Borussia Dortmund may be preparing for a German Cup final against Bayern Munich, a final they could very well win based on the last meeting between the two and the Bavarians’ form. But the onus at the club has very much been on preparing for next season.
The impending loss of prolific scorer Robert Lewandowski to Bayern has required immediate action, not only to repair broken morale, but also to reshape the squad ahead of next season.
The club, known for scouring the far reaches of Europe for talent, picked up youngster Milos Jojic from Partizan Belgrade in January and began integrating him into the team. Another part of Dortmund’s transfer business has been to look within German football and at the smaller clubs, either in the top tier or second tier, for talent. Most notable has been the recent inclusion of 21-year-old Erik Durm at left-back amid the team’s current injury crisis, picked up from Mainz in 2012.
But the focus is very much on attack and replacing the production of Lewandowski. Dortmund have already signed, to little surprise, Adrian Ramos from Hertha Berlin, as well as Sunderland’s Ji Dong-Won, currently on loan at Augsburg. The team’s central figure, though, may already be in house.
Marco Reus is currently on a sensational run of form. On the weekend, he assisted one and scored the other in Dortmund’s 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen. In 28 Bundesliga games this season for Jurgen Klopp’s side, Reus has played a part in 28 goals, either scoring or assisting. He’s also contributed to seven Champions League goals in nine appearances.
But despite Reus’ climb to prominence as a left-sided attacker, he’s equally capable of playing through the middle. If Dortmund opt to go this way – and the inclination is that they may very well do as their first-choice – they’ll lose the powerful presence of Lewandowski, but will retain the speed of their attack and a forward capable of firing them to future success.
It’s why, despite the initial fears surrounding his future, Dortmund are sleeping a little easier of late. Reus, as well as one or two others, is setting an example for other players in the team. Not only can some of Dortmund’s top stars look at the failed move of Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid and to past golden boy Mario Goetze currently in and out of Bayern’s starting XI, they’ve got a leader in Reus who’s playing like his future lies at Signal Iduna Park, like a bright, immediate future is still on the cards for this team. This isn’t a team who about to be dismantled just yet.
Dortmund had a fantastic week at the start of April, beating both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, scoring five in total and keeping a clean sheet. Those wins were achieved without half the team’s regular starters, while Reus scored three and assisted one over both games.
Manchester United, preparing for a busy summer, are understandably interested in the German international, with potential manager Louis van Gaal sounding out Reus as one of his targets. Reus is everything United need as a wide forward, able to score, create and provide pace to a department that has been lacking a superstar name since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo (Juan Mata may have a history of playing wide on the left, but he’s a better No.10 for this United team than a winger).
But while Ilkay Gundogan’s future up until recently was a little hazy, Dortmund are protected this summer from a sale of Reus, with the reported €35 million release clause only coming into effect in 2015. Reus won’t be drawn into a discussion of a new contract, which Dortmund will want to tie up and remove any clauses favouring outside parties, but he did move to state his happiness at the club.
Having come through the club’s academy, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Reus is thinking of the upside to leading the next chapter of Jurgen Klopp’s tenure at Dortmund.