likely have a role to play next season die Borussen.

Can is a useful utility player but has made one too many mistakes this season leading to chances and indeed goals. Many Dortmund fans are on the side of moving Can on in summer as frustration with him has grown this season. Meanwhile, Axel Witsel, who has featured in 27 league games this season has been a consistent performer over the last few years, told WAZ Redaktion that he will be leaving in the summer.

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Potential replacements: Boubacar Kamara (Marseille), Florian Neuhaus (Borussia Mönchengladbach) Salih Özcan (FC Köln)
A defensive midfielder should be a priority over the summer if Can is to follow Witsel out of the exit door. One player that would be an excellent addition is Boubacar Kamara of Marseille. Kamara came through the academy at Marseille as a centre-back but has recently excelled for the first team in defensive midfield. At 22 years old, Kamara is one for the future and would become a very valuable asset for die Schwarzgelben if they could manage to pull off his signature.

Another option in midfield is Florian Neuhaus at Borussia Mönchengladbach who has just a year left on his contract. The 25-year old managed to find some of his form from last season towards the back end of this campaign after a tricky spell. Neuhaus could offer Dortmund depth in the box-to-box role and could easily play in a flat midfield three or slightly more advanced in attacking midfield.

AM/Wing - attacking midfield/wingers
Current: Reinier, Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt, Giovanni Reyna, Marco Reus, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens
One position in which Dortmund will see a real shake up is the attacking midfield/wingers department. Brazilian Reinier’s two-year loan from Real Madrid is due to expire at the end of the season and question marks surround the future of both Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt.

Hazard has been unable to recreate his 2019/20 form in recent history where he scored 7 goals and provided 13 assists in 33 games, a tally which he has not beaten in the last two seasons combined. Santi Aouna reports that both Arsenal and Atlético Madrid have expressed an interest in the 29-year old if Dortmund need to offload the Belgium this summer in order to fund a rebuild.

Despite managing 7 goals and 8 assists in 29 games, Julian Brandt has been heavily criticised for the inconsistency of his performances this season. Although Brandt is keen to stay, according to BILD the club have told the player that he is surplus to requirements.

It has been a stop start season for Gio Reyna, who has been supremely unlucky with injuries over the course of the 2021/22 season. Reyna has been a huge miss for die Schwarzgelben this term and he will undoubtedly have a huge role to play for the club going forward.

In the twilight of his career, Marco Reus is just as important as ever, providing 9 goals and 16 assists in just 27 games this season. Reus will potentially see his minutes reduced slightly next season as the club looks to continue to protect their captain who turns 33 at the end of May.

A bright spark in a largely disappointing season in North Rhine-Westphalia has been inclusion of youngster Jamie Bynoe-Gittens. The young Englishman looked bright in a cameo appearance against Bayern Munich as well as when he started against Bochum. As expected, Bynoe-Gittens is already being labelled as ‘the new Sancho’, but the former Manchester City youth player will be keen to make his own story in the coming years.

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ST: striker
Current: Erling Braut Haaland, Donyell Malen, Youssoufa Moukoko, Steffen Tigges
It is becoming increasingly unlikely that Erling Braut Haaland will be at Borussia Dortmund next season. It goes without saying that Borussia Dortmund will find it near impossible to replace the prolific striker’s goals next season which makes it vital that goals are coming from other sources.

Donyell Malen has had an up and down season where he managed just 5 goals and 6 assists in 27 league games. Although Malen hasn’t quite taken the goal-scoring burden off of his teammate Haaland, he seems to be beginning to settle in the Bundesliga. Malen is also capable of playing out wide which will be useful if Dortmund as he can operate in 2-striker set up or as a winger working off of a central striker.

Both Moukoko and Tigges have been limited for minutes this season, playing just 7% and 4% of the team’s game minutes in the league this season. Perhaps a loan for both players may be on the cards for next season as they look to start their next stage of development.

Potential replacements: Karim Adeyemi (RB Salzburg), Hugo Ekitike (Stade Reims), Adam Hložek (Sparta Prague)
Dortmund have been linked to many different types of players at the top of the pitch, and it looks as though a deal for Karim Adeyemi of Salzburg is all but confirmed for next season. The German international has had his best goal-scoring season so far, notching 17 goals and 3 assists in 26 league games, as well as 3 goals in 8 Champions League games. The 20-year old is also comfortable operating from the wing and his versatility could be very useful for Marco Rose.

BILD reports that young French striker Ekitike is keen to join Dortmund despite interest from England and that the German club would be able to land him for as little as €20-25 million. The 19-year old has scored 9 goals and assisted 3 in 21 appearances for Stade Reims and his current contract runs until 2024, so a deal in this range could be a coup for Dortmund.

Another player that BILD suggests Dortmund have an interest in is Sparta Prague striker Adam Hložek, a slightly different type of player at the top of the pitch. More of a second striker, Hložek is a creative influence with 13 assists this season to add to his 8 goals. These numbers are impressive for another young player at just 19 years old and would certainly help Dortmund to fill part of the void left by Haaland.

So, what should Borussia Dortmund's summer business look like?

SIGN: Flekken, Schlotterbeck, Clauss, Raum/Bensebaini, Kamara, Neuhaus, Hložek, Adeyemi
SELL: Hitz, Akanji, Zagadou, Guerreiro, Schulz, Meunier, Passlack, Can, Hazard, Haaland
LOAN: Tigges, Moukoko

Potential lineup for next season:

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