Adam Darowski polled BVB fans about who they like to stay or go this summer with a looming squad overhaul. Read the results of part 2 of the survey here.
Earlier in the week, I shared the results of my survey about Borussia Dortmund’s upcoming “squad overhaul.” That article focused on what the 837 survey respondents thought we should do with each individual player. Today, I’ll address which positions voters feel are the most important to improve this summer.
I queried the voters about eight positions (combining center backs into one, wingers in to one, and full backs into one) and gave them five options to choose from for each position:
- Not important at all
- Minimally important
- Somewhat important
- Quite important
- Very important
I then assigned a five-point scale to the responses, with “Not important at all” worth a single point and “Very important” worth five points. Here are the positions, ranked by importance (as determined by their point total).
Striker (3,702 points): It has been quite a while since Dortmund has had to worry this much about the striker position. Since the 2011-12 season, BVB has counted on either Robert Lewandowski or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to knock in 20–40 goals per season. Michy Batshuayi has already netted eight in eleven matches for Dortmund, but it is becoming more and more obvious that he’s unlikely to be in our starting eleven next season. That’s a huge hole to fill and one that doesn’t really have any internal candidates.
Alexander Isak has potential, but he also only has a single senior goal and can’t be counted on to shoulder that type of load immediately. Andre Schürrle has been used in the striker position at Dortmund, but he’s performed so well overall that 304 of 837 voters want him gone in the summer. Maximilian Philipp and Marco Reus are options, but not natural strikers.
Dortmund has shown a willingness to spend for this position, failing to land Racing Club’s Lautaro Martinez despite a reported offer of 40 million €. They’ll need to show both ambition and creativity to bring in the right striker in the summer.
Full Back (3,401 points): Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek have spent the better part of a decade as the first-choice full backs for Dortmund. While their long service has made them club legends, it also means that they are among the oldest players on a club that tries to trend younger (but is having a hard time of doing so lately). The issue with replacing Schmelzer and (perhaps especially) Piszczek is that it’s proven very difficult to actually find players better than them.
There was hope that Felix Passlack could be the heir at right back, but he’s played a grand total of 74 league minutes while on loan at Hoffenheim. Jeremy Toljan was brought in specifically to compete with Piszczek, but in my survey 188 fans said they want Toljan gone while only 18 said the same about Piszczek (161 are in favor of a Schmelzer departure).
Who else is left? Raphaël Guerreiro? It’s clear the team doesn’t see his future at left back. He hasn’t spent a league minute there this season (and has only 28 DFB Pokal and 162 Champions League minutes there). Erik Durm? He hasn’t played a single minute this year and 560 fans called for his release.
Defensive Midfield (3,047 points): With 456 fans calling for Nuri Sahin to move on and Julian Weigl struggling under the Peters Bosz and Stöger, the defensive midfield has definitely become a position ready for reinforcements. I want nothing more than for Julian Weigl to regain the form he routinely exhibited under Thomas Tuchel, but I’m not sure we’re capable of playing that type of system in the near future.
In terms of other internal options, Gonzalo Castro and Sebastian Rode are pretty much what you have (unless you’re willing to drop Mahmoud Dahoud deeper). Castro and Rode (along with Sahin) are all among the top players on the voters’ cut list, so it’s clear that the fan base wants some fresh bodies here. But what everyone really wants is a return to form for Weigl.
Center Back (2,884 points): The defense has had a wild campaign. They started the season with a string of clean sheets and then things quickly fell into disarray. The pairing of Ömer Toprak and Manuel Akanji seems to be evolving into Peter Stöger’s preferred Bundesliga duo—and we can see the pair getting more comfortable before our eyes.
Many fans are calling for the departure of Sokratis. Personally, I feel if he’d be okay with the role of third center back he could still be quite valuable. If Sokratis does indeed depart, Dortmund will definitely need to bring in a replacement. It seems we’ve been linked to Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah forever. Maybe this is the summer it finally happens. It’s going to get even harder to complain about Bayern signing Dortmund’s players if we wind up with both of Leverkusen’s starting center backs.
Central Midfield (2,692 points): We’re now getting into the bottom half of the list—the positions that the fans feel more comfortable about. The emergence of Mahmoud Dahoud definitely has fans feeling better about the central midfield. The only other natural CMs in the squad are the out-of-favor Castro and Rode, though Mario Götze has appeared in the deeper role a few times this season.
This is also the position where Raphaël Guerreiro has played the most for Dortmund (18 appearances) and also where he has most often been involved in goals (4 goals, 4 assists). If Sahin, Castro, and Rode were all to depart, a replacement would certainly be needed. But that much turnover feels unlikely.
Goalkeeper (2,602 points): Given all the negative press you read about Roman Bürki, I would have thought fans would find the goalkeeper position more of a priority. Backup goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller is also definitely retiring, so the club absolutely has to bring in another keeper. The fact that voters still didn’t see this position as a huge priority shows that the fans don’t place the blame of the shaky defense solely on Bürki’s large paws.
If Bürki was a bit more consistent, he’d be the perfect Bundesliga keeper. But his occasional shaky games (which are interspersed with brilliant ones) show the need for a strong backup keeper at the very least. Perhaps Dortmund will make a run at a current Bundesliga starter like Lukas Hradecky or Timo Horn to challenge Bürki. I would be surprised given the more dramatic needs at the club.
Attacking Midfield (1,984 points): This position isn’t incredibly deep, but two of Dortmund’s most consistent players this season—Mario Götze and Shinji Kagawa—play here. Marco Reus has even appeared here a few times, providing even more depth. If the club did bring in another attacking midfielder, it shouldn’t be someone they expect to see a lot of minutes (although all three players mentioned have struggled with injuries of late).
Wingers (1,685 points): Marco Reus. Christian Pulisic. Maximilian Philipp. Andre Schürrle. Jadon Sancho. Andriy Yarmolenko. Sergio Gómez. For two spots. I agree that we’re probably okay here.
Dortmund has had a couple tumultuous transfer seasons in a row. This year, we’ve had Ousmane Dembélé and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang forcing their way out. The year before that we had the world-class trio of Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gündogan, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan all departing at once. If you were hoping things were going to settle down, think again. We could see the arrival and departure lists nearing (if not exceeding) double digits.
Follow Adam Darowski on Twitter @fussballtwit.