Borussia Dortmund kick-off their 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign with a home clash with Köln at the Signal Iduna Park with every intention wiping their last home performance from their memories and embarking on another tilt at dethroning perennial champions Bayern Munich. Last season saw them come agonisingly close, missing out on goal difference, but the question arises as to whether the club have been active enough in the transfer window to strengthen Edin Terzic’s squad in preparation for another serious title challenge (particularly in light of Bayern’s spending).
The story so far
The big transfer news from Dortmund’s point of view was the expected departure of star midfielder Jude Bellingham to Real Madrid. The English youngster was the driving force last season, but at least his inevitable move brought in a €100 million transfer fee. His nominal replacement is Felix Nmecha from VfL Wolfsburg for €30 million and despite some early opposition from some sections of the fan base, the 22- year-old has settled well and looked good in the recent friendly with Ajax scoring two goals.
Raphael Guerreiro left for Bayern on a free, but the arrival of Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Ramy Bensebaini will cover his absence. The Portuguese however did adapt well last season to a new advanced midfield role- something the Algerian won’t necessarily be able to do.
The purchase of Marcel Sabitzer looks a good piece of business. The Austrian began last season in fine form for Bayern and then had an impressive spell on loan at Manchester United where he certainly didn’t let anyone down. His acquisition will give Edin Terzic additional options in midfield and if Sabitzer can find himself a regular position at Dortmund, the move could pay dividends for both parties.
That however is the extent of BVB’s spending this summer and with two weeks until the end of the summer transfer window, there is a feeling that the club still needs to get in a few more players if they are to compete right at the top this season.
The areas needing attention
The injury to Nico Schlotterbeck would suggest that Dortmund may need some strengthening in the centre of their defence, particularly in the light of Soumana Coulibaly’s loan move to Royal Antwerp in Belgium.
The club were forced into the market late last summer when Sebastien Haller’s cancer diagnosis saw him become unable to start the season. The signing of Anthony Modeste (now moved o) wasn’t a resounding success and that left Youssoufa Moukoko as the only other option up. Should anything happen to Haller this season, Dortmund could do with another ‘proper’ striker rather than making do with playing their attacking midfielders in an advanced role.
Having signed Bensebaini on the left, another right back would be an area that Dortmund could/ should consider. There is also the question of trying to get rid some of the squad players, who are on big wages, but not really required. Attempts to move on the likes of Thomas Meunier and Thorgan Hazard need to be stepped up.
The official line
Sporting director Sebastian Kehl has said that he is amused by some of the transfer rumours involving Borussia Dortmund, adding that the club will not do anything crazy in the market. “I’m amused by these rumours. Our media department now has fun every year counting all the players that are linked with us. This year, we are currently at 38 names.
“Changing everything at once isn’t going to work anyway. And crazy things don’t work either. We already communicated transparently in the first week of June that we would only be able to invest 60 to 65 percent of Jude Bellingham’s transfer fee back into the squad. So the figures are on the table for everyone to see.
“We don’t feel any pressure. Which is why we’re not letting ourselves be driven by outside forces. We made a very clear analysis after last season. We have a clear plan based on that. And we are successively implementing it.”
The rumour mill
In terms of the three positions we’ve outlined here (centre back, striker and right back), there are of course names being linked with BVB.
Southampton defender Armel Bella-Kotchap is one name being mentioned with the former Bochum centre back relegated last season from the Premier League. Having been called up to the Nationalmannschaft last season, it is unlikely he will want to spend a year in the English Championship if he has plans to make it into the German European Championship squad next summer.
19-year-old Red Star Belgrade defender Stefan Lekovic has been linked as has RB Salzburg’s French centre back Oumar Solet and Anderlecht’s Zeno Debast.
As far as a new striker goes Jean-Philippe Mateta from Crystal Palace has been touted as a potential target and his Bundesliga experience with Mainz would hold him in good stead. PSG’s Hugo Ekitike is being linked with everyone, so why not BVB as well?
At right back, would Dortmund go for newly capped German international Joshua Vagnoman perhaps? VfB Stuttgart seem to be leaking first-team players at the moment, so would be loathe to lose another, but if the price is right and the player is tempted, then who knows?