Thomas Meunier is more than ready to fill the boots of Achraf Hakimi at right-back for Borussia Dortmund, saying “I always want to charge forward”.
Hakimi departed BVB at the end of the 2019/20 season after a successful two-year loan spell came to an end, and in Belgium international Meunier the club look to have found another winger/full-back hybrid to fit their swashbuckling style.
A former striker, Meunier contributed 13 goals and 21 assists in 128 competitive outings from right-back for former club Paris Saint-Germain, having respectively registered 20 and 22 in 198 appearances for Club Brugge earlier in his career.
Those attacking instincts will stand him in good stead in Lucien Favre’s side, who averaged 2.5 goals per game in the Bundesliga last term.
“It wouldn’t be good for the team if I played at centre-back,” the 28-year-old joked during a pre-season press conference. “I always want to charge forward, so there’d be a big hole in defence if I played there!”
Nevertheless, he is adaptable enough to play in a variety of formations, although he insisted he has no preference when it comes to playing in a three or four-man backline: “It depends on the opposition and the players you have available. You can play with three at the back against Leipzig and Bayern, but it’s dangerous. The main thing is that we play attacking football.”
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That is something he is especially keen on doing, having been asked to play more defensively towards the end of his time at PSG. “I play a more attacking role in the national team and get goals and assists,” he explained. “There’s nothing that compares to the feeling of scoring a goal, and the celebration afterwards.”
Getting forward during games will not be his only role at Dortmund, however. Meunier is one of the more seasoned members of a young squad that includes teenagers Erling Haaland, Gio Reyna and Jude Bellingham, among others, while 15-year-old Youssofa Moukoko is now also training with the first team.
“I enjoy being a kind of big brother to the younger guys, helping their development and motivation,” he said. “With Moukoko, you can see straight away how good he is. Experienced guys like Lukasz Piszczek, Mats Hummels, Axel Witsel and I will support these boys.”
One of the core messages he will seek to deliver is the value of knuckling down and putting in the hard yards: “I’m not a super talented player. The fact I made it as a pro is down to the fact that I work hard. I never complain, I get on with it and I never give up.”