Borussia Dortmund has to deal with the losses of Ilkay Gündogan, Mats Hummels and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. BVB boss Hans-Joachim Watzke speaks about the overhaul, the aims for the next season, and additional signings in an interview with dpa. Find our translation here…
At the beginning of the summer break you completely ruled out that three key-players (Mkhitaryan, Hummels, Gündogan) would leave the club at the same time…
Watzke: “Chronologically that is not entirely true. I said that while the last season was still going on. From the talks we held, I had the clear impression that Mkhitaryan would stay. That was a false judgement call by me, I will stand by that.
Now Mkhitaryan is playing elsewhere. What changed your mind?
Watzke: “First of all, I never anticipated that any club would make such a valuable offer for a player with only one year left on his contract. Second of all, Mkhitaryan left certain impressions on the field in the recent past – not only for me.
Hence we altered our decision in the end. You are stuck, if you remain stubborn in your assessment of a situation in such a quick-moving business as football with constant new developments. I’d rather take the blame for one false assessment.”
Mkhitaryan was deemed as one of Thomas Tuchel’s favourites. How did he take the news?
Watzke: “Obviously the coach doesn’t say: ‘I find it great that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will play Europa League for Manchester United.’ But a transfer always consists of three key-aspects. One strategic, one sporting and one economical aspect. The coach only assess the sporting aspect, which means the other two aspects must have made the difference in the end. I’m very thankful that Thomas is supporting our decision with solidarity.”
The €100 million earned on those transfers surely offer some solace…
Watzke: “We do not comment on numbers. However, our problem in general is that there are six or seven clubs that are bigger than Borussia Dortmund – much bigger from an economical standpoint.
Is BVB just a stepping stone in the eyes of young talents?
Watzek: “Five years ago our annual wage bill was at €40 million and we won the championship back then. Today our wage bill lies around €100 million.
That means: We are growing and try to keep up. But bigger clubs are also growing and are able to pay €200 million in wages each year.
Obviously we can’t match up to that yet, which is why we have to undergo this Sisyphean task. We have to push that stone up the mountain only to eventually see it drop down again when a player leaves us.”
But this time it’s three players…
Watzke: “Yes, it’s more than usual. We are heading into a transitional season. However, we won’t give up on our ambitions.”
Some say the overhaul is brave. Other say it’s risky to replace experience with talent. Who is right?
Watzke: “There is no alternative to our way. Mats Hummels cannot be replaced like for like. There are only four or five players of his calibre, who usually do not join Borussia Dortmund. But you have to keep in mind that our way has led to many finals and titles in the past.
Which is why we don’t bemoan the situation, but see it as a challenge. We have the know-how to replace star players adequately. We showed that often enough in the past.”
There were headlines such as ‘The biggest overhaul in club history’ and ‘Rebuild instead of Bayern-chase.’ Do you share these sentiments?
Watzke: “The biggest overhaul in club history? That’s nonsense. But it’s certainly the biggest of the last decade. We want to build a new hungry and strong team, similar to the teams in 2011 and 2012. Even Jürgen Klopp needed time to form a highly talented squad to a championship winning team. We will give Thomas Tuchel the same amount of time.”
And what about the headline regarding the ‘Bayern-chase’?
Watzke: “We are not chasing Bayern, although we’ve been a bit closer last season. Whoever proclaims to be in the hunt for Bayern needs a reality check. With Hummels, Bayern have gained incredible quality. Hummels, Boateng, Neuer – I don’t see how Bayern will concede many goals next season.”
Are BVB still on the outlook for new players despite having spent €60 million so far?
Watzke: “We will become active on the transfer market. Sporting director Michael Zorc, Thomas Tuchel and I came to that conclusion.”
BVB are linked with André Schürrle and Karim Bellarabi – or will it be Mario Götze in the end?
Watzke: “We don’t comment on that.”
But maybe you can comment on Jakub Blaszczykowski. He will return from his loan to Fiorentina. Is he part of BVB’s plans for the coming season?
Watzke: “Kuba achieved great things for us and is a highly esteemed player. He will turn 31 this year, just played the Euros and currently is on vacation. We will sit down and talk and make a decision after that.”
What are Borussia Dortmund’s aims for the next season?
Watzke: “We are fully aware that we might have a stuttering start due to the big overhaul. But we signed highly talented players, who already have a name in Europe. We will stay ambitious. Qualifying for the Champions League will be our aim for the 2016/2017 season.”