Friday, August 12, 2022

Have Borussia Dortmund Replaced The Mkhitaryan-Shaped-Hole In Their Squad?

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Anas Molla
An ageing teenager who apparently still likes Twenty One Pilots and HIMYM. Also fascinated by Greek and Egyptian mythology and history. Still waiting for my man Milos Raonic to win a Grand Slam.

Borussia Dortmund experienced a squad overhaul this summer with five players leaving the squad whilst they have signed eight new faces. The departures of key players such as Mats Hummels, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan particularly have left a hole in Thomas Tuchel’s lineup.

And with six match days already gone, The 4th Official will peek into Borussia Dortmund’s performance and see as if the Black and Yellows were able to replace their departures or not. The first name on our series was Ilkay Gundogan.

After covering Ilkay Gundogan’s departure from the Signal Iduna Park, we now move ahead to Henrikh Mkhitaryan and see how well did Dortmund manage to replace him so far this season.

Since arriving at Dortmund, in 2013 for a club record fee, Mkhitaryan always struggled to cope with the pressure left by the fans, and the high expectations from the club. Resultantly, the Armenian playmaker suffered two horrible seasons under Jürgen Klopp, especially the 2014/15 season, where he was a symbol of almost anything that gone wrong with the BVB.

However, the change of managers turned on the fortunes of Mkhitaryan as Thomas Tuchel’s possession play mostly evolved around the playmaker. Subsequently, Mkhitaryan was like a hot tube last season, scoring 23 goals and providing no less than 32 assists all competitions, which eventually earned him a 42 million move to Manchester United this summer.

STUTTGART, GERMANY - APRIL 23: Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Borussia Dortmund of Borussia Dortmund controls the ball during the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund at Mercedes-Benz Arena on April 23, 2016 in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The departure of Mkhitaryan along with Gundogan left a huge hole in the Dortmund midfield. However, Die Schwarzgelben did manage to sign a host of attacking talents in the transfer window with the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Emre Mor along with some proven first team quality like Andre Schurrle and Mario Gotze.

From the ones on the roster, Mario Götze and Ousmane Dembele was particularly chosen as the desired replacements for the departing Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Mario Götze – A name which shatters hate among some Dortmund fans while it also manages to spur a form of love amongst the others. Götze’s move from Dortmund to FC Bayern in 2013 is still one of the hot topics for any regular football follower up until now.

However, the move didn’t pan out well for Götze, or at least not in the way that he would have wanted to as he failed to make himself a regular feature with the Bayern first team due to unfortunate injuries and a series of bad performances. And at the end, Götze decided to pull out a leap of faith as he chose to end his stint with FC Bayern and embarked on the eventual paths of Nuri Sahin and Shinji Kagawa by crawling back to the Westfalenstadion.

The move might seem like a fairy tale, but it isn’t going too well for Götze so far as his lack of form continues even at Dortmund. In his three appearances in the Bundesliga so far, the world champion created only five chances, also having only one shot at goal. The 24-year-old has mainly played down the attacking midfield position in Tuchel’s slightly changed formation compared to last season. Although, the German International did manage to score his first goal after coming back to the club, in a Champions League encounter against Polish outfit Legia Warszawa.

Even though, Mario Götze came nowhere close to replacing the boots of his actual replacement (in 2013) Henrikh Mkhitaryan but considering the talent he possesses, some constant first team appearances and a little time might just do a world of good and who knows, he might come back to his former self once again!

The signing of Ousmane Dembele even with the interest of other big clubs, including rivals FC Bayern flared a signal of intent from the Dortmund board. Dembele was signed from French club Stade Rennais for a lowly fee of just 15 million euros, (which in part, thanks to the sponsorship tie-ups between the two clubs). Beforehand, Dembele was regarded as one of Europe’s top 10 teenage footballers by Daily Mail.

Dortmund's French midfielder Ousmane Dembele (C) celebrates during the German first division Bundesliga football match of Borussia Dortmund vs SV Darmstadt 98 in Dortmund, western Germany, on September 17, 2016. / AFP / PATRIK STOLLARZ / RESTRICTIONS: DURING MATCH TIME: DFL RULES TO LIMIT THE ONLINE USAGE TO 15 PICTURES PER MATCH AND FORBID IMAGE SEQUENCES TO SIMULATE VIDEO. == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE == FOR FURTHER QUERIES PLEASE CONTACT DFL DIRECTLY AT + 49 69 650050 (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Mainly a right winger by trade, Ousmane has featured as more of a left winger under his new coach Thomas Tuchel so far. And the 19-year old needed to time to settle in at the Signal Iduna Park. A great individual with seamless control on the ball, marked with some quick drop of the shoulders and dribbling players at devastating pace. The French International is no doubt a specimen of Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

But not really, though,

Whilst Henrikh Mkhitaryan used to roam in a free-flowing formation in the ARM trio last season, Dembele has been more dubbed as a proper wingman. The French International doesn’t have a role of dropping in behind to help his team in the build-up, while Miki always tends to drop in around the middle to link up with the fullbacks. And then, the temper, while we can argue that both the players have some temper problems but Mkhitaryan’s performance off the ball last season was far more matured than Ousmane Dembele, who seems to get frustrated when not on the ball.

But of course, considering the tender age of just 19, it’s all understandable that Dembele wants to show his fans of what he can offer to the team and a little more development would surely make Dembele the real deal for Dortmund offence.

In general, Borussia Dortmund have done really to pick out the best players in order to replace their departing Henrikh Mkhitaryan and in time, they will easily get over the Armenian International, who himself is having a tough time at Manchester United.

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