A few weeks back, the future looked rather bleak for Borussia Dortmund, but they seem to have experienced a reversal in fortunes recently and are looking like a side capable of mounting a serious challenge both on the domestic, as well as the European front next season.
The loss of Ilkay Gundogan, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and former captain Mats Hummels were seen as major setbacks for Dortmund, but just like they had done in the past few years, the former Bundesliga champions have found a way to reignite a sense of optimism within the club.
Manchester City were quick to snap up Dortmund's midfield enforcer Gundogan for £21 million, which, considering the riches of the buying club, seems to be quite a bargain.
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The German midfielder has been instrumental for Dortmund over the past five seasons, leading them to two Bundesliga title wins, as well as a Champions League final appearance in 2013 against rivals Bayern Munich, a game in which the 25-year-old even manged to score despite losing to the Bavarians.
Mkhitaryan, who was brought to replace the departing Mario Gotze in 2013, was outstanding for the Westfalenstadion outfit last season.
Registering 23 goals and 32 assists during the campaign, the Armenian international played a massive role in the club's attacking play.
His absence is sure to be felt by the team, as well as the fans, with the playmaker having moved to Manchester United earlier this summer.
The greatest loss for the side, however, will be the formidable and influential presence of Hummels, who is set to form an envious pairing with German teammate Jerome Boateng in central defence for Bayern Munich.
The 27-year-old, who wore the captain's armband for the club last season, is a regular in the German national team and was crucial in their 2014 World Cup win in Brazil.
Having served seven years at the club, the highly-rated centre-back finally succumbed to the lure of his former club, following in the footsteps of Gotze and Robert Lewandowski.
Despite the loss of the aforementioned players, Dortmund still boast a strong contingency of world-class talent, new captain Marco Reus being the most notable one.
The 27-year-old has been unlucky on the international stage, having missed Germany's last two major competitions due to injury.
Reus is considered one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe and has repeatedly deflected the urge to join a bigger club.
Dortmund's formidable defense consisting of Lukasz Piszczek, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Neven Subotic, and Marcel Schmelzer still provide an intimidating prospect for opposition attackers, with veteran keeper Roman Weidenfeller in between the posts.
The likes of Sven Bender, Shinji Kagawa, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are some of the other key players at the club, who have come to form the spine of the team in recent years, serving as crucial components of the club's attacking play along with the ever present Reus.
In addition to the experience provided by the above players, promising young talents such as Matthias Ginter and Julian Weigl broke into the team last season and will be expected to grace the club for years to come.
The club are by no means crippled due to the departure of Gundogan, Hummels, and Mkhitaryan, and their exit has paved the way for an influx of talent from across the continent, which might just have made the team even stronger than last season.
In an already busy transfer window for Thomas Tuchel's team, they have signed an impressive eight players, several of them being eye-catching purchases.
Leading the pack is former Dortmund player Mario Gotze, who has made a dramatic return to his childhood club having endured a frustrating three seasons at Bayern due to injuries and lack of opportunities in the first team.
The German playmaker will be looking forward to reigniting his partnership with former teammate and close friend Reus.
Another notable signing has been the capture of former Chelsea star Andre Schurrle from Wolfsburg. The 25-year-old is fast approaching the prime of his career and brings a host of attacking ability to the side.
Ousmane Dembele and Emre Mor are touted as two of the brightest prospects in Europe, and the former has already shown his prowess after scoring a scintillating solo goal in the recent friendly against Manchester United.
Former Barcelona player Marc Bartra will add to the defensive strength of the club, and is the ideal replacement for the departed Hummels, whereas Sebastian Rode's addition from Bayer Leverkusen will bring much needed stability in midfield following the sale of Gundogan.
Other young recruits such as Raphael Gurreiro and Mikel Merino could add depth to the squad, as Tuchel's men bid to topple Bayern from the summit of the German league in the upcoming season.
The team are already off to a great pre-season, having won four out of their five warm-up games so far, including the 4-1 hammering of Jose Mourinho's United team.
Fans will be eagerly waiting to see the likes of Schurrle, Reus, Gotze, Kagawa, and Aubameyang in action at the same time, a mouth-watering prospect for even neutral spectators.
With the new group of players, in addition to the experience and quality provided by the existing players, Borussia Dortmund should be considered serious contenders to win the Bundesliga as well as the Champions League next season.
Bayern can certainly expect a closer race for the title next season, having cruised past the rest of the pack in recent years, Dortmund being the last club to better the Bavarians in the competition.
Are Borussia Dortmund a stronger or weaker team following the transfer activity so far? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!
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