Borussia Dortmund didn't have the most positive start to this summer’s transfer window – losing star striker Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich for nothing, who also happen to be one of their rivals.
So, from the very beginning, Jürgen Klopp has had his work cut out to replace someone who has scored 74 goals in 131 appearances for the club, and finished as their top goalscorer with 20 Bundesliga goals last season.
For that reason, we look at how Klopp has tried to fill the void created by the 26-year-old’s departure, and whether these changes have made Dortmund stronger or weaker than last season.
Add more firepower
Firstly, and most importantly, Jürgen Klopp has brought in three new strikers in order to add both quality and depth to the goalscoring department. The new additions here are: Ciro Immobile, Adrián Ramos and Ji Dong-Won – with the latter arriving for free, whilst Ramos and Ji Dong-Won signed for an undisclosed fee.
Adrián Ramos looks to be a good signing, judging from his good form for Hertha Berlin last campaign, where he scored 16 goals in 34 goals. As someone who offers both power and pace, as well as adept finishing, the 6ft ½ Colombian international will suit Dortmund’s style of play as he can run behind defences and hold the ball up when required.
Whereas fellow recruit, Ciro Immobile, will be the biggest gamble that Klopp has made this summer in terms of his price and unproven quality as beforehand, he never played for a top club like Dortmund. Signed for a fee of 23 million Euros, the former Torino man represents a big risk for Klopp, especially since many critics have claimed that the Italy international would not suit Klopp’s style of play. However, if he is a success, then Dortmund may have a prolific striker within their ranks.
Ji Dong-Won is Klopp’s final striking addition. Prior to this, the 23-year-old endured a miserable stint in the Premier League with Sunderland - scoring a measly two goals in 24 games. Then last season, the tall striker went out on loan to FC Augsburg. After scoring 5 goals for the Bundesliga outfit during the first half of the season, they announced that they agreed a permanent deal for the South Korean… until the end of the season, when he would then sign for Dortmund. Scoring one solitary goal for FC Augsburg since that deal, Dong-Won did little to showcase his worth. Therefore, it remains clear that Klopp signed him merely to act as cover.
A happy return
Jürgen Klopp also signed two midfielders - Nuri Şahin and Shinji Kagawa – who had previously played at the Westfalenstadion, for a combined fee of around £11 million. This is good business by the club as they previously sold the talented pair for nearly £25 million. Now, they both come back as more experienced and refined midfielders.
Kagawa is known as a fast playmaking midfielder with excellent feet, passing and a keen eye for goal, so the Japanese idol will be an especially useful signing for Klopp, as this is a player who suits the quick, dynamic football Klopp has instilled.
Aged 25 like Kagawa, the 5ft 11 player still possesses the ability to open up defences and dictate the tempo, just as he did with Dortmund before, when he notched six goals and eight assists. If both Kagawa and Şahin can be close to as influential as before, then they could play a key part in Dortmund’s domestic and European campaigns.
Young home-grown talent
Only 20 years of age, Matthias Ginter agreed a 5-year-deal with the Bundesliga runners-up, moving from SC Freiburg for a reported fee of £8 million. Having recently risen to prominence on both the domestic and international stages, Jürgen Klopp beat the likes of Arsenal to the talented German’s signature.
Dominant in the air, and blessed with maturity beyond his years, the 6ft 2 centre back has the ability to force his way into Dortmund’s starting line-up in the near future. He also has the potential to be one of Germany’s main defenders for years to come.
So… are they stronger or weaker?
In conclusion, Klopp’s summer transfer activity has given Dortmund a good chance of replacing the goals and world-class quality of Robert Lewandowski. In Ramos and Immobile, they have two quality strikers who are capable of scoring plenty of goals for their club.
Also, the return of Kagawa and Şahin should mean that whoever plays up front, they will have even more chances handed to them by their creative midfielders.
Consequently, it looks like Klopp’s men are set to be a stronger, more competitive outfit than last season due to the increase of quality in depth, and the signings of two potentially prolific strikers who are capable of replacing Lewandowski’s goals between them.