The fanaticism that has engulfed Internet message boards and Twitter trends throughout the summer offseason every time a player is heavily linked with a move to Dortmund has been rather spectacular.
Whether it was Kevin de Bruyne, Heung-min Son, Christian Eriksen or the latest high-flying forward linked to the club, Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Shakhtar Donetsk, Dortmund fans have made their feelings incredibly clear: they need new signings.
A statement that would strike most as rather obvious considering the recent departure of wonderkid extraordinaire, Mario Gotze, yet Dortmund have still to offer the team or its fans a genuine replacement.
In fact, Dortmund haven’t really done anything this summer. Aside from the notable signing of Sokratis from Werder Bremen—a solid third-choice defender, it must be said—the club have yet to bring in a single attacking player despite losing Leonardo Bittencourt and Moritz Leitner—two young players who many Dortmund fans expected to be promoted this season—as well as the aforementioned Gotze to Bayern Munich, and Felipe Santana to Schalke.
Of course the club never got to where they are now by bulk-buying in the transfer market, yet the recent purchases made by clubs around Dortmund at the top of the German Bundesliga should begin to alarm fans. Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke are investing heavily this summer, and as things stand, they may well catch them.
Schalke, Dortmund’s local rivals and twice victors last season, have strengthened heavily this summer with the immediate signing of Felipe Santana—a defender with more to offer than Dortmund obviously considered—as well as the highly rated, young winger Christian Clemens from FC Koln.
The Royal Blues are also expected to announce the signing of Mainz striker Adam Szalai as well as Leon Goretzka—one of the most promising youngsters in German football at the moment—in the coming weeks, with the latter being subject to a legal case the player has taken out against his former club, VfL Bochum.
Such signings offer a real platform for Schalke to push on for second or third place next season, with Santana offering an able replacement for the retiring Christoph Metzelder while Christian Clemens will naturally fit in to Schalke’s basic front-three system alongside fellow German prodigy, Julian Draxler.
Szalai offers an obvious alternative to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s very direct style of play as well as cover for a position that has tended to plague Schalke over the past few seasons. If the deal goes through, Schalke will no longer be dependant on the likes of Ciprian Marica and Teemu Pukki, which can only be considered a good thing.
Oddly enough, what Schalke could possibly achieve in the capture of Clemens and Goretzka is two young players who could have quite feasibly been playing in the yellow of Dortmund, had the club been savvy enough to their availability.
With Bittencourt and Leitner leaving this summer to chase first-team football, Dortmund will be short of young, exciting players for the first time in quite a while.
Another club close to Dortmund’s borders are Bayer Leverkusen. The club which finished third last season under Sami Hyypia have also been spending wisely this summer and look even more dangerous than the formidable side of the last campaign.
The most obvious addition to Bayer’s lineup is the young, Korean forward Heung-min Son from Hamburg, who comes in to the side as a direct replacement for the Chelsea-bound Andre Schurrle.
What’s most striking thing about this transfer is the manner in which Son signed for Leverkusen—announcing that he had picked the factory Squad over the previous champions—declaring, if anything, that Leverkusen are just as capable of signing a similar quality of player.
Alongside the South Korean forward, Bayer has done well to pick up Giulio Donati and Robbie Kruse from Inter Milan and Fortuna Dusseldorf, respectively. One, a young full-back with the talent and promise to replace the departed Daniel Carvajal, the other an equally promising forward who has already shown his worth in the Bundesliga. Two young, imaginative signings who could prove decisive in the season ahead for Bayer Leverkusen.
What will bother Dortmund fans the most is just how well some of these signings would have suited their own side. Son is the obvious one, but young players such as Christian Clemens and Giulio Donati always excite fans, while Robbie Kruse and Adam Szalai would have went a long way to relinquishing the club’s dependency on want-away striker Robert Lewandowski.
In this sport, an off-season can just as easily be defined by who a club don’t sign as it may have been for who they do sign. For Dortmund, either is just as important. For as long as they continue to keep out of the transfer market, their opponents will continue gaining ground.