During this age of rampant speculation and loafing among clubs looking to sign players in the transfer market, one has to admire the way Borussia Dortmund shrewdly goes about the business of replenishing its ranks.
Stripped of star midfielder Mario Gotze by Bayern Munich and losing defender Felipe Santana to Schalke (in a bid for more playing time), Dortmund entered the summer like most clubs, looking to rebuild.
Santana, who failed to lock down a center-back spot over Mats Hummels and Nevan Subotic, was replaced by Werder Bremen stud Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The Greek international, known as ‘Sokratis’ or ‘Papa’, had been expected to join Bayer Leverkusen but snubbed the North Rhine club because of his desire to work under BVB manager, Jurgen Klopp.
“I absolutely wanted to join Klopp,” Sokratis told German newspaper, Bild.
Dortmund and Bremen agreed to a £8.4 million ($12.5m) for the hulking center-back, good value for a young player (24 years old) who many consider to be one of the up-and-coming stars at his position. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Sokratis acquisition is that Dortmund took care of it quietly and three days before they sold Santana to Schalke.
No rumors. No prolonged negotiations. Just pure execution.
The same no-nonsense approach to business took place this past week when Dortmund signed St-Etienne striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (pictured) for a fee of £11.4 million ($17m). The Gabon international, who scored 19 goals and notched 9 assists in Ligue 1 this past season, was a coup that no one saw coming.
Aubameyang had been strongly linked to a move to Newcastle. The Magpies made the 24 year old their top attacking prospect of the summer and looked prepared to shell out £15 million ($22.4m) for his services. When asked about a transfer to Tyne-side, Aubameyang seemed up for it, claiming that he saw Newcastle as “a good club” with a “monumental stadium.”
But, like most clubs, Newcastle delayed, and delayed and delayed. In fact, it was not weeks or months that they had been monitoring Aubameyang, but the entire past year. And while Mike Ashley & Co. knew that Anzhi Makhachkala, Paris St-Germain, Atlético Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur were all keeping tabs on the striker, no one had a clue about Dortmund.
Until they swooped in and not only got the deal done in a matter of hours but did so at a savings of £3.6 million. That’s great business.
Like Sokratis, Aubameyang is an anticipatory purchase, one that lessens the sting when Robert Lewandowski inevitably moves to Bayern Munich at the end of next season.
The same situation played itself out last week when BVB and Shakhtar Donetsk agreed on a £21.5million ($32m) fee for midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Up until that point, Liverpool had been rumored for weeks to be contemplating a bid for the goal-scoring midfielder.
But while the Reds dawdled around, Dortmund struck quietly and quickly. Once again, it was over before it began.
So will these moves be enough to propel Dortmund back to the Champions League finals?
Only time will tell.
But the muted, exepeditious business practices of Dortmund are a welcome reprieve to the speculation and procrastination that so often plague transfers in world football.