Borussia Dortmund ran Bayern Munich close in the 2018/19 campaign, and competition for places was fierce, so fierce in fact, that these seven players left on loan to get more minutes. bundesliga.com takes a look at how they got on…
Marco Reus enjoyed his best season in years, with a direct hand in a goal every 92 minutes he played; Jadon Sancho assisted a league-high 14 times, and Paco Alcacer scored a record 12 of his 18 goals from the bench.
It’s perhaps little wonder, then, that Alexander Isak, Shinji Kagawa and Co. struggled to dent the BVB first team last term. But what did they do during their time away?
Alexander Isak (Willem II)
With Mario Götze and Alcacer sharing the starting spot at the point of Dortmund’s attack, Isak started last season playing for BVB’s reserves. The Sweden striker’s five goals in 11 games impressed Dutch Eredivisie side Willem II sufficiently for them to take a gamble on the 19-year-old’s talent in January, though, and 13 goals in 16 games later – including a penalty against UEFA Champions League semi-finalists Ajax – made claims that Isak is the “next Zlatan Ibrahimovic” look that bit more justified.
Shinji Kagawa (Besiktas)
Where Götze and Alcacer were in Isak’s way, Kagawa’s preferred No.10 position was utterly dominated by Dortmund club captain Reus, who ended the season whose 17 goals and eight assists came at a rate of every 92 minutes he played. Ankle injuries didn’t help the Japan legend, who headed east to Besiktas for the Rückrunde. The Turkish Süper Lig may not be ranked nearly as highly as the Bundesliga per UEFA coefficient, but Kagawa’s four goals and two assists came at a rate of every 91 minutes, and the 30-year-old suddenly doesn’t seem to be too far past being the midfielder who helped BVB to the double in 2012.
Andre Schürrle (Fulham)
Andre Schürrle signed for then-English Premier League side Fulham on a two-year loan deal last summer. Whilst the 2014 FIFA World Cup winner couldn’t help the London club preserve their top-flight status, his six goals from 21 starts – most of them playing wide of central striker Aleksandar Mitrovic – were nonetheless a reasonable return.
Jeremy Toljan (Celtic)
Behind Lukas Piszczek and Achraf Hakimi in the right-back pecking order at the Signa Iduna Park, Jeremy Toljan spent the second half of the season on loan at Scottish champions Celtic. The Glasgow side were undefeated in Toljan’s nine domestic appearances, keeping seven clean sheets, in that time.
Sebastian Rode (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Injuries have been cruel to Sebastian Rode since he first came to the fore at Eintracht Frankfurt in 2010. Disappointing spells at Bayern Munich and latterly Dortmund have followed, but the former Germany U21 midfielder rolled back the years in the 2018/19 Rückrunde, helping former side Frankfurt into the UEFA Europe League semi-finals with battling performances from the middle of the park. Twelve starts in the second half of the campaign were his best season-long return in five years, and an average of 10 challenges won and 38 passes completed per game suggest the best might in fact be in front of Rode after all.
Felix Passlack (Norwich City)
Former Fritz Walter Gold Medal winner Felix Passlack joined the German contingent at Norwich City last summer, but whilst he was there for a Premier League promotion more than a dash made in the Bundesliga, the right-back played just once for the first team, seeing out the season with the Canaries’ U23s.
Dzenis Burnic (Dynamo Dresden)
Germany U20 midfielder Burnic played alongside – or rather behind – Isak for Dortmund’s second string before going out on loan to Dynamo Dresden in January. The left-footer started, and finished, 12 games for the Saxony side as they ensured the second-tier survival, ending up seven points clear of the drop zone.