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The shrewd business of Borussia Dortmund, a welcome reprieve to transfer market procrastination

Jul 7, 2013, 1:50 PM EDT

FBL-FRA-LCUP-SAINT-ETIENNE-RENNES Getty Images

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.

  1. thememyselfandiguy - Jul 7, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    this article is a joke, right?
    dortmund overpaid for all 3 players. champions league final? they can be lucky to reach the next champions league. they didnt made the homework on goetze and lewandowski and know they are paying for it.

  2. lfcrising - Jul 7, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    Need to work on your research re Mkhitaryan. Not so much of BVB striking quietly and/or quickly. BVB was always our main competition for the player and in it. Reports suggested that Mkhitaryan’s ownership is all kinds of screwy, including how much Shakhar actually own. Maybe BVB figured it out before LFC did, maybe LFC dawdled, maybe lots of things. Ultimately, it seems BVB is gonna get him (though still repots of LFC in it, but faint and I’m not sure what to believe). Either way, totally wrong on BVB’s interest and how much they were in it.

    Also overpaid for the striker. Don’t think he’s worth it.

    • Mike Prindiville - Jul 7, 2013 at 7:19 PM

      Thanks for the feedback. I’ve kept a pretty close eye on the Mkhitaryan situation from start to finish and did not see any reputable sources linking Dortmund to the player. Any mentions I did see were scarce, from non-reputable sources and did not date back to more than a few weeks ago. That’s why I wrote “Dortmund struck quietly and quickly,” which seems like a pretty reasonable classification, no?

      Even assuming he was on the Dortmund’s radar, most sources indicated that Barca, Spurs, Chelsea and City were the competition. None of those clubs, however, could appropriately be considered Liverpool’s “main competition” because the Reds were the only club who were widely reported to have Mkhitaryan pegged as their marquee summer signing.

      Nevertheless, I’m interested in reading your source(s) so reply with link(s) if you can. Thanks.

      • lfcrising - Jul 8, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        First read reports of BVB’s interest about two weeks ago. With some digging, I found reports that go way back (late 2012). I suppose the question is the reputability of those way back reports but reflects general interest. First article was from Bild, and link below. The way back reports come from transfermarkt.de/ (which, overall, rumors tend to be pretty good).

        http://www.bild.de/sport/fussball/henrikh-mkhitaryan/dortmund-jagt-donezk-star-30990682.bild.html (Requires translation if you don’t read German)

        This whole transfer saga has stunk with rumors, conjecture, and speculation from what now appear to be disreputable Eastern European journalists. I’m still bitter (though clearly, I’m too close to it). Either way, like I said, not sure where the Reds went wrong, but they clearly screwed it up.

  3. martin492013 - Jul 7, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    BVB will do well again in the Champions League, previous comment made surely by another EPL know it all. Aubameyang fits well into the Dortmund mold, fast, play maker that can score. There mid-field is still loaded with talent, Sahin will be in Dortmund shape this year and will play a much bigger role, Gundogan is a soon to be known house hold name. Reus and Kuba will be tearing down the flanks, with big Lew in the middle to create problems for everyone.

  4. thememyselfandiguy - Jul 8, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    @martin492013,
    what does “well again” mean, semi-final????
    when they get a lucky draw the can reach the quarterfinal, but that’s it. the cant play the underdog card vs the big guys anymore. as Bayern figured them out, the other big european clubs will do the same.

    • martin492013 - Jul 8, 2013 at 1:05 PM

      Bayern figured them out for a 2-1 victory? It was a great final that either team could have won, did you even watch the game?

      • nussdorferac - Jul 8, 2013 at 1:51 PM

        It doesn’t appear the commenter has followed much of anything in the Bundesliga or the rest of Europe.

  5. gojonesgo - Jul 8, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    Mkhitaryan may very well be going to BVB; it may even be a done deal – the likes of the Guardian and the Liverpool Echo (along with every fly-by-night football blog on the internets) seem to be treating it as such. I find it interesting though that Skysports, the one media outlet that consistently deals in fact instead of conjecture, has thus far remained strangely silent on the subject. I wouldn’t count Liverpool out just yet…

  6. gojonesgo - Jul 8, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Okay, now I do.

  7. jessedinner - Jul 8, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    It is interesting how much BVB his spending but then again they have been banking in on selling so many players so it is time for them to take some chances. I still don’t understand why they don’t just sell Lewandoski already. It would be annoying to sell him to Bayern Munich but is also strange that he will go to no other clubs. In the end if he wants to go to Bayern then sell him there bc it is obvious that Klopp is great at buying and making superstars.

    @thememyselfandiguy BVB came out of a group with Man City, Real Madrid and Ajax and then took down Real Madrid again. Also, it is strange how you are questioning Klopps purchases when his track record is impeccable.

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