Matthias Ginter a Shrewd Pickup for Dortmund, but It's Not Without Risks

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Matthias Ginter a Shrewd Pickup for Dortmund, but It's Not Without Risks
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund have confirmed, via their official website, the signing of Matthias Ginter from Freiburg on a five-year deal.

The 20-year-old is, technically, a FIFA World Cup winner, having traveled as part of Joachim Low's victorious 23-man squad to Brazil, although he didn't see a single minute on the pitch.

Ginter excelled for Freiburg last season in a variety of roles, and while his bread and butter is in central defence, his versatility will be key to bagging him minutes at Signal Iduna Park.

At €10 million, this is an exceptional pickup from Jurgen Klopp, who kills two—if not three!—birds with one stone, but it's also a pretty big risk for Ginter to take so early in his career.

Borussia Dortmund have three very competent centre-backs: World Cup winner Mats Hummels, the injured Neven Subotic and the quietly impressive Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

With very little chance of the side switching to a three-man defensive system—see Dortmund's dismal loss to Schalke 04 in the Revierderby in 2012 as an example of why—Ginter needs to oust someone or move to midfield.

There, Ilkay Gundogan is set to return to the team after an entire year out, while Sven Bender reigns supreme in the holding role. Nuri Sahin has another year in Dortmund, Milos Jojic is a project and Henrikh Mkhitaryan has a lot of proving to do. Sebastian Kehl, 34, provides captaincy and cover.

But the good (selfish) news as far as Ginter is concerned is that this team is historically injury prone and frequently turn up to matches with two or three key players missing.

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Subotic's ACL means he's lost a year, Hummels often sustains niggles and Bender ducks out a lot; Ginter can fill in anywhere required.

But that in itself is the personal risk he takes: guaranteed playing time, yes, but in an assortment of positions that could hold up his development as a player.

It's never easy when you chop and change roles, and there's a reason why, historically, "utility players" who can play in many roles rarely make it to the very top of the game. A footballing rhythm is impossible to achieve, and you don't get the chance to hone a certain set of skills over and over.

Versatility for Ginter here is positive, but it's also negative at the same time.

That said, he's growing as a young man, and he's at least three years from the top of his game. Should Subotic fail to return to his prime or Hummels look reluctant to extend, Klopp can turn to Ginter as a No. 1 option in central defence and make him his new pet.

It's difficult for this transfer to go wrong for any party involved, and €10 million is a great price, but it may be a few years before we see the real, finished article from the man wearing No. 28.

Depth and insurance, meanwhile, will have Klopp pulling another trademark grin.

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