The first half of the Bundesliga season couldn’t end soon enough for Jürgen Klopp and Borussia Dortmund. Although the final whistle against Hertha Berlin brought Dortmund their third home defeat in a row, it must have also brought joy to the clubs management, as it represented the start of the winter break and an opportunity to nurse some of their injured players back to full health.
A lot has been written about Dortmund’s lengthy injury list, which includes their entire first choice back four of Łukasz Piszczek, Nevan Subotić, Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer, along with influential midfielder Ilkay Gündoğan. There is no doubt in my mind that had these players been fit for the entire duration of the first half of the season, Dortmund would be higher than fourth in the table and a lot closer to leaders Bayern Munich.
Jürgen Klopp did add depth to his squad in the summer with the acquisitions of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but failed to sign a striker to share the work load with star striker Robert Lewandowski.
It could be argued that Dortmund already has a second striker in Julian Schieber. There is also the argument that in Marvin Ducksch, Dortmund has a young striker with a lot of potential. I also know from watching Dortmund that in Marco Reus and Aubameyang, they have two players that could fill in for Lewandowski should he be injured or suspended. However, it still astounds me that Borussia Dortmund haven’t yet signed a striker to offer some genuine competition for Lewandowski and ultimately replace him when he leaves Signal Iduna Park in the summer, a decision I feel has already come back to haunt Klopp and his team.
Dortmund are notorious for their wastefulness in front of goal and very rarely replace Lewandowski during games, either due to their over reliance on him, or their lack of faith in Schieber, who only ever seems to come on to the pitch in acts of desperation. It needn’t be like this though, had Klopp and Hans-Joachim Watzke signed an out and out striker in the summer.
However, all is not lost. By the time you read this the European winter transfer window will be open and it is my opinion that Klopp and Watzke have to use this window to bring in the man to replace Robert Lewandowski.
Now I know that German clubs don’t generally use the winter transfer window as it generates the impression that the club got their business wrong in the summer. This is an idea that I personally agree with to an extent, but I believe that this is a special circumstance, especially when you consider that Lewandowski is free to speak to any club from January 2nd.
This raises a couple of questions, a couple of very important questions: Who is the right man to replace Robert Lewandowski, and more importantly, Robert Lewandowski’s goals? Is it wiser to pick a player with a proven record in the Bundesliga, opt for a big name, or, like in Lewandowski’s case when he first moved to the Westfalenstadion, a player from another league that not many people have heard of?
I personally believe that Lewandowski’s replacement must have a proven record in the Bundesliga and three players stand out for me.
The first player that immediately springs to mind is that of Manchester City striker Edin Džeko, who scored 66 goals during his time in Germany with VfL Wolfsburg. Džeko is of a similar mould to Lewandowski and to many he would be the ideal replacement. Džeko is strong, can hold up the ball, is good in the air and knows where the goal is. To me this transfer makes sense to both parties. Džeko is arguably City’s fourth choice striker behind Álvaro Negredo, Sergio Agüero and Stevan Jovetić, and with 2014 being a World Cup year, the Bosnia and Herzegovina international is surely going to want to be playing regularly. If Džeko was to move to Borussia Dortmund he would certainly get more playing time then he does currently at the Etihad.
The second player that springs to mind is Hannover 96’s Senegalese striker Mame Biram Diouf, who has scored a very respectable 23 goals in 49 games during his two years in Germany. Diouf is another strong striker who is equally as comfortable providing goals as he scoring them. Diouf also has decent pace which would be a great asset to Dortmund’s quick break counter attacking style, and is very agile and technically gifted. Although Diouf is a regular for Hannover, playing with the likes of Reus, Mkhitaryan and co. would undoubtedly improve his game. One reason that this transfer makes sense is the fact that Diouf is out of contract in the summer so Dortmund could potentially acquire his services for a very reasonable price, providing Hannover are willing to do business.
The third player that I believe would be a great replacement for Lewandowski is TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s Germany under 21 international Kevin Volland. Though the least experienced of the three players I have mentioned, Volland has the most potential and highest re-sale value should the move work out. The downside to this is that he would also be the most expensive of the three to sign. Volland is another player who is strong, pacey, and has good technical ability. Volland has a reasonable scoring record of 13 goals in 49 games, having been used mainly as a winger or support striker this season. The player would arguably have a better scoring record had he been used as Hoffenheim’s main striker, and would be another player who would benefit greatly from Borussia Dortmund’s style of play.
If any of these three players were to move to Dortmund during the winter transfer window they would also have the benefit of learning Jürgen Klopp’s philosophy during the second half of the season whilst not having the sole responsibility of being the clubs main striker. This time would also give Džeko, Diouf or Volland the opportunity to get to know their new team mates, both on an off the pitch, which would hold them in very good stead come the start of next season.