bundesliga

Remembering Michy Batshuayi's goal-filled spell at Borussia Dortmund

When Borussia Dortmund line up against Besiktas in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday there will be a familiar face on the opposite side of the pitch: Michy Batshuayi, who had a brief but goal-filled loan spell at BVB in 2017/18.

It is the perfect occasion, then, to look back with fondness at one of the league's quirkiest - and deadliest - finishers. So how did the move happen and why was it so short-lived?

Well, that season was a difficult one for the Black-and-Yellows, with Peter Bosz dismissed as head coach in December 2017 and replaced by Peter Stöger, who himself had been let go by bottom club Cologne just the previous week.

Just over a month later, star forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined Arsenal on deadline day after four and half years at the Signal Iduna Park, leaving just Alexander Isak, who was only 18 at the time, as the team's only out-and-out striker.

How could Dortmund replace someone who had scored 141 times in 213 games? They honed in on 24-year-old Batshuayi, who had fallen down the pecking order at Chelsea under Antonio Conte, and who was eager for game time with the 2018 FIFA World Cup on the horizon.

The Belgian signed on at the end of January and just two days later he made his Bundesliga debut in the starting line-up against Cologne. Perhaps Stöger's motivation to get one over his former employers rubbed off on his newest player, but whatever the reason, Batshuayi shone.

He scored two and set up another in a 3-2 victory over the Billy Goats, whetting the appetite for more in what turned out to be a sign of things to come.

A familiar sight in February, March and April 2018: Michy Batshuayi celebrating a goal for Borussia Dortmund. - 2018 Getty Images

The forward, a self-professed fan of both Batman and Spongebob Squarepants, was on target in his next league outing too, opening the scoring in a 2-0 victory over Hamburg. He also carried that form into the UEFA Europa League, netting twice in a 3-2 victory over Atalanta in the round of 32.

In the space of a week he had scored five goals in three games, going a long way to ease worries about how the team would fare without Aubameyang.

"When I think about Chelsea, I don't think I ever played two matches back-to-back," Batshuayi told bundesliga.com by way of explanation of his stunning form in Germany.

"Once I arrived at Dortmund, I was given a very warm welcome. I was shown a lot of faith and a lot of love, and when a player gets that he’s no longer the same player. I was always going to play well on the pitch because I wanted to repay them for the faith they had in me."

This coming together with Schalke defender Benjamin Stambouli ultimately brought an end to Batshuayi’s stay in Dortmund. - Maja Hitij/Bundesliga/DFL via Getty Images

After such an instant impact, it came as something of a shock when Batshuayi failed to register a goal in his next three league outings. Yet he soon underlined his top-class credentials again, scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in mid-March and following that up with the winner against Hannover the next week - a sumptuous back-heeled flick from a corner, no less.

His strike in a 3-0 success over VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 29 helped lift Dortmund up to third - they had been sixth when he joined - but it proved to be his last goal in a BVB shirt.

A serious ankle injury sustained on Matchday 30 against Schalke brought a premature end to his time in Germany and although Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said that the club were "interested in buying him" outright, a change in manager at Chelsea that summer ultimately ended BVB's hopes of signing the forward permanently.

In the end, Batshuayi was only at Dortmund for two and a half months, but he still crammed in nine goals in 14 competitive outings during that time, earning himself an enduring place in the club's rich folklore along the way.