The signing of Niklas Süle from Bayern Munich along with the arrival of Nico Schlotterbeck from Freiburg was supposed to usher in a new defensive era at Borussia Dortmund with the duo in front of the now-established Gregor Köbel in goal. The start to the new season has not however panned out that way for Süle as he has largely been forced to watch from the sidelines.
The five-times Bundesliga winner has been limited to just 34 minutes from the substitutes bench so far. He was introduced on the hour mark against Werder Bremen and looked far from convincing. He was slow to react to to the throughball that Oliver Burke punished so devastatingly. Against Hertha Berlin he was limited to a five-minute cameo at the end to help shore up the 1-0 lead. The go-to centre back partnership for Edin Terzic has been Schlotterbeck and Mats Hummels, and he hasn’t yet been tempted to play a back three with Süle.
Süle will celebrate his 27th birthday on Saturday, but in all likelihood he will spend the Friday night on the subs bench once again as BVB host his former club Hoffenheim at the Signal Iduna Park. So, what’s going on with the colossal defender?
A thigh injury picked up in the DFB Pokal win over 1860 Munich kept him out of the season openers, but since then questions over his fitness have been raised- something that will have some Bayern fans nodding in acknowledgement. Both during his time at Hoffenheim and Bayern, question marks have been raised regarding his weight and professionalism. Is he often injured because of this, or does being injured often cause it?
The player has previously fought back against such accusations. “The people who bring something like this into the world always only see Niklas Süle, who honestly admits that he likes to eat a burger or drink a beer. Yes and? Do you think other professionals don’t do that?
“If I had been lazy, I would never have won the Champions League after such a serious injury (cruciate ligament rupture.”
Club consultant Matthias Sammer has also spoken out in defence of the player. “Everyone has to deal with prejudices. He needs rhythm and training – then he will play wonderful games for BVB.”
Out of shape or just out of luck right now? Only time will tell. With a mid-season World Cup on the horizon and Hansi Flick facing some difficult decisions about his final squad, Süle will want to be in the first-team and impressing for BVB the Schwarzgelben as soon as possible.