After a rough patch riddled with countless injuries, Borussia Dortmund managed to beat Hamburger SV away (miracle!) and Bayern Munich on home turf for the first time in four years. They are now sitting just three points behind them and six points behind table-toppers RB Leipzig. Might Dortmund, in the first season after losing their three best players, be ready to challenge for the title?
Well, probably not quite with the current squad but there is one particularly interesting transfer rumour which could change things for Dortmund.
The rumour being states Mahmoud Dahoud could join the club in January, possibly in exchange for cash and Nuri Sahin, a player who would fit nicely next to Christoph Kramer. A great summary of Dahoud’s strengths by The Yellow Wall writer Lars Pollmann can be found here.
It’s true that a move in the summer does seem more likely at this point, but let’s just assume otherwise and ask what exactly would change for Tuchel and his players should Dahoud join the team come the winter break.
As good as most of the summer transfers have been, Dortmund perhaps failed at one specific point: They didn’t really bring in a player who could link midfield to attack and break down defensive structures in the opponent’s midfield when needed. Something Ilkay Gündogan happened to be incredibly good at.
Now, some people might argue that Mario Götze and Raphael Guerreiro can do exactly that and those people aren’t necessarily wrong. But Götze is at his very best when he gets between midfield and the defensive line of an opponent deep in their third. He is also capable of bringing the ball up and distributing it, but having him do that would at least partly take away his biggest strength. It also seems like he has simply taken over Shinji Kagawa’s spot in the team so Gündogan’s still needs filling.
Here Guerreiro comes into play. He has shown the potential to do exactly what has been missing without Gündogan, but Guerreiro is also the first back-up at left-back for Marcel Schmelzer. Whenever Schmelzer is injured or needs a break, Guerreiro will likely move out of midfield. And the Portuguese himself will need a break or two himself.
That, or when Götze is absent, is when things become problematic. The back-ups in central midfield are Kagawa and Gonzalo Castro. Castro can do a great job against most teams and is especially prolific in a more advanced position, but he does struggle in the deeper role, in tight spaces and against aggressive pressing. As for Kagawa… well, his most consistent trait of late seems to be his inconsistency and his strengths are also in a more offensive role.
This is where Dahoud would help. His strengths have been well-covered and they represent precisely what Dortmund seem to need. It would ease the burden on Guerreiro (and Schmelzer as well) and on Götze and would enable Tuchel to rotate in central midfield without a major loss in quality.
Especially in the Bundesliga, where most teams either defend deep and compact against BVB or press aggressively up the pitch, a transfer of Dahoud could mean a great deal.
The one major downside to a transfer in the winter, from a sporting point of view, would be Dahoud’s being cup-tied for the UEFA Champions League. But, since the emphasis seems to be on the Bundesliga anyway, this shouldn’t be too big of a blow.
So what could all that mean for Borussia Dortmund’s shot at the domestic title?
Should the Black and Yellows still be in contention come the winter break and manage to add Dahoud to the squad, I wouldn’t put it past Tuchel’s men to mount a serious title challenge and come out on top.
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