Nuri Sahin has fallen down the pecking order and his future at Borussia Dortmund is more questionable than ever. Dortmund boss Watzke already has to answer questions about a potential sale.
“The fans know how I will decide,” Nuri Sahin said in 2011 just weeks before his transfer to Real Madrid was made official – not the way fans had hoped.
Five years later, back at Borussia Dortmund, the central midfielder knows how his coach decides – and not they way he had hoped.
Sahin is yet to be included in the squad of BVB’s arguably still very young season and it doesn’t seem like it will change anytime soon.
Despite the departure of Ilkay Gündogan, Sahin is too far down in the pecking order to get the nod from Thomas Tuchel. Hence speculation about the midfielder’s future has already started.
After all, he is not just any Dortmund player but one who was poised for bigger things, because he has shown what he is capable of for everyone to see before he left the Westfalenstadion. It’s safe to say that Sahin is one of the fan favourites and his word his heard in the dressing room.
However, it’s been a while since Sahin made headlines on the football field.
The midfielder has only made 21 appearances in the last two seasons due to several injuries. He didn’t even look close to being on the fitness level that is required to play Bundesliga football in the previous campaign.
In February, Tuchel had a spark in his eyes when talking about the prospect of a fit Sahin. “He will be of extraordinary importance for us,” the Dortmund coach said.
On Saturday’s post-match conference following BVB’s 2-0 win over Mainz, Tuchel tried to play down Sahin’s situation.
He said: “The competition is huge. We started with Sebastian Rode and Gonzalo Castro in central-midfield. Julian Weigl is currently the one who is coming from the bench. At the moment they are one step ahead.
“Sahin joined the team later in pre-season and although he is training on a very high level, he has some backlog. He still lacks athleticism – which is why it’s not a case of hardship. Nuri is still an important part of the team. ”
Borussia Dortmund could have used a fit Nuri Sahin on top of his game on Saturday. Their build-up left a lot to be desired, as 11tegen11 displayed on Twitter.
— 11tegen11 (@11tegen11) August 27, 2016
Statsbomb‘s Dustin Ward underlined in his article just how disconnected from the attack Dortmund’s central midfield really was. He wrote that on average Rode and Castro’s passes travelled about 2.5 yards away from goal.
Back in the day, Nuri Sahin would have just been what the doctor ordered to re-install that connection. But at present, the Turkey international is down the pecking order, while Julian Weigl seems to be the answer to Borussia Dortmund’s structural problems in midfield.
In a video interview with Deutsche Welle, Weigl reiterated that he wants to assume more of a playmaking role for the Black and Yellows. The 20-year-old had a 91% pass completion rate in the previous campaign but often refrained from the risky pass forward in order to keep his side in possession.
Dortmund fans could already see in the first minute after Weigl’s substitution that the Dortmund star is putting his money where his mouth is. He received the ball from Sokratis, turned around and found Kagawa all in one flowing move. Kagawa could funnel the ball through to Schürrle, who pulled it back to Sebastian Rode.
Rode’s effort didn’t find the back of the net, but it gave everyone in the Westfalenstadion a good taste of what’s to come with a playmaking Weigl. The youngster is the quick and agile future of Borussia Dortmund and fans are desperate for him to extend his contract, which currently expires in 2019.
Meanwhile, Nuri Sahin has a defining season ahead of him. He is still the youngest Bundesliga debutant to date, but the historic mark is holding little value 11 years later. If the central midfielder cannot find a way back to the limelight in a Dortmund shirt it will most likely be his last season at the club – unless he is happy with staying on the fringes.
CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke told der Westen on Tuesday that he is reluctant to sell Sahin.
“That wouldn’t be good because he came through our youth ranks. He is a player we’re clinging on to because he’s such a nice guy and an extraordinary footballer,” he said.
The clock is ticking for Sahin, who has to fight his way past Castro, Rode, and Weigl to gain some valuable playing time. The season is still young and the central midfielder has every chance to do so – but if he cannot make it count under Tuchel, he might have to start looking for playing time elsewhere.