The closing of the transfer window always brings some left-field moves with clubs looking to get a last-minute bargain or trying to seal a big deal to appease the fans. Borussia Dortmund’s signing of German international striker Niclas Füllkrug took many observers by surprise and the questions as to it’s wisdom are already being asked.
There is no doubting that last season’s Bundesliga joint-top scorer is a quality number nine and that he had to move on from Werder Bremen to take his game to the next level and test himself on the European stage, but Borussia Dortmund as his destination has raised more than a few eyebrows.
The transfer fee is reported to be in the region of €13 million and the 30-year-old has signed a deal at the Signal Iduna Park until 2026. Financially the move makes good sense with BVB getting Germany’s number one striker on the back of two successful goalscoring seasons, but the acquisition does pose more questions than it answers.
The first question that needs to addressed is why those in power at the club have decided to spend their remaining transfer budget on a striker, when they have more urgent positions that require strengthening. A further quality central defender was thought to be a priority with the club linked with a move for German international Armel Bella-Kotchap from Southampton.
Another reinforcement at fullback was another position they club were being urged to address, but instead they have gone looked to spend the money adding more firepower. The club have Sebastien Haller and Youssoufa Moukoko and also have the option of playing either Donyell Malen or Karim Adeyemi up front, so the purchase of Füllkrug has befuddled some.
A change of formation?
Does the signing of Füllkrug mean that Edin Terzic is thinking about playing with a twin strike force now? If he is going to stick to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation then Haller and Füllkrug are going to have to share the game time and that means less football than either are used to.
Füllkrug has really blossomed over the past two years playing in a two-man forward unit alongside partner Marvin Dücksch. Could that be an option going forward for BVB?
A two man strike force with Malen and Adeyemi providing the crosses from the flanks and Julian Brandt instigating things from behind does have its merits, but it would mean tinkering with the formation that served them so well in the second half of last season.
A 4-4-2 or a 4-1-3-2 formation would allow Terzic to play both Haller and Füllkrug, but would mean abandoning the ‘Doppelsechs’ leaving Emre Can to hold the centre ground. If you a picking your strongest line-up, then Brandt, Adeyemi and Malen have to start. This would leave Youssoufa Moukoko in the same role he has now- an impact sub for the main striker.
A second option would be to go with three at the back, allowing Ramy Bensebaini and Julian Ryserson/ Marius Wolf the freedom to provide the width as the wingbacks.
Keeping faith with the current 4-2-3-1- formation would mean sacrificing either Haller or Füllkrug. It is hard to imagine that the new striker has signed for the club in the knowledge that he is going to the back-up to Sebastien Haller. In the season before the European Championships are held in Germany, the Nationalmannschaft’s main striker will want to be a regular starter for his club and having topped the scoring charts last season, sitting on the bench is not the career progression he was looking for.
What about Moukoko?
Last season the Schwarzgelben seemed to move heaven and earth to persuade young striker Youssoufa Moukoko to stay at the club when his contract was expiring. The teenager would have had no shortage of lucrative offers from elsewhere in Germany and abroad had he opted to run down his contract and leave on a free.
The signing of Füllkrug must now feel like a slap in the face and diminish his potential game time even further. If Dortmund keep with the single striker and Füllkrug is the back-up, would it not be best for Moukoko to be loaned out somewhere. He too wants to make the German national team squad for next summer’s Euros and sitting on the bench is not going to further his case with Hansi Flick.
At Bayer Leverkusen for example, you can see the long-term, joined-up thinking to their transfer policy, whereas with Borussia Dortmund, moves like this one seem more ad-hoc and not fully logical. The move might end up being a masterstroke and we’ll be made to eat our words. Then again…
© BundesligaFanatic (2023)