Borussia Dortmund did not make any signings in the January transfer window, instead letting go of three players in Jonas Hofmann, Adnan Januzaj and Pascal Stenzel.
While none of the three played a big role in Dortmund's impressive season so far, supporters of the club surely expected the Black and Yellows to replace wingers Hofmann and Januzaj with a quality signing.
That didn't happen and BVB will have to manoeuvre through a possibly treacherous path to glory—meaning silverware—hoping regular starters Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will stay healthy and keep their form going for months despite a hectic schedule.
As we mentioned in our look at Dortmund's lack of transfer activity, the positive effect of their unwillingness or inability to add a winger to their squad is that an immense talent such as 17-year-old United States international Christian Pulisic will get quality playing time.
However exciting that is, though, it's also a dangerous proposition. One that Dortmund looked to avoid, seeing as they agreed a fee for FSV Mainz star man Yunus Malli, per the 05ers official webslte.
While not a classic winger per se, Malli would've been a welcome addition as a rotational asset and a replacement in the event of injury to either Reus or Mkhitaryan. Dortmund's full-backs provide width anyway, not the wide midfielders.
As tactics blogger Constantin Eckner pointed out for YellowWallPod.com, the Turkey international's "ability to sneak behind opposing back lines could be the perfect complement to the skill sets of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan."
With Dortmund having agreed a fee for the transfer, it's hard to blame them for its failure to materialise. And seeing as the 23-year-old has now publicly confirmed he has a release clause for the summer, per tabloid Bild (link in German), this deal could well be deferred, not cancelled.
Another transfer that didn't happen could come to hurt Dortmund much more.
Both sporting director Michael Zorc and chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke confirmed at the weekend to German broadcaster Sky that the club were very interested in signing 21-year-old midfielder Oliver Torres from Atletico Madrid.
Zorc confirmed that Dortmund tried to sign the 2012 UEFA European Under-19 Championship winner on loan with an option to buy in the summer, but Atletico weren't ready to let him go. However, Torres has a buyout option.
It would've cost the Black and Yellows €24 million to sign Atletico's No. 10 on a permanent basis in the winter, per Matthias Dersch of local paper Ruhr Nachrichten (link in German).
It's therefore understandable that they didn't pull the trigger, as Zorc said the club weren't going to make unreasonable deals, per Thomas Hennecke of sport magazine Kicker.
Signing a relatively unproven talent for the third-highest fee in club history, per Transfermarkt.de, probably constitutes unreasonableness (links in German).
If Torres develops into the kind of player he can become, however, many Black and Yellows fans could end up asking what might have been.
The 21-year-old is regarded as one of the most talented players in a country full of footballers with otherworldly potential.
Eckner described his playing style:
His strength lies in his desire to overwhelm the opposing defence by consistently penetrating open spaces without getting caught due to his remarkable elusiveness. Particularly, Oliver’s positional awareness, as he frequently looks over his shoulders to scan the field, gives him the edge over opponents.
He has a feeling for the spaciousness of a football pitch, which widens his passing and moving options. Oliver often reconsiders the obvious short-range passing option, which, in his eyes, does not help to continue a play effectively, before releasing the ball. His wide-range balls have a decisive influence on the design of his team’s attacking plays.
Obviously he needs some fine-tuning and lacks experience, but Torres would've made for a strong in-house candidate to replace Ilkay Gundogan somewhere down the road.
With the Germany international out of contract in 2017, Atletico's jewel could have played a big part in Dortmund's contingency plans.
Of course, the Black and Yellows could try again in the summer, but the chances are that Torres will have no shortage of suitors, while it's also far from certain that he'll entertain the idea of leaving Madrid: What if Diego Simeone, whose system he doesn't fit perfectly, succumbs to the siren calls from the Premier League, for example?
No, it certainly feels like Dortmund dallied away their best opportunity to get Torres.