Lucien Favre has been appointed as Borussia Dortmund's new coach and he needs to hit the ground running if he is to return the club to winning ways. Here, DW outlines his three most pressing concerns.
“Signing Lucien Favre as coach is an important part of our sporting new beginning,” said Borussia Dortmund’s sporting director, Michael Zorc, following the announcement of Lucien Favre on Tuesday. The 60-year old signed a two-year contract and there is a growing sense that the club have finally got their man. It's the former Nice coach's highest profile appointment to date and Favre has plenty to do if he is to return the club to its former glory. Here, we've outlined the three most pressing concerns waiting in his in-tray.
Signing a goalscorer
The loss of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang midway through last season was offset thanks to the deadline day arrival of Michy Batshuayi from Chelsea. The Belgian's seven goals in 10 Bundesliga appearances, before an ankle injury curtailed his season, provided a short-term striking solution which helped to drag Borussia Dortmund to a top-four finish.
Favre's first job is to find a long-term replacement for Aubameyang, a finished article immediately capable of challenging for Torschützenkönig — top goalscorer — next season. Batshuayi would be the ideal fit. He has proven Bundesliga experience, is a firm fan favorite, and, at just 24, could provide goals for years to come. The Belgian would be open to a permanent move, given his status as a back-up option at Chelsea, but could command an eye-watering fee. Should Batshuayi prove unaffordable, Favre will need a plan B.
Rumors of a proposed bid to bring Mario Balotelli to Signal Iduna Park will have some fans concerned. The Italian is regarded as a disruptive figure whose controversial nature undermines an undeniable talent. Balotelli has thrived under Favre at Nice, however, scoring 33 goals in 51 league games, and appears to have matured during his time in France. If Favre is convinced of the Italian's temperament, a move to Dortmund could be on the cards. It would be eventful, to say the least.
Clearing out the deadwood
The arrival of Augsburg goalkeeper Marwin Hitz was confirmed long before Favre was unveiled as coach, but the fact that the club were so quick to secure a new number one spoke volumes about their faith in Roman Bürki. Bürki endured a poor season and should be considered, at best, second-choice option against his Swiss compatriot Hitz. Dortmund need to be just as proactive in other areas of the squad.
Captain Marcel Schmelzer's best days are long behind him and, with the 18-year old Dan-Axel Zagadou still raw, a high grade replacement at left-back must be brought in. Jonas Hector would offer the perfect blend of defensive solidity and attacking prowess, while the Cologne captain would also add leadership and international experience to a squad lacking big characters. That said, he's just renewed his contract at Cologne.
Sebastian Rode's time at the club should also be consigned to the past as soon as possible. The former Frankfurt and Bayern midfielder spent most of his second season with the club injured after his €12m move. His decision to inform the press that the squad expected Peter Stöger to leave, without the club having made any official announcement at the time, was ill-advised and few Dortmund fans would lose sleep should the 27-year old depart.
A new central-defender to partner Sokratis, as well as a creative central midfielder to partner Julian Weigl will also be high on the shopping list. The likes of Andre Schürrle, Mario Götze and Nuri Sahin are not at the levels they once were.
Instilling a clear tactical approach
Borussia Dortmund have lacked tactical cohesion for too long. Peter Bosz's side of the early 2017-18 season were capable of playing fast attacking football but it came at the expense of defensive solidity. The famous 4-4 draw against Schalke was a case in point. Dortmund dominated the first half, blowing their local rivals away with sumptuous football. The moment Schalke struck back, however, heads went down and chaos ensued.
Peter Stöger went too far in the opposite direction. The defense was shored-up but the team lacked a plan going forward. Dortmund lost or drew 10 out of Bundesliga 18 matches during the Austrian's spell in charge and can consider themselves lucky that Champions League football was secured at all.
Favre needs to find the right balance between defense and attack. His Nice side finished eighth in Ligue 1 last season, scoring only one more league goal than they conceded. This will have to be improved upon in Dortmund, with Champions League football a minimum requirement alongside an open, expansive style of play.