Borussia Dortmund fell just short in this season’s Champions League final to Bayern Munich, something they’ve heard all too much in the recent months.
But the pain of the loss may be felt the most knowing that the chance to hoist that trophy may not come again for a long time.
The rigor of a lengthy Champions League run can take its toll on a squad, even into the following season. Klopp admitted following the defeat that the squad was visibly drained by the 75th minute of the classic at Wembley
More daunting, however, is the prospect that next season will see Dortmund’s bitter Bavarian rivals get even stronger…at their own massive expense.
Bayern have already triggered Mario Gotze’s €36.8 million ($47.6 million) activation clause, and now outgoing manager Jupp Heynckes strongly hinted that Robert Lewandowski will follow in Gotze’s footsteps.
Dortmund’s two most dynamic players will be leaving Westfalenstadion with the intent of of creating a dynasty at the club they failed to upstage at any point this season.
It’s been a pretty rapid climb for manager Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund since arriving five years ago. He inherited a team that finished 13th of 18 in the Bundesliga, and has since brought them two Bundesliga championships and this season’s blistering run through the Champions League.
Klopp has vowed to return to the finals of the Champions League, saying, “We will come back, maybe not to Wembley but we will try to come back to another final.”
But that feat is one of the most difficult to promise – even “The Special One” Jose Mourinho, armed with this year’s Champions League top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo couldn’t get past the semifinals in each of the last three years.
Unfortunately for Dortmund fans, Klopp has pretty much capitulated to the notion that he will have a lot to replace next season, but at least he’s confident. “I have much work to build a new team. I think we’ll get a pretty decent team together, I wouldn’t worry about that.”
He will certainly have a lot of resources to work with, given the massive haul he’s already been guaranteed for Gotze, plus the equally large sum he will most likely get in return for Lewandowski. But if you injected the boss with truth serum, it’s a guarantee he would tell you he’d rather have the players than the money.
Can Klopp replace Lewandowski, who the enigmatic German boss bought in 2010 for a measly €4.5 million ($5.6 million)? Can he replace the 20-year-old Gotze, who cost the club literally nothing having come through their youth system?
It’s a massive task ahead of him, but he’s shown this season he’s at least up to the challenge. Any challenge.