Mats Hummels, Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt and Nico Schulz have all arrived at Borussia Dortmund to join Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho & Co. in trying to push Bayern Munich even harder in the 2019/20 Bundesliga title race.
bundesliga.com looks at what the Bundesliga runners-up's trio of new signings will bring to Lucien Favre's side.
Story so far: Bayern to Dortmund, Dortmund to Bayern and now back to Dortmund once again: few people know the road between the Allianz Arena and Signal Iduna Park better than Hummels. The defender has played 300 Bundesliga games for two of the league’s biggest clubs, lifting the Meisterschale six times (four with Bayern, two with Dortmund) and also two DFB Cups. One of the best ball-playing centre-backs in football, Hummels’ successful career hasn’t just been confined to the domestic game. He may have come up short with BVB in the 2013 UEFA Champions League final against his future/former club (keep up!) but he was already a European U21 champion with Germany and would go on to win the greatest honour of all in 2014 with the FIFA World Cup. He played in all but one of the seven matches in Brazil and also scored the only goal of the game in the quarter-final against France.
Watch: Mats Hummels' Bundesliga mixtape
Role next season: There may only be five players currently at the club who played alongside Hummels in 2016, but it could well be like the last three years never happened. He is expected to fit straight back into the heart of the Dortmund defence, and despite no longer wearing the captain’s armband he will be a leader at the back. Hummels’ role will be to add needed experience to a young defence, guiding and nurturing the still relatively raw talent of fellow centre-backs Manuel Akanji, Abdou Diallo, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Leonardo Balerdi. The addition of Hummels is designed to sure up a defence that, while solid, did crumble on rare occasions last season.
Story so far: Tagged immediately and perhaps inevitably as 'Eden's little brother', Hazard followed his illustrious sibling to Chelsea in 2012 after emerging at Lens, the northern French rivals to Lille where Eden had made his name. Unlike his elder brother, Hazard did not establish himself with the English Premier League side and instead performed impressively on a two-season loan in his homeland with Zulte Waregem, winning Belgium's Player of the Year award in 2013/14. His loan switch to Gladbach was made permanent after the 2014/15 campaign, and his subsequent four fruitful years at Borussia Park - culminating in him reaching double figures for goals and assists last season for the first time in his career - proved the five-time Bundesliga champions right.
Watch: Hazard under the tactical microscope
Role next season: It's a big summer for the Hazard family. Eden is fulfilling a long-held wish to join Real Madrid while Thorgan - the second of a quartet of gifted siblings - is continuing his own upward trajectory. "It's a big club, a great stage in my career. I thought it was time to take another step up," he said after completing the move. Many of his 10 goals and 10 assists for Gladbach came from wide of a front three last term, and he can expect to occupy a similar position in Favre’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. Sancho and Reus are assured of two of the three places behind the lone forward, but with Christian Pulisic, Raphael Guerreiro and Jacob Bruun Larsen having shared the other spot between them, Dortmund have been crying out for a full-time occupant of the role for some time. Hazard should be just the ticket.
Story so far: Bremen-born, the blond-haired prodigy's talents were quickly spotted by Wolfsburg, who drafted him into their youth academy in 2011. Impressive performances, including orchestrating the U19 side's national title win in the 2012/13 campaign, convinced Leverkusen to offer him a five-and-a-half-year contract in January 2014 - a month on and their faith in him was translated into a Bundesliga debut against Schalke and, just three days later, his first UEFA Champions League game. Over 200 competitive first-team matches - and 42 goals and a half-century of assists - later, Brandt, who is still only 23, is bringing considerable experience as well as talent to Dortmund's table.
Watch: How Brandt's game evolved alongside Kai Havertz last season
Role next season: Coaches love options, so Favre must be drooling at the prospect of having Brandt in his squad. Pigeon-holed as a bright attacking midfielder for most of his career, Brandt can certainly do more than an effective job there, and could perhaps even reprise the 'false nine' role Mario Götze has been used in. But where Brandt may be most effective is in the deeper role Peter Bosz eased him into at the BayArena during the second half of last season. One goal and three assists as a winger in the Hinrunde transformed into six goals and eight assists in the Rückrunde for Die Werkself following Brandt's positional shift. He could play anywhere in the final third, but his evolution means that even defensive shields Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney could be afforded a rest against opposition BVB should feel confident of overrunning. Brandt the No.8 was a sight to behold from the turn of the year.
Story so far: Schulz's talents may only have recently come to the average fan's attention following his Germany debut early last season, but UEFA Champions League winners Liverpool were reportedly interested in signing him shortly after he joined hometown club Hertha Berlin as a youth early in the millennium. A first-team debut came at 17, but what should have been the opening chapter to a fairy-tale was followed by a nightmarish two-year stint at Gladbach that was ruined by a serious knee injury. The silver lining of his struggle with the Foals was the summer 2017 switch to Sinsheim that set him en route to the national team and now Dortmund. Hugely impressive on the left side of Julian Nagelsmann's 3-4-3, Schulz caught the eye, notably of national team boss Joachim Löw.
Role next season: Top quality left-backs are as rare as a footballer without tattoos these days, so Dortmund's successful luring of Schulz to the Signal Iduna Park is a major coup to give the club stability and thoroughbred quality in a position that has been problematic since Marcel Schmelzer's pomp back in the Jürgen Klopp era. Now justifiably billed as Germany's premier exponent of the position, Schulz will bring his "outstanding athletic qualities and incredible speed” - as his former boss Nagelsmann put it - to a Dortmund side that has lacked a bespoke left-back in recent seasons. One defensive signing is arguably three in Schulz’s case, with his presence allowing Abou Diallo to resume his promising central-defensive partnership with Manuel Akanji next term and Achraf Hakimi to operate on his favoured right side. Diallo and Hakimi were two of five players tried at left-back last season, and Schulz is the perfect antidote to such a selection headache.
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