Until recently, news of Dortmund's potential successor to striker Robert Lewandowski was rather limited. With just months remaining before the Polish striker leaves the club on a Bosman, the rumor mill has had little to offer.
But late on Wednesday evening, Bild reported that the Ruhr side intend to make two signings to bolster their forward line: one of Kevin Volland and Adrian Ramos, as well as a big-name striker such as Diego Costa or Jackson Martinez.
Dortmund have in recent years been careful not to spend heavily in the transfer market, but should they make the signings suggested by Bild, they will be forced to splash cash like never before. The obvious question that follows is: Can BVB actually afford such signings?
Before going on, it's important to determine exactly how much each target would actually cost Dortmund. Ramos would likely be the least expensive; he is 27 and plays for a rather small club, Hertha BSC, where he has a contract that will expire in 2015. He therefore is in a strong position to negotiate a move.
Transfermarkt rates Ramos' value at €4 million; this will likely increase in the coming months given his prolific form in the first half of the 2013-14 campaign, but an offer in the region of €7 million or so should be sufficient. Fitting into the Hertha financial structure, Ramos' wages will be no problem for BVB to pay.
Reportedly BVB's preferred choice over Ramos, Volland will be a trickier player to land and will certainly cost more. The 21-year-old's contract with Hoffenheim does not expire until 2017, so the club will not be forced to sell.
Volland is said to be on the radar of Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United, as well as Chelsea, Tottenham and Bayern Munich, so Dortmund will have to fend off some hefty competition for his signature.
Volland's value, according to Transfermarkt, was €12 million as of November 5, but the number of interested clubs and the long duration of his contract can inflate his cost further: €15 million may not be enough, and depending on his performance in the second half of the season, he could fetch a transfer fee in excess of €20 million.
Costa is one of Europe's most coveted strikers now, but there will be no bidding war for his release from Atletico Madrid. The Brazil native has a buyout clause that Bild claims to be €24 million, while Daily Mail has claimed it to be closer to €38 million.
In any case, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool have reportedly been interested in signing the prolific 25-year-old. All three clubs are attractive options, especially if they qualify for Champions League football next season, and all will be able to offer the player sky-high wages. It would be no surprise if he were paid €8 million per season in his next contract.
Martinez would be the most expensive striker on Dortmund's radar, with a buyout clause reported by Marca to be €40 million. That same report claimed interest from Real Madrid, while Chelsea and Arsenal have also been linked with the player, who could yet extend his contract at Porto.
As with Costa, Dortmund would have to convince the player to turn down other big clubs and offer a competitive (and presumably very high) salary.
If Dortmund are to meet their attacking transfer targets, they will have to spend in the order of €60 million (20 percent more than their record of €50 million, spent in the summer of 2013) and likely add some €10 million per year to their wage bill. And this is before transfers for the midfield and defense are considered.
Although it might appear that Dortmund's targets are out of reach, the club can actually afford to invest heavily in the next transfer window. BVB earned a record €305 million last season, with profits of €53.3 million. As recently as 2011, their turnover was just €138.5 million; suffice to say, growth has been massive in recent years.
Last season's turnover included nearly €45 million in transfer income that cannot be expected next summer, as well as over €54 million awarded by UEFA for their run to the Champions League final. Should they beat Zenit in the round of 16 and reach the the quarterfinals, Dortmund can expect to lose no more than €20 million in revenue relative to the previous season.
Discounting €45 million plus €20 million from their €305 million turnover leaves Dortmund at €240 million. But despite losses in transfer income and a possible loss in Champions League revenue, BVB can expect more revenue in other areas.
The Bundesliga's new TV deal with Sky took effect this season and will increase revenue in the league by 52 percent.
For BVB, who finished second last season, this means an increase of approximately €13 million from their most recent figure of €25 million. The club also secured a lucrative sponsorship with Turkish Airlines that will add an estimated €2 million to their coffers, as well as similar deals with telecom giants Lebara, Polish window and door company Oknoplast and hardware retailer Poco.
Through sponsorships, increased retail sales, advertising and matchday revenue, BVB increased their turnover by 15 percent for the first quarter of 2013-14 relative to the first quarter of the previous year.
Should this hold constant for the remainder of the year, excluding transfers, it means a revenue increase of €39 million. Even excluding sales, the club can realistically target a €300 million turnover.
Can Dortmund, at around €300 million in revenue, afford to spend €60 million on attacking players? For comparison, consider the transfer expenditures of the enormously successful (in sporting and financial terms) Bayern Munich.
In 2006-07, the club earned €223.3 million. The next summer, they spent a whopping €88 million on the likes of Franck Ribery, Miroslav Klose, Luca Toni, Marcell Jansen, Breno and more. Subtracting sales, their net spending was €52 million.
In 2008-09, the club earned €289.5 million but spent €30 million to sign Mario Gomez and €24 million to bring in Arjen Robben from Real Madrid. The Bavarians' net transfer spending that summer was in the amount of €52 million.
Splashing cash in the transfer market brings back unsavory memories at Dortmund; shortly after the turn of the millennium, the likes of Marcio Amoroso and Evanilson were signed at sky-high prices, but the club nonetheless suffered on a sporting level and lost their status as a big player in the Champions League.
Even if their big-name signings don't make the expected impression, Dortmund have enough quality elsewhere to qualify consistently for Champions League football and continue to draw their devoted fans to the Signal-Iduna Park in superlative numbers.
If Bayern, whose operating expenses in both years were much higher (due to their greater wages) than Dortmund's at present, could spend a hemorrhaging €52 million in net transfer expenditures in two out of three seasons while bringing in less revenue than BVB will in 2013-14, the Signal-Iduna Park outfit can absolutely afford to do the same next summer.
It should be noted that Bayern did take a great risk in the transfer market especially in the summer of 2007.
But fortune favors the brave and if Dortmund are to become a consistent, recognized power in European football, they will have to take advantage of their current status as an attractive club on the rise. They will have to do as Bayern once did and take a chance.