On Tuesday 23rd April Mario Götze announced that he had completed a move to rivals Bayern Munich at the end of the season for €37million. The news cut the normally enigmatic Borussia Dortmund manager, Jürgen Klopp deep. Losing one of your best players to your nearest and greatest domestic rival when there is nothing you can do stop it would hurt any coach. Klopp was no different and he later admitted in an interview with The Guardian that it felt like a heart attack and that he cancelled public events planned for that evening as he could not speak.
One day later Die Schwarzgelben, Dortmund’s nickname which translates to ‘The Black Yellows’, had to play Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final. Media outlets across the globe were expressing their concerns as to whether Borussia would be able to focus on the fixture and how the impact of Götze’s impending departure would affect them. Pundits were predicting that a Madrid side which boasted the phenomenal Cristiano Ronaldo and were managed by “The Special One” Jose Mourinho would put Klopp’s men to the sword.
90 minutes later however the scoreboard told a different story as it read “Borussia Dortmund 4 -1 Real Madrid”.
It was a performance fitting of Jürgen Klopp’s team. Upon his arrival in 2008, he began a revolutionary rebuilding process after the club had suffered it’s worst league position in 20 years and a serious financial crisis. His tactical ethos of pressing the opposition high up the pitch and transitioning rapidly with ball from defence to attack coupled with his quest to find young, hungry players willing to work hard and sacrifice their needs for the benefit of the team soon brought success. The under riding mentality Klopp has instilled across the club has been to strive for success through pragmatism.
With the summer transfer window now open and Mario Götze starting his pre-season training 607km south east of Dortmund under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage at Bayern, Klopp has begun restructuring his side once more. This is not an unfamiliar feeling. For the past 3 summers Borussia have found themselves needing to evolve their squad after key players have left. In when Shinji Kagawa departed for Manchester United it became arguably the key factor in the progression of both Marco Reus and Götze as the pair blossomed for club and country last season. In the summer of 2011, Nelson Valdez departed as Klopp gave Robert Lewandowski, who had a slow start to his Dortmund career previously, the chance to start as the club’s leading striker. Lewandowski rewarded his coach with 30 goals across all competitions and his first Bundesliga title.
This season Borussia have completed deals for Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang along with the latest recruit Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos is a 25-year old Greek central defender with 37 caps who has excelled in the Bundesliga with Werder Bremen since 2011. He previously spent 2 and a half seasons in Italy with Genoa and AC Milan and has champions league experience. Sokratis, as he is known for short, was the first player to be sent off in Euro 2012 following two controversial yellow cards against Poland.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also spent time with AC Milan as he is a product of the Rossoneri’s youth system. A quick 24 year old striker capable of playing as a wide forward, Aubameyang though born in France, plays for his adopted country of Gabon. Last season was his most prolific in front of goal for Saint Etienne as he finished the Ligue 1 campaign with 19 goals. Aubameyang most notably scored in all three group games of the 2012 African Cup Of Nations before having his penalty kick saved in the shootout as Gabon were eliminated in the quarter finals.
The latest reports suggests that the Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitaryan will join Dortmund for a fee around €25million. An attacking midfielder by trade, he scored a staggering 25 league goals alone last season for Shakhtar Donetsk playing in the centre of a 4-2-3-1 system. He can operate as a deep lying midfielder and is a player capable of finding space and of course, he has a ruthless eye for goal.
And so with a defender, attacker and prospectively another midfielder on board for next season, Klopp has immediately addressed 2 key areas of concern to him – the loss of Götze and a lack of strength in depth beyond his first choice starting line up. As Dortmund look to begin their quest to reclaim the Bundesliga and go one step further in Europe and win Champions League these three acquisitions look to be the perfect fit.
As always with Jürgen Klopp, the aim for Dortmund is for this continual evolution to be as seamless as some of Die Schwarzgelben’s finest transitions
Pep Guardiola and Bayern Munich need to be ready for battle this season. There is life after Götze and this new version of Borussia Dortmund are already waiting for war. Roll on 13/14!!