According to several German media outlets the transfer of André Schürrle to Dortmund is only a matter of time and money now, while many fans have just one question: why?
My first reaction to those rumours was also: why? Directly followed by: but Tuchel has to have some kind of a plan, right?
So let’s take a look at what this plan might look like. What could be the reasoning behind Tuchel and Dortmund’s wanting Schürrle?
First of all we have to take a look at André Schürrle as a player and what he brings to the table.
Schürrle’s biggest strength is arguably his speed and athleticism, which enables him to cover large parts of the pitch on the counter, with a good right foot and great awareness for counter-attacking situations.
When playing on the left wing, he likes to cut inside on his right foot and shoot from there. When he’s fielded on the right wing, he often stays wide to stretch the opposing defense and can deliver some nice passes inside or use his speed to break through on the flank.
Another option would be to play him up front as a striker, where he can use his speed in counter-attacking situations to run into channels or utilize his decent link-up play when it comes to shorter passes and combination play. This was also the position Tuchel often used him in when they worked together in Mainz.
So why could Dortmund need a player like that?
In many aspects Schürrle resembles Marco Reus and, as we recently learned, it’s still unclear when Reus will return to the pitch. It also remains to be seen how many games per week he will be able to play when he eventually returns. IF Reus could only play one game per week, for example, it would suddenly make more sense to bring in a similar player.
Does that alone justify a possible five-year contract and an enormous fee? Probably not.
But there are more possible reasons.
The first one is more or less a hypothetical point as of now. Last season, Dortmund’s only backup to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front was Adrian Ramos, who did score numerous goals in relatively meaningless games but didn’t perform well in the bigger ones.
That’s where Schürrle could come into play. He may not only be a back-up to Reus but also to Aubameyang, especially should Ramos decide he wants to leave the club after all.
Secondly, with the transfer of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Reus’ injury there are no proven wingers left in Dortmund’s squad. While Ousmane Dembélé, Emre Mor and Christian Pulisic are all undoubtedly hugely talented, it might be too much to ask them to play lots of minutes without another more experienced winger coming in. Especially in the Champions League.
Yes, Dortmund will often have to break down deep-sitting teams in the Bundesliga, where Schürrle will likely struggle and would have to play a relatively simple role, much like Reus did last year.
The Champions League might be another story, however.
Like in the games against Bayern Munich, it will be tough to have the majority of the ball in games against the big guns in the Königsklasse. Especially without the likes of Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gündogan and Mkhitaryan.
This is where Tuchel might switch to a more counter-attacking approach, a style in which Schürrle thrives, as evident in Wolfsburg’s 2-0 win against Real Madrid last season, for example.
So Schürrle could be more or less a role player in the league but might be a real weapon in the big games.
Furthermore, it should be considered that Dortmund recently lost two German internationals to other clubs and it shouldn’t be understated how positive it could be for the club’s image to sign a new one.
In his first press conference on Tuesday, Tuchel was eager to point out how big a risk they have taken in the transfer window so far, mostly signing young players from abroad, without one of these talents knowing the league, the language or the level of football.
While he did say that this risk might get rewarded, Schürrle would be the exact opposite of taking risks. Except for the high fee, maybe.
Schürrle knows the coach, he knows the league and language and even knows most of the teammates and gets along with some of them well. Dortmund and Tuchel know what they would get out of him. He won’t wow them but he’ll probably be a solid player.
Is that enough to spend a club-record fee on him? You decide.
All of this is not to say that Schürrle will necessarily do bad in the Bundesliga. He did score nine goals in the second half of last season. That’s more than Aubameyang managed over that stretch.
But players like Schürrle struggle to create chances for themselves. They need others to advance the ball and give it to them in promising situations and this is an area where Dortmund lack at least one player.
Should that change and Dortmund manage to sign another creative player, the transfer of Schürrle suddenly would seem a lot less frightening.
However, it’s hard to imagine that a team with Aubameyang, Reus and Schürrle would work well in possession. Tuchel probably knows that himself and will have to find ways not to play them at the same time in games where they are expected to have a majority of the ball.
After trying to work out all the positives this deal might bring and trying to understand Tuchel’s thinking, I’m still not convinced – which is not to say that Tuchel might not have a plan which will prove me totally wrong. I sincerely hope he does.
There’s only one thing left to write, finally: It isn’t Schürrle’s fault that Dortmund want him and the high fee isn’t either. Should he join Dortmund he deserves the support of the fans just like every other player playing for this club.