If history - and the departures of Robert Lewandowski (l.) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (l.) - are anything to go by, Erling Haaland will not be the last great No.9 to don the famous shirt for Borussia Dortmund. - © Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images
If history - and the departures of Robert Lewandowski (l.) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (l.) - are anything to go by, Erling Haaland will not be the last great No.9 to don the famous shirt for Borussia Dortmund. - © Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images

From Lewandowski to Haaland and beyond: how Borussia Dortmund have always replaced the "irreplaceable"


Erling Haaland may be leaving the Signal Iduna Park behind but, whether it was Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Michy Batshuayi or Paco Alcacer, Borussia Dortmund have always found a way to replace seemingly "irreplaceable" No.9s - and Haaland will be no different.

bundesliga.com explores how Dortmund fans should not fear the departure of Haaland, but instead look forward to the next world-class player that will pull on the famous yellow and black No.9 shirt.

Robert Lewandowski
Games: 187, Goals: 103
Honours: 2010/11, 2011/12 Bundesliga; 2011/12 DFB Cup; 2013 DFL Supercup; 2014 Torjägerkanone (20 goals)

The likes of Frank Mill, Stephane Chapuisat, and Jan Koller had all made the Dortmund No.9 famous prior to Lewandowski's arrival in the German top flight, but the Pole has gone on to take the position - and the shirt - into another stratosphere.

It was Lucas Barrios who led the line when the volcanic ash clouds over Iceland diverted Lewandowski from Blackburn Rovers to Dortmund in 2010, and the Paraguay striker returned double that of Lewandowski - 16 goals to nine - in their first season together before first injury, and then form, saw Barrios moved aside.

Since moving to Germany, Robert Lewandowski (l.) has established himself as one of the greatest No.9s in history. - Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images

Lewandowski’s 30 goals in all competitions were central to the double of Bundesliga and DFB Cup won under Jürgen Klopp in 2012, a campaign that saw him first take the No.9 shirt and in which he set a new club record by scoring in 12 consecutive league games, surpassing Toni Konietzka's record which had stood for 47 years.

Lewandowski became the first player in history to score four goals in a UEFA Champions League semi-final the following April: a 4-1 victory over Real Madrid which ultimately paved the way for the all-German final between Dortmund and Bayern Munich, which Lewy’s future employers won 2-1. Only Cristiano Ronaldo outscored the Pole on the continent that season; and the following year he was bound for Bavaria.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Games: 213, Goals: 141
Honours: 2013, 2014 DFL Supercup; 2016/17 DFB Cup; 2017 Torjägerkanone (31 goals)

Having contented himself with a place on the wing in the lone full season he played alongside Lewandowski, Aubameyang rebranded himself as a goalscorer supreme - ahead of Ciro Immobile no less - once his friend and future Torjägerkanone rival was gone, adding a killer instinct to his already blistering pace.

Watch: All of Aubameyang's final season goals at Dortmund

Whether or not Auba is faster than Usain Bolt remains up for debate – the player himself maintains that he was clocked covering 30 metres in 3.7 seconds whilst in the AC Milan youth set-up – but he raced to 100 goals in all competitions by December 2016. He finished the 2016/17 Bundesliga campaign with 31 goals - at the time, the best German top-flight haul since Dieter Müller’s tally of 34 for Cologne in 1977 and the most by a non-German.

Unlike Lewandowski, a league title may have eluded Aubameyang, but with an African Player of the Year gong, a pair of DFL Supercups in 2013 and ’14 as well as the DFB Cup in 2017, his mantlepiece was a glistening one nonetheless during his stay in Dortmund.

Paco Alcacer
Games: 47, Goals: 26
Honours: -

When Aubameyang departed the club in January 2018, the Gabon international had already scored 21 times in just 22 appearances in all competitions across half of the 2017/18 campaign, meaning there was a big hole to fill in front of goal.

Watch: Alcacer's perfect start to life in the Bundesliga

Initially, it was Michy Batshuayi who plugged that gap during a highly productive loan spell that saw the Belgian bag nine goals in 14 games as well as gaining almost immediate cult status for his iconic Batman and Robin celebration with Marco Reus.

Injury ultimately ended Batshuayi's stint in front of the Yellow Wall early and it was Spaniard Alcacer that was recruited to lead the line the following season. Alcacer raced out the traps in Dortmund, collecting seven goals in his first four outings - only one of which, a 45-minute appearance against VfB Stuttgart, saw him named in the starting line-up.

By Matchday 16, Alcacer had set a new record for the most goals as a substitute in any one Bundesliga campaign, claiming a total of 12 from the bench. His 18 league strikes were only improved upon by Lewandowski that year as the Spaniard closed out the campaign by setting a new Bundesliga best for the greatest single-season goals-per-minute ratio in history.

Erling Haaland
Games: 88, Goals: 85
Honours: 2020/21 DFB Cup

Everything about Alcacer's spell was whirlwind but nothing could prepare him, or Dortmund's opponents, for the tornado that was to come when Haaland touched down in Germany. Alcacer had started the season well, finding the back of the net in all four of Lucien Favre's side's first four league games, but the Norwegian's arrival changed everything.

Watch: Haaland's incredible hat-trick on his Bundesliga debut

Having penned a four-and-a-half-year deal at the club in December, Haaland seemed to be in even more of a hurry than Alcacer - scoring a hat-trick in his first Bundesliga appearance, and with all three goals coming in the space of just 20 minutes for the 56th-minute sub.

Twelve days later, Alcacer's bags were packed for his homeland and neither Haaland nor the club turned back, with the then 19-year-old chalking up seven goals in his first three Bundesliga games and ending his first six months in Germany with 16 goals in 18 appearances.

Despite playing just 15 league matches, only five players scored more than Haaland in 2019/20 and Lewandowski (87) is the sole man that has bettered the Norwegian's (56) Bundesliga output in front of goal during Haaland's Dortmund stay.

It will take some doing for BVB's next No.9 to replicate Haaland's remarkable prowess in front of goal but, considering the club's previous in this department, there should be little to worry about and yet more exciting times ahead at the Signal Iduna Park. The arrival of Germany international striker Karim Adeyemi and the signing of a Sebastien Haller at the peak of his powers shows the club are already well placed to move forward.