As the summer transfer window approaches, one of the most-discussed clubs in Europe is Champions League runners-up Dortmund. Although their policy in recent years has been to limit transfer expenditures, the sale of Mario Gotze to Bayern has left a huge void—and given BVB a considerable €37 million to spend on his replacement.
Many names have been shortlisted as replacements for Gotze, among them is Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen. The Dane confirmed talks with BVB in May, and on Sunday spoke glowingly of the Ruhr club. With his contract set to expire next summer, he is in a strong position to negotiate his departure. And should he join Dortmund, he would make an excellent addition to Jurgen Klopp's squad.
The first thing about replacing Gotze that Dortmund must accept is that it is a fool's errand. Not only his tremendously rare talent, but his exact combination of attributes and meaning to the club are irreplaceable. But someone must take the No. 10 shirt at BVB, and the club must move on.
Although Gotze was one of the very best players in the Bundesliga last season, at 20 years of age, he wasn't the finished article. When Dortmund sold him, they lost a potential Ballon d'Or winner, but a player who was not necessarily their best attacker at the time he left.
Eriksen is only four months older than Gotze, and had a similarly glowing season at Ajax. He scored 10 goals and gave 17 assists in the Eredivisie, and was man-of-the-match in his side's 3-1 upset of Manchester City in October. In the Champions League, he played a direct part in five goals in six games—very impressive figures for a player who was still just 20 years of age and facing the likes of City, Real Madrid and Dortmund.
Like Gotze, Eriksen is first a playmaker, second a scorer. The Dane can find the net himself, but his primary duty at Dortmund would be to get the ball to Marco Reus and the main striker. Eriksen's touch, dribbling and explosiveness are not quite up to par with Gotze, but are still elite. The Ajax man's tremendous stamina makes him a perfect fit at BVB, and the Ajax man still has plenty of yet-untapped potential. It's entirely possible, if not probable, that in a year or two he will be at the level Gotze was at in 2012-13—especially under Klopp's tutelage and with the support of many world-class stars.
Even without the injured Gotze, BVB were able to push Bayern to the limit in the Champions League final. Their performance was far greater than that which Barcelona and Juventus mustered in previous rounds. All other things equal, with a playmaker on the level of Gotze in 2012-13 in their squad, perhaps Dortmund could have won the final. Such a playmaker they may soon have in Eriksen.
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