There are three things in life that are certain. Death, Taxes, and Borussia Dortmund snapping up the very best of Europe's youngsters with minimal fuss before selling them for an exorbitant sum of money.
Whether it be to Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Barcelona or a million other sides, the German side have perfected the art of buying young players for cheap and selling them big. And by big, it’s big with them earning £222.8 million from the sales of just three players and it’s partly why Manchester City’s Ferran Soriano is so angry. Because add Jadon Sancho to that list and that figure jumps up by almost a £100 million although this time Dortmund pulled a rabbit out of the hat.
They managed to keep ol Sancho at the club despite, what looked like, persistent interest from Manchester United. Now whether that was down more to incompetence from Manchester United’s standpoint or more just Dortmund being bull-headed and taking a stance over the fee, we may never know. But either way, somehow the Bundesliga giants managed to keep their best asset and now have a chance at doing something but what?
They’re natural challengers for the Champions League places and offer a chance to said budding youngsters to play regularly in club football’s biggest cup competition. There is also that title challenge but there’s a Bayern Munich that stand in their way. Even in their worst year, the Bavarians eventually pushed on and did what they have always, in recent years and in the history of the German top tier, won the title. Last season, they had possibly the worst six months in recent history with RB Leipzig dominating the league by December.
But by August, thanks to a certain nameless thing, the Bavarians lifted their first treble since 2013. It’s truly majestic watching Bayern and their group of impressive footballers do what they’re paid to do so very efficiently but it doesn’t make for a good read, especially for Dortmund. Because for all their youth mongering, BVB have managed just the one trophy since 2012. That is since that equally brilliant two peat that Jurgen Klopp managed which is what helped many fall in love with the German side.
Yet while many have tried, they’ve all failed and done it in great style. Thomas Tuchel, the heir apparent to Klopp, finished ten points off Bayern in his first season before finishing eighteen behind in his second season. The latter also came with a third place finish and a falling out with former head scout Sven Mislintat and Hans-Joachim Watzke. Tuchel was replaced by Peter Bosz although he was sacked by December after a twelve game winless run and replaced by Peter Stoger.
See the trend? Both Tuchel and Bosz walked in as bright young managerial things, who had played bright young and modern football with an emphasis on attacking, high-energy pressing game. Yet with Dortmund forever selling and buying, selling and buying, selling and buying, it didn’t allow the teams to settle down, find a rhythm and then thrive. Some say it’s why the Yellow Wall hasn’t tasted success in well over eight years but they’ve come pretty damn close under Lucien Favre.
Both his seasons with the club have finished trophyless and that just looks like it might continue this season no matter how shaky-ish Bayern look. It’s a dull, boring and sad story but ask anyone watching Dortmund this season and they’ll tell you the exact opposite. You, see with another sensational crop of youngsters at his beck and call, Favre has managed to etch out a niche although it’s still growing and finding their feet. He has simply set them loose on Germany and they’re incredibly fun to watch.
Eight goals in four games, three wins sandwiching a loss and even then, the hope is still there. Why? Because of that sensational crop of youngsters and they look truly majestic as they walk into a Revierderby with thirteen goals and assists between themselves. We’ve already seen what Jadon Sancho can do, we’ve already seen what Erling Haaland can do but you add Jude Bellingham and Giovani Reyna to that group, it’s just divine nonchalance.
They exude it and this is part of what makes Dortmund so brilliant. Four of Europe’s most exciting and sparkling youngsters and they form a key part of Favre’s quartet. Not to mention, very soon the quartet should become a quintet once Youssoufa Moukoko turns 16 and even at 15, the hype around him is real. He has netted an outrageous 134 goals in 86 youth games alongside setting a Bundesliga U-19 record and many expect that to translate to first team footy.
But that’s not all because to add to a quintet of youngsters you’ve got Marco Reus, who’s now, a wily veteran and still just as good as he once was although this time, he’s the captain. Julian Brandt, another brilliant piece of business from the Bundesliga giants and at 25 million, he’s proving to be a bargain. Loan signing Reinier must be wishing he signed for them permanently and then there’s the rest. The older and more stately men in the form of Emre Can, Axel Witsel, Thomas Delaney, Mats Hummels and co.
It’s a combination that is perfect on paper but football, as we know it, isn’t played on paper especially when it comes to German football. That is exactly why this Dortmund team needed to forget about titles, trophies and all that shim sham and forget about chasing Bayern. Instead, set the kids free and let them tear teams apart if and when needed because this here is a rare chance that few clubs get. Sure, Dortmund have had their talented kids in the past but rarely have they had a group of four, potentially five, players this good.
They’re not rumoured to be that good or could be that good, they’ve been that good for nigh on two years now and it’s a tangible feeling. It wafts in the air above the Westfalenstadion and once the Yellow Wall is back, they’ll be signing tales of the greatest quartet to ever dance the grounds in Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia. It won’t last long, however, before a new golden generation walk the same halls, wear the same numbers and excite people the same way.
Goodnight, BVB family! 💛 pic.twitter.com/oZ37G0DiYM— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) October 3, 2020
Because this team will not last long. Jadon Sancho is probably gone next summer. Erling Haaland a year or two after him with Giovani Reyna and Jude Bellingham following their teammates once they’re out of their teens. But even then, while you can’t help but romanticize them rejecting the European gods of the game, that is the one thing that won’t happen. Why? Partly the COVID-19 pandemic that has wrecked Dortmund’s finances and partly because this is the Borussia way.
It’s their mission. Buy the best youngsters with the hook that they’ll get to play regular, competitive first team football in a top five league for a title challenger alongside European football. It’s a wonderful and vicious cycle and one that many are trying to replicate but like most cycles it's hard to break. So for now, Dortmund’s only goal should, and has to be, giving their fans the greatest time of their lives.
Cause as well all know, cycles end and this one’s end is right around the setting sun which is why the fans need something to help them forget that it will happen one day. To help them forget that a day is nearing when they walk into the Westfalenstadion and someone else will be wearing the number seven, someone else is leading the line and their world is no longer the same. It is only then that the memories of the sheer fun they had watching this team play will be some form of catharsis and in the end, that's what football does.