Nothing has lit up the footballing world in recent years quite like the resurrection of Borussia Dortmund. However, it looks like the powerfully potent force that has been established by the mercurial talents of Jũrgen Klopp is slowly collapsing around them as earlier today, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund both confirmed the sale of Dortmund’s 20-year old attacking midfielder, Mario Götze, to their Bundesliga rivals. The transfer, estimated to be around £32 million, is a startling business development between to rivals on the day of Bayern’s, and the eve of Dortmund’s biggest game of the season. And so, twelve eventful months on, Dortmund’s rise to the summit of German football looks to be relinquished in favour of Bayern, a team who have spent numerous decades at the top of their country’s league.
Rewind to May 2012 and the picture is utopia becoming reality for Dortmund. Back-to-back Bundesliga titles confirmed their status as the greatest team in the country whilst disposing of their bitter rivals, Bayern, 4-2 in the German cup final to rub salt into raw wounds signified another delicious triumph for a team battered by financial distress in years past. However, finance was not to be the problem of their latest headache, it’s personnel. The furore erupted soon as a few weeks after the elation of last season’s climax as top scorer, Robert Lewandowski, announced he would not be signing a new contract with the club. The passionate fans of Dortmund were understandably infcensed as news of European football’s superpowers as vigilant vultures began to spread and less than a year later they are forced to confront another huge loss as one of the most promising young talents to emerge in German football has opted to join their bitter rivals for the start of the next campaign.
On the pitch, Dortmund have failed to emulate the brilliance of last season domestically. As with everyone, they have been simply blown away by Bayern’s unquestionable dominance and have been forced to stand-by and watch Munich canter to a title that had been effectively won by Christmas. Another bitter pill to swallow.
However, Jũrgen Klopp, charismatic saviour of the Dortmund cause, has taken Dortmund back to where they fell they belong. After winning the Champions League dramatically in 1997 in a thrilling 3-2 win against Juventus, Dortmund played out a decade in the dark wilderness of European football, failing to exert themselves domestically which inevitably led to a dramatic case of falling of the map. The unity and character of this Dortmund team has proven itself thoroughly in spite of this and Klopp’s men have answered any questions thrown at them regarding their performances in the Europe’s biggest club competition. Finishing top of a group that included Real Madrid, Dortmund have since gone on to impressively eliminate Shaktar Donetsk and Malaga, also chasing an unlikely European dream, to get to where they are now.
Praise and admiration should be thrown vigorously at Klopp, a man who has taken Dortmund from frustrating mediocrity to triumphant dominance in the space of five years. But what will happen now? Götze has been a key player for Dortmund this year, racking up 16 goals in all competitions and performing brilliantly well in one of Europe’s most effective attacking triptych’s- Lewandowski, Reus, Götze.
Next season, Dortmund will only have a third of their lucrative attacking trio left and may struggle to find replacements adequate to play in the revolutionary style that Klopp has adopted. Lewandowski and Götze’s absense may be the crucial factor in determining Dortmund’s success or failure next season. We have witnessed what a difference a transfer can make, but selling a player can leave a hole not necessarily filled by another expensive player. Lewandowski and Götze are efficient products of Dortmund’s system and recruiting replacements, potentially from abroad, may not herald the same devastating effects.
The timing, if anything, is the most curious aspect of Götze’s transfer to Bayern Munich. Klopp has admitted that he knew of the development the day after Dortmund knocked Malaga out of the Champions League but it came as quite a surprise to Dortmund fans who view it as the ultimate act of betrayal. If Lewandowski moved the same way, we could witness the football equivalent of the Bolshevik Revolution from the irate Dortmund fans considering reports of a request by Dortmund for police presence at their training session this morning to ensure the safety of their departing starlet. The transfer news was announced, circulated and confirmed on Tuesday, on the eve of the most important match Dortmund have played in the past 15 years. Derailing the intricate process of preparing for a Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid is exactly what Klopp did not want.
Now, with a tirade of fierce criticism aim directly at him, it will be interesting to see if Götze starts tomorrow night and if not, how Dortmund will perform without him. Klopp has called for fans to understand the transfer and curtail their angered feelings towards him tomorrow night when they entertain Madrid. “For everybody who is angry, all I can say is that, a year ago, we signed Marco Reus from [Borussia] Mönchengladbach and they hardly broke out in celebration there, but he still played some excellent games for Gladbach. We will do all we can to ensure our concentration is not disturbed. When you deal with things in life in the right way, then you can draw energy from them.”
The main focal point for analysis is whether or not Götze’s transfer will be catalytic for Dortmund’s downfall as early as tomorrow night. Certainly they will struggle without him next year. Who knows, Klopp may have a trick up his sleeve and pull of another trick of managerial wizardry to ensure Dortmund stay at the top of the German game along with Bayern. This is mere speculation clearly; it could prove to be beneficial for Dortmund. If they play their cards right in the transfer market and undergo a concentrated pre-season programme implementing any recruits, they may find themselves continuing to challenge for the Bundesliga title. As for Götze, becoming the most expensive German player ever is a personal accomplishment, but we won’t soon be forgotten by the passionate Dortmund fans for what they see as the ultimate traitorous act.
- Bayern Munich vs. Barcelona- Tonight at 7:45pm (ITV)
- Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid at 7:45pm (SkySports2)