After steadily improving in the last few seasons, Borussia Dortmund and its fans are desperate to make the next step. But the club will have to sell before it can buy any more new players.
BVB fans hope Dortmund's cash woes won't deflate the team
Fans of Borussia Dortmund are hoping that last season's fifth place finish and qualification for the Europa League means that BVB, one of the Bundesliga's sleeping giants, is finally waking up and has taken a significant step forward in its long and ponderous route back into the big time. They'll also be hoping for more signs of progress during this coming campaign.
After one of its best seasons in years, Dortmund now faces a new challenge: To build on last season, improve the squad and satisfy the growing expectations of one of Germany's largest and most passionate fan bases. It will be no easy task for coach Juergen Klopp and his management backers.
Klopp arrived in Dortmund in 2008 amid mutterings of discontent from the BVB faithful. Klopp's foppish style and flamboyantly verbose manner didn't seem to fit with the working-class earthiness associated with the club. It seemed an ill-conceived marriage; club and coach as different as chalk and cheese, an odd couple doomed to failure.
Yet Klopp quickly won over much of the Dortmund faithful with his animated commitment and media-savvy charisma, but mainly by giving them what they have been missing for almost a decade: a club that appears ready to challenge again after slipping down the league table since they last won the title in 2002.
However, by hinting that he could be the man to return the club to its former glory, Klopp has made a rod for his own back. Dortmund fans may like what they have seen so far but they will want bigger and better things from their coach and team this season. Promises shown in the best performances by a Dortmund team in years last season are not broken lightly in the Ruhrgebiet (the Ruhr Area where Dortmund is based). You make good on them or you run for the hills.
Team improvement at the mercy of substantial wage bill
With such demands and expectations on his shoulders, many would expect Klopp to push on and fine tune a team which produced some of the more attractive attacking soccer in the Bundesliga last season. But in such financially fraught times, finding the money to bring in the players needed to make a good team into a great team is an almost insurmountable task.
Klopp faces improving BVB with one hand tied behind his back
The Dortmund hierarchy have made it clear this season that BVB will have to sell before it can buy and that reducing the wage bill is not just a priority for the financial department but the club as a whole.
The first salary to be cut from the wage bill could be that of striker Nelson Valdez who is reportedly the target of a 3 million euro ($3.9m) bid from ambitious, newly promoted La Liga side Hercules. Valdez has slipped out of favor, but after impressing at the World Cup, Dortmund have slapped a 5 million euro price tag on the Paraguayan. However, the striker is settled in the area and has vowed to stay and fight for a place.
Strikers in demand; replacements already in place
The main reason Valdez is up for sale is the arrival of Polish international striker Robert Lewandowski. The 21-year old, who has scored an impressive 38 goals for Lech Poznan over the last two seasons and was the Polish league's top scorer last season, signed for the club in June in a 4.5 million euro deal. He joins a growing Polish contingent at Borussia, with Jakub Blaszczykowski already there and right-back Lukasz Pisczek having recently joined from Hertha Berlin.
Lewandowski joins BVB with a prolific scoring reputation
Dortmund should be looking to recruit as much fire power as possible if the rumours surrounding leading scorer Lucas Barrios come true. Last season’s top scorer would command a fee of around 10 million euros if sold and is reportedly being hunted by AC Milan, Fiorentina, Manchester City and Napoli. The Argentinean-born forward was one of the main reasons for their charge up the table but the club could be tempted to sell if the price is right.
The same could be said for another of BVB's coveted strikers, Egyptian forward Mohamed Zidan who is allegedly interesting big names such as Manchester United, Arsenal and Barcelona.
Financial juggling part of defensive strengthening
As well as potentially replacing a trio of departing front men, Klopp may have to find a new centre-back before the season starts if Serbian defender Nevan Subotic moves on.
Any cash from Subotic's fee would be spread thinly around
The 21-year-old is reportedly a target for Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in the Premiership. If he does leave, at least Klopp will take solace in the fact that he will have around 29 million euros to play with from Subotic's transfer fee.
A chunk of those millions, however, may go on serving repayments elsewhere before what's left is spent on Subotic's replacement. How much BVB has left to buy a new centre-back depends on whether they also need to buy a new left-back as cover for the injured Dede and his back-up Marcel Schmelzer. BVB have somewhat of a left-sided crisis developing ahead of the new campaign as both first-choice Dede and Schmelzer have recently been crocked in pre-season training.
Japanese playmaker adds attacking spice
Dortmund has never found a true replacement for Tomas Rosicky in the playmaker role
The offensive line-up has been bolstered by Japan international playmaker Shinji Kagawa. The 21-year-old signed from J-League club Cerezo Osaka, and is being touted as the new Tomas Rosicky.
Kagawa scored 55 goals in 125 games for Osaka. The difference in quality in the leagues may mean he has a tougher time in Germany but the agile and versatile Kagawa will certainly inject a bit more youthful promise and creativity to the midfield.
The Dortmund fans will be hoping that all the wheeling and dealing necessary this summer to keep their club operating on a financial even keel will also allow the team keep afloat in the choppy waters of a hoped-for title challenge.
Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Rob Turner