Despite falling short in the Bundesliga title race again in 2019-20, Borussia Dortmund are reinvesting in head coach Lucien Favre‘s vision. The signing of Thomas Meunier could be a vital piece of the puzzle.
For eight seasons in a row, Borussia Dortmund have had to watch on as Bayern Munich have produced one of the most dominant eras in German football history.
While their own respective title tilts have paled in comparison, BVB are still seen as the challengers-in-chief to the record titleholders. The storyline, though, is becoming repetitive, with Dortmund short of the "winning-gene" that gets credited to their Bavarian counterparts.
As they look to break the cycle, one of the greatest challenges facing the Ruhr valley club remains the transitional nature of their squad. Big names come and go when "bigger" clubs come knocking or titles aren't forthcoming, while potential era-defining talents are often sold at a mark up — Jadon Sancho could tick both boxes this summer.
The question of whether Lucien Favre is the man to end a run of eight years without a league title is still being asked. But the club have reaffirmed their faith in the Swiss tactician and, with more fluctuation in personnel expected, reinvestment in his vision has already begun.
Rumors still have Dortmund as favorites to capture the services of Birmingham City's 16-year-old Jude Bellingham. It would be a signing which speaks to the mantra of investing in youth for added value that has made BVB one of Europe‘s most profitable teams.
Pragmatism means progress?
Meanwhile, a deal already done has seen Thomas Meunier complete a free transfer from Paris-Saint Germain. It's a move which underlines the more pragmatic approach the club have taken in the transfer market to build a team capable of winning silverware. This tweak has produced the signings of Mats Hummels, Emre Can and Axel Witsel in recent seasons.
It's no longer just about finding uncut gems, but signing finished products with title-winning pedigree, who can buy into the BVB style of play, as they look to add the trimmings to a side that unquestionably has the potential to be crowned Bundesliga champions. Meunier appears to fit the bill.
"Thomas Meunier is a player who has demonstrated his quality at the highest level in the Champions League and in the national team over a long period of time," sporting director Michael Zorc, who extended his contract this week, said. "He'll really benefit us with his experience."
Band of Belgians
The 28-year-old right-back, who once came close to giving up on a football career when he was released by Standard Liege at the age of 15, collected three winner's medals in four seasons with PSG in Ligue 1 and has his sights set on more silverware.
"Borussia Dortmund play exactly the football that I want to play: exciting, authentic and natural," said the 40-time Belgian international. "I'm ambitious and, like with Brugge and Paris, I want to win titles with Dortmund."
Given Favre's penchant for speaking French and BVB's Belgian connection with Witsel and Thorgan Hazard, everything is set up for a seamless transition for the player who came close to joining Bayern in the winter transfer window.
Achraf Hakimi has defined Dortmund's right-wing back role, but his performances have been so good that the club don't hold much hope of retaining his services beyond the two-year loan deal with Real Madrid that expires this summer. Inter are said to be closing in on a deal for the marauding Moroccan.
Meunier has big shoes to fill and while an attacking mindset and a greater sense of defensive stability are tangible assets for Favre, the intangible experience of knowing what it takes to win titles could be of greatest value to the man being charged with delivering a league title for Dortmund.