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Mitchell Langerak: Will Borussia Dortmund Backup Ever Become No. 1?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentNovember 28, 2014

AP Images

Mitchell Langerak is in his fifth season at Borussia Dortmund, but his path to the No. 1 spot at goalkeeper continues to be impeded by seasoned veteran Roman Weidenfeller.

The last two days are a reminder of Langerak being at a career crossroads.

November 26, 2014: Arsenal 2-0 Dortmund.

Arsenal centre-forward Yaya Sanogo sneaked in a goal by slipping the ball past Weidenfeller's legs.

Sanogo has only scored once in 219 minutes of combined Premier League/UEFA Champions League play this season and is ungainly in possession.

Yet, he was given an easy out by Weidenfeller.

The long-range curling goal from Arsenal left attacking midfielder Alexis Sanchez was made to look better than it was due to Weidenfeller's shoddy positioning. 

It was an unconvincing game from Weidenfeller, a la Langerak's display, when he started in a 2-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen

Gero Breloer/Associated Press

Nine seconds into the game, Leverkusen right attacking midfielder Karim Bellarabi waltzed into the box and caught Langerak off-guard.

With the last meaningful kick of the game, Leverkusen centre-forward Stefan Kiessling's shot had already bypassed Langerak's attempted save.

Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp should give Weidenfeller the Langerak treatment, who was shafted for his Leverkusen woes.

Yes, Weidenfeller is Dortmund's best performing player, according to Kicker's Bundesliga ratings, but his grading is below seven goalkeepers.

You can talk about Weidenfeller's 12 saves in a 2-1 defeat to Bayern Munich, though, that was a one-off.

GoalkeeperSavesSaves Per GameSaves Per Goal ConcededClub Rank
Loris Karius544.53.9Mainz 05 (9th)
Yann Sommer524.35.8Borussia Monchengladbach (3rd)
Ralf Fahrmann463.82.7Schalke (7th)
Roman Burki463.52.3Freiburg (14th)
Timo Horn443.73.4Koln (11th)
Marwin Hitz393.33.3Augsburg (6th)
Lukas Kruse363.02.0Paderborn (10th)
Jaroslav Drobny353.53.2Hamburger (15th)
Roman Weidenfeller343.12.0Borussia Dortmund (17th)
  • Eight goalkeepers have made more saves this Bundesliga season than Weidenfeller.
  • Weidenfeller's saves per game is standard, but not elite. 
  • His saves per goal conceded needs to be substantially higher if Dortmund want to surge back into the top half of the table. 

Karius (21), Sommer (25), Fahrmann (26), Horn (21), Burki (24), and Hitz (27), all have high upside being under 30 years of age. 

Langerak, 26, has bigger potential being eight years younger than Weidenfeller, 34, so Klopp needs to make a definitive decision.

Sandra Goldschmidt @SanBorussia

Jürgen Klopp and Mitch Langerak after the match yesterday. #BVB http://t.co/MWoONwRiVr

There are parallels with Langerak's situation to former Socceroo Frank Juric, who was on the books of Bayer Leverkusen (1999-2004) when they were contenders, per SBS' The World Game:

I started off the season quite well. Broke in to the team as the No. 1, played a few Champions League games against Olympiacos and Manchester United and a few domestic games but then got injured.

[...]

This is my fourth year. In the last three years we've finished second, fourth and second.

For the club it's a big shock that we are so low down on the table and I don't think they are used to the situation of relegation.

Like Weidenfeller at Dortmund, Hans-Jorg Butt was a mainstay in the Leverkusen starting XI—and Juric knew it. 

"There's no chance of me getting in from the start unless he [Butt] gets hurt, but there's nothing I can do about that," Juric said, per Michael Lynch at The Age. "We get on pretty well together; we go and have a coffee."

Juric was left at the altar.

He never became Leverkusen's undisputed No. 1.

November 27, 2014: Torino 0-0 Club Brugge

Langerak's compatriot, Mathew Ryan, 22, pulled off a Herculean effort amid Brugge's defence giving away against Torino's uptempo attacking.

Torino centre-forward Josef Martinez and central attacking midfielder Omar El Kaddouri dismantled Brugge's seemingly nonexistent back line.

Martinez and El Kaddouri combined for nine shots, seven on target. Neither scored, nor did their Torino teammates, as Ryan accumulated 11 saves and a clean sheet.

Brugge has elevated Ryan's career, who was voted the Belgium Pro League Goalkeeper of the Year.

Borussia Dortmund @BVB

Mitch Langerak - die beste Nummer 2 und das Bayern-Triple #bvbfcb #bvb http://t.co/HBOqyklkD5 http://t.co/3by8iYxqmF

While Ryan has progressed, Langerak has stagnated watching Weidenfeller

At 6'4", 185 pounds, possessing sharp reflexes and with a positive attitude, Langerak has the characteristics to develop into a world-class goalkeeper. 

Mark Bosnich—"the only player he [Sir Alex Ferguson] signed twice at Manchester United," as he described himself to The Sydney Morning Herald's Dominic Bossi—rates Langerak highly.

"It's just a matter of time now before he [Langerak] reaches the very top," Bosnich said, per Dave Lewis at The Australian. "He's really the complete package."

From Langerak's point of view, he has to be realistic and tune out the raise of being a great No. 2 by Dortmund goalkeeping coach Wolfgang de Beer.

"It is not easy to remain so calm and focused for a long time, but whenever he [Langerak] is used he always gives 100 per cent," De Beer said, per SPOX (h/t Ben Somerford at FourFourTwo.com). "For us it is a godsend, both his performances, as well as his character." 

Fact: Langerak has never started five Bundesliga games or more in a season.

If Langerak cannot break into relegation-threatened Dortmund's starting XI soon, he needs to request a loan in the January transfer window.

When not specified, statistics via WhoScored.com 

@allanjianga          

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