Waldemar Anton (l.) and Nico Schlotterbeck (r.) could be the future of Borussia Dortmund and Germany for many years to come. - © IMAGO/Markus Ulmer
Waldemar Anton (l.) and Nico Schlotterbeck (r.) could be the future of Borussia Dortmund and Germany for many years to come. - © IMAGO/Markus Ulmer

Nico Schlotterbeck and Waldemar Anton - a dream defensive duo in the making?


When Mats Hummels announced his Borussia Dortmund departure on June 14, fans in black and yellow were forgiven for having concerns but, less than a month later, club executives came through in spectacular fashion with the signing of Waldemar Anton who looks a ready-made partner for fellow Germany international Nico Schlotterbeck.

During a combined 13-years at the Signal Iduna Park, Hummels established himself as one of the finest centre-backs on the planet. And in his final season at the club, Hummels showed he was far from done at the top with back-to-back Man of the Match performances in the Champions League semi-finals against Paris Saint-Germain.

Such a career renaissance made replacing the five-time Bundesliga winner near-impossible, but instead BVB nailed down one of the few men to challenge his status as Germany’s best defender in 2023/24, Waldemar Anton.

Anton arrives from VfB Stuttgart on a four-year deal, having captained them to a runners-up Bundesliga finish, their best since lifting the Meisterschale in 2007. Such a campaign saw him called up to the German national team ahead of Euro 2024, where he featured twice in the knockout stages.

Watch: Borussia Dortmund unveil Waldemar Anton

The 27-year-old even got a taste of playing alongside the man who will soon become his key partner in football; fellow BVB centre-back Nico Schlotterbeck, with the pair operating together for the first time in a 32 minute period of the quarter-final defeat to Spain.

Things didn’t go to plan, with Mikel Merino securing a 2-1 victory in extra-time against the hosts, but for Dortmund fans it suggested at the beginning of a new era.

Like Hummels, head coach Edin Terzić left the team shortly after losing to Real Madrid in the Champions League final and his replacement, former assistant and club legend Nuri Şahin, is already hard at work rebuilding the team - starting from the back.

Last season in Europe Schlotterbeck and Hummels combined for perfection with the elder statesman able to track the game’s best strikers with his one-on-one skills, while Schlotterbeck was able to make up for his partner’s advancing years and declining pace by sweeping up behind him.

Watch: The best of Waldemar Anton

There’s reason to think that things could be about to get even better, though, with Anton able to mirror Schlotterbeck’s talents, and complement him elsewhere.

Only Bayer Leverkusen metronome Granit Xhaka managed more touches than Schlotterbeck and Anton last season, while the pair ranked first and second for progressive carrying distance - how far they’d taken the ball up the pitch.

It gets better, too. While Schlotterbeck ranked in the league’s top three for tackles won (50), his new partner tidies up in other ways, with him sitting seventh on clearances with 150.

Watch: The best of Nico Schlotterbeck

There are also the leadership qualities lost from Hummels that former VfB captain Anton will certainly make up for. "Waldemar is everything you want from a captain: tireless, disciplined, always trains at 100 percent,” said Stuttgart head coach Sebastian Hoeneß. “He's consistent, is a real stabilising factor in the defence and makes very few mistakes. He's every coach's dream because he's an absolute team player."

Well all the signs are that he will be Schlotterbeck’s dream too, and with a backline now set for years to come, Şahin and BVB have the foundations to go even further than their near misses of the past two seasons.