Fans of Borussia Dortmund have a lot to be optimistic about this season.

Despite the loss of Mario Gotze to bitter title rivals Bayern Munich, the club got off to a fantastic start to their Bundesliga campaign, thrashing FC Augsburg 4-0 away from home two weeks after beating Pep Guardiola's Munich 4-2 to to lift the 2013 DFL-Supercup.

Jurgen Klopp signed Gabon forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Armenian attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan to boost his attacking line-up, and can now be expected to field a starting lineup that includes Marco Reus, Robert Lewandowski and Aubameyang, with Mkihtaryan and Jakub "Kuba" Blaszczykowski coming off the bench.

It does not take a footballing connoisseur to realise that this is truly a formidable set of players for Klopp to choose from, and Dortmund can be expected to play some breathtaking attacking football this season.

The club should easily be able to challenge Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title, and will fancy itself to progress through the group stages of the Champions League (irrespective of the opposition) and feature in the latter knockout rounds.

For a club that only recently faced the threats of bankruptcy and relegation, the future couldn't look any brighter.

However, the one cause for concern for Die Borussen that looms on the horizon is the uneasy situation surrounding the future of star striker Robert Lewandowski.

The prolific Pole joined Dortmund from Lech Poznan in June 2010 for a fee of €4.5m, and has since gone on to establish himself as one of the top marksmen in Europe, scoring 77 goals in 142 games.

In what was perhaps the greatest performance of his career so far, he scored all four Dortmund goals in the 4-1 against Real Madrid in the first leg of the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League 2012-13.

In February of 2013, Lewandowski confirmed that he would not renew his current contract with the club, leading to intense speculation that he would be offloaded to one of the numerous suitors vying for his services during the current transfer window in order to avoid losing him on a free transfer in 2014.

However, Jurgen Klopp decided against selling the striker to Bayern - the club that Lewandowski has his heart set on joining - this season, possibly with the hope of getting one more season out of him.

Thus, it seems settled that Lewandowski will be available for a free transfer away from Dortmund at the end of the currently on-going Bundesliga campaign.

It is also fair to say with certainty that the most important job for Klopp following his departure will be finding a suitable replacement for the striker.

This article briefly takes a look at five of the most suitable candidates.

5. Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku's position at No. 5 on this list is by no means a reflection of his suitability (or lack thereof) for the striker's role at Borussia Dortmund; he is a fantastic striker with immense physical and technical attributes, and looks like he will become a prolific goalscorer for Chelsea over the next decade, which is exactly the reason he isn't higher in this list.

Lukaku offers Jose Mourinho exactly what the manager seems to want in a striker: strength, pace, a powerful shot, aerial presence and an unmistakeable eye for goal. It seems unlikely that Mourinho would want to part with the 20-year-old Belgian, especially after he has done so well in Chelsea's pre-season preparations this summer. 

However, with Chelsea strongly linked with the likes of wantaway United striker Wayne Rooney and Mourinho's former player Samuel Eto'o, who knows what the future holds for Lukaku? Klopp will probably be watching this story unfold with considerable interest.

4. Leandro Damiao

A dodgy inclusion in this list, especially since there have been no concrete rumours linking the Brazilian striker with a move to Dortmund; however, a look at the playing style of the Brazilian shows that he would be more than an excellent fit for Klopp's counter-attacking style of play. 

Damiao has been touted as one of the best young strikers in the world and is considered to be a certain inclusion (if fit) in Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil squad for the World Cup. Legendary striker Ronaldo described Damiao as "tall, strong, a very good goalscorer, a threat in the air and skilfull with both feet", and these are all attributes that are essential for any striker worthy of playing for Dortmund.

Damiao has long been linked with a move to Europe, with Tottenham strongly credited with an interest in him (before they signed Roberto Soldado, at least!), and Dortmund would do well to consider him when searching for the next Lewandowski.

3. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

Followers of the Bundesliga will undoubtedly be aghast after seeing the Schalke striker on this list; Dortmund and Schalke share a bitter rivalry and contest the most intense derby matches in German football. Therefore, to swap Schalke for Dortmund would earn Huntelaar more than his fair share of enemies, and for us to expect this move to happen would be silly.

However, this writer feels that there are few better goal-scorers in international football than the enormously under-rated Dutch marksman, and his record of 76 goals in 92 league games for Ajax is eerily reminiscent of Pele's record for Brazil (77 in 92). The Hunter - so named for his nearly unmatched ability to find the back of the net - has also scored 80 goals in 119 appearances for Schalke, a commendable achievement.

Huntelaar is a fantastic striker who has been compared to Marco van Basten and Ruud van Nistelrooy for his playing style, and - despite being 30 years old and having recently signed a contract extension at Schalke - would have been a fantastic acquisition for Dortmund in a world bereft of intense club rivalries.

2. Edin Dzeko

The Manchester City striker can count himself slightly unlucky to have been deprived of regular starts at the Etihad since signing from Wolfsburg in January 2011. He was often over-looked for the first team in favour of Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and even Mario Balotelli, for some reason.

However, it is fair to say that of the four strikers, Dzeko was easily the best out-and-out striker, and his goalscoring record at Wolfsburg confirms that.

Despite signing Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic, new City boss Manuel Pellegrini has moved to confirm that Dzeko will be his first-choice striker this season.

However, there is no saying what will happen over the course of the season, and if Dzeko does not get sufficient game time, he could well seek a move away from England. A return to Germany, and this time to Borussia Dortmund, could be the best move for him.

Dzeko is the perfect striker, with a strong "weaker foot", excellent aerial ability and clinical finishing. It isn't too difficult to imagine Dzeko flourishing in a team with the likes of Reus, Aubameyang and Gundogan.

1. Christian Benteke

Christian Benteke is at the top of this list for many reasons. One, he has evolved into a fantastic goalscorer, and it is not for no reason that clubs like Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea were determined to secure the signature of the Belgian striker who was at one point adamant on leaving Aston Villa.

Two, he is currently an Aston Villa player, but the chance to play regular Champions League football could be too much for him to resist if Dortmund were to come knocking on the door. Three: Aston Villa is clearly not going to be the last club Benteke plays for; he will look for a move to a bigger club sometime in the future.

Benteke possesses all the attributes that have endeared Lewandowski to fans of Dortmund; boasting a fierce shot from distance, excellent ability in the penalty area, proven aerial ability and an eye for goal to go with his imposing physicality, he is a thoroughbred goal-scoring machine who has showed time and again that he can rub shoulders with the Premier League's finest.

There are no indications that Benteke will stop scoring goals at the rate he did last season, and there will undoubtedly be many clubs interested in signing the former Genk striker. Borussia Dortmund would offer him the chance to test himself on the biggest stage in international club football, the Champions League. 

Benteke and Borussia Dortmund seem like a match made in heaven.

Of course, there are many superb strikers capable of replacing the Bayern-bound Lewandowski, and it is difficult to pick just five. Some of the strikers you may want to consider are:

Olivier Giroud (after an excellent first season at Arsenal, Giroud will only improve), Nicklas Helenius (a new signing at Villa Park, he does have a decent goalscoring record, and it will be interesting to follow his growth in the Premier League), Nikica Jelavic (an outsider, but worthy of a mention).

If you agree or disagree with the names mentioned, or feel like this list has missed out on some of the most promising strikers in the world, feel free to comment.

 

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Topics:
#Borussia Dortmund
#Football
#Robert Lewandowski
#Romelu Lukaku
#Christian Benteke
#Edin Dzeko