A Fantasy XI of Players Linked with Borussia Dortmund in the Past 12 Months

Lars Pollmann@@LarsPollmannFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2016

A Fantasy XI of Players Linked with Borussia Dortmund in the Past 12 Months

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    Boris Streubel/Getty Images

    Borussia Dortmund are widely regarded as a selling club—especially by the international media.

    That doesn't mean, however, they're not linked with countless players over the course of a year. 

    We've looked through all the rumours over the last year and put together a fantasy XI of players Dortmund were reportedly interested in.

    Like the actual Black and Yellows have done many times this season, this team will play in a 4-3-3 formation.

    Wherever we had to decide between players linked with Dortmund, we went with the rumour that came from the most credible source—even though that isn't always saying much.

Goalkeeper: Ron-Robert Zieler

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    RONNY HARTMANN/Getty Images

    It wasn't surprising to see a number of goalkeepers linked with Dortmund in the spring of 2015. Once Jurgen Klopp started to rotate his two 'keepers, Roman Weidenfeller and Mitchell Langerak, one could feel a change coming—and it did, with Roman Burki coming in from SC Freiburg.

    German tabloid Bild linked Hannover 96's Ron-Robert Zieler with BVB in May, claiming the 26-year-old could leave the club for as little as €3 million in case of relegation.

    The 96ers managed to stay up, and the perpetually underrated Zieler wound up clearly outplaying Burki in the first half of the season, making Opta's team of the Hinrunde and setting a season record with 10 saves in the match against Bayern Munich in December, per WhoScored.com.

Right-Back: Thomas Meunier

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    Before Thomas Tuchel moved centre-back Matthias Ginter to right-back early in the season, the Black and Yellows were deemed a little light at that position. With Erik Durm playing more on the left side of defence in the 2014/15 season, Lukasz Piszczek was the only available right-back in the squad for a time.

    The 30-year-old's physical decline in the last few years led Bild to link then-23-year-old Club Brugge defender Thomas Meunier with Dortmund in March. 

    The towering right-back has five caps for Belgium to his name and has been tipped with a move away from his homeland for a while now, such as by B/R's Laura Greene.

Centre-Back: Aleksandar Dragovic

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    A year ago, Mats Hummels caused quite a stir with comments that could be interpreted as preparation to leave Dortmund, telling German magazine Kicker he was unsure about his future at the club.

    Austrian centre-half Aleksandar Dragovic has been linked with Dortmund for years, with Thorsten Schabelon of local paper WAZ reporting an interest in the defender as early as October 2012.

    In January of 2015, two months before Hummels' comments, the Black and Yellows "earmarked a potential replacement in Dynamo Kiev's Aleksandar Dragovic," per the Daily Mail's Simon Jones.

Centre-Back: Havard Nordtveit

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    Rumours about defenders joining Dortmund have largely died down in the last few months, as the club have a surplus at the position that could lead to the departure of Neven Subotic in the transfer window.

    One recent rumour has linked Borussia Monchengladbach defensive all-rounder Havard Nordtveit with the club. Sven Tollner, a reporter for German TV station Sky Sport News, tweeted that the Black and Yellows are in pole position to sign the Norway international in the summer. The 25-year-old will be out of contract then and would sign on a free transfer.

    While he's not a natural centre-back, he would provide cover at the position.

Left-Back: Baba Rahman

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    Before he became the latest name on the list of talented players to flop at Chelsea—at least by early indications—Ghanaian left-back Baba Rahman was heavily linked with a move to Dortmund.

    Bild reported Dortmund's interest in the then-FC Augsburg man in January last year, while Kicker made that link in May.

    The Black and Yellows did invest in a new left-back but made a much more modest signing than Baba, who cost Jose Mourinho €20 million, per Transfermarkt, with Park Joo-ho joining from Mainz 05.

    Thanks to Marcel Schmelzer's strong season so far, few Dortmund supporters will be sad their club missed out on Baba.

Defensive Midfielder: Johannes Geis

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    PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty Images

    Linking Johannes Geis with Dortmund was a popular—and logical—thing to do in the spring of 2015. The Germany under-21 international played under Tuchel at Mainz, Dortmund were looking to replace Sebastian Kehl, who'd hang up his boots at the end of the season, and Ilkay Gundogan, who was almost certain to leave the club in the summer.

    Jurgen Koers of local paper Ruhr Nachrichten, generally regarded as the most trustworthy source when it comes to Black and Yellows transfer news, reported in May that a deal could go down quickly.

    That never happened, of course. Geis wound up going to Schalke, BVB's local rivals. Dortmund opted to sign Julian Weigl instead, and the 20-year-old is arguably a much better fit for Tuchel's style than the Schalke man. 

    Still, it will be interesting to compare the two in the years to come.

Central Midfielder: Roberto Soriano

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    Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

    In a more recent rumour, Liguria Oggi reported in late December that Dortmund are interested in German-born Sampdoria man Roberto Soriano. According to that report, Soriano is available for €15 million through a release clause.

    A dynamic box-to-box midfielder, Soriano projects as a potential replacement for Gundogan should the Germany international decide to leave the club.

    Scouts in Attendance, meanwhile, tweeted that Dortmund watched Soriano in the Derby della Lanterna against Genoa earlier in January, and they will have been impressed with Samp's captain, who scored two goals in his side's 3-2 win.

Central Midfielder: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

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    Perhaps the craziest rumour we're referencing on this list. Christian Falk of German sport tabloid Sport Bild claimed in May that Dortmund and Bayern were engaged in talks about a swap deal that would've sent talented Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and cash to the Black and Yellows in exchange for Gundogan.

    Unsurprisingly, such a deal never materialised, and Hojbjerg ended up on loan at Schalke. As B/R's Clark Whitney explained, however, his loan spell with the Royal Blues has been an utter disappointment so far.

    Still, the versatile midfielder is a massive talent who just needs the right opportunity to blossom, and that could well have happened under Tuchel had he joined BVB.

Right Winger: Andriy Yarmolenko

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    Late in the summer transfer window of 2015, reports emerged linking Dortmund with Dynamo Kiev attacker Andriy Yarmolenko. Bild claimed Dortmund offered €12 million for the Ukraine international.

    Speaking to Tribuna (h/t Transfermarkt), football agent Konstantin Nesterenko revealed there had been two bids from the Black and Yellows but that the deal fell through. 

    B/R's Stefan Bienkowski called Yarmolenko the player Dortmund would regret not signing shortly after the window closed, and considering the much cheaper alternative to the Ukrainian, Adnan Januzaj, lasted a meagre four months at Dortmund, he might well have a point.

Left Winger: Andrija Zivkovic

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    Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

    When Dortmund sold Jonas Hofmann to Monchengladbach in the January transfer window, we called Andrija Zivkovic a possible replacement. A few days later, Bild's Moritz Leihkamm claimed the Serbian's arrival was imminent.

    Sky Sport News' Stephan Schauble (h/t Stephan Buczko of ESPN FC), however, reported Zivkovic won't join Dortmund this January, while Futbolgrad.com's Manuel Veth wrote that "Serbian sources suggest that Zivkovic has signed a pre-contract with Borussia Dortmund for the summer."

    With the Serbian winger out of contract in the summer and FK Partizan in financial trouble, a transfer in this window still seems possible.

    At any rate, the skilful winger would be a very good fit for Dortmund's style of football.

Striker: Obbi Oulare

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    The Black and Yellows have been linked with a number of centre-forwards in the last 12 months—the craziest of all came in November, when Steve Morgan of the Daily Star suggested the club were interested in Leicester City sensation Jamie Vardy.

    Considering the sensational form Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang showed in 2015, however, it always made more sense to see Dortmund linked with young strikers to back up the Gabonese. One such rumour was about then-19-year-old Obbi Oulare of Club Brugge.

    Bild reported in June a deal was close, but the 6'5" forward joined Watford instead.

    With Oulare having just debuted for the Hornets in the FA Cup win over Newcastle United in January and his coach, Quique Sanchez Flores, saying, per Adam Newson of the Watford Observer, the club "need to teach him everything," one would be forgiven for thinking the German Black and Yellows dodged a bullet on that one.

    Lars Pollmann is a featured columnist writing on Borussia Dortmund. He also writes for Yellowwallpod.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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