Borussia Dortmund’s defence will look rather different next season following the confirmation of Niklas Süle’s transfer from Bayern Munich, a move that looks set to pay rich dividends for both the player and his new club.
bundesliga.com takes a closer look at why it could be good…
On the face of it, leaving Bayern, where he has won multiple trophies, might look like an odd step to take. And yet for the 26-year-old, taking a new step is exactly what it was all about.
"He's got a lot of experience, is calm on the ball and has the necessary physique to be able to take the next step with us from the summer onwards," said Dortmund’s sporting director-in-waiting Sebastian Kehl when the announcement was made on Monday.
So what does that mean exactly? Well, while he is without doubt an important player for Bayern, in terms of dressing room seniority, Süle’s not at the top of the food chain.
That will be different at Dortmund, where he will - thanks to his age, experience and trophy collection - instantly be one of the leaders of a young squad, alongside captain Marco Reus and Mats Hummels.
That difference between being a highly valued member of one team and being a reference point in another is a subtle but significant one. His new teammates and coach will look to him in the big games, so the extra responsibility Süle will enjoy offers plenty of opportunity for personal and professional growth.
“I decided several weeks ago that I wanted to play for Borussia Dortmund,” Süle told Germany’s Bild newspaper on Monday. “From the first time they made contact, I immediately felt that the club leadership really wanted to work with me.
“Hans-Joachim Watzke, Michael Zorc, Sebastian Kehl and Marco Rose really impressed me with their vision of the role I can take at BVB and I had the feeling of being wanted as a player and a footballer.”
And what’s not to want? With a powerful 6’4” frame fleshed out at 218 pounds (99 kilograms), Süle is rarely beaten in physical duels, while he is deceptively quick in a footrace for a player of such stature. Furthermore, his 91.8 percent pass completion rate this season looks like a good fit for Dortmund’s quick transitions.
That in itself will be another positive for Süle. Bayern’s style of play is different to Dortmund’s, so learning to operate in different formations, styles and situations can only help broaden his experience as a player.
Settling in should not be an issue either, as he is already well acquainted with Reus, Hummels, Emre Can and Julian Brandt from the national team. All of which should also stand Süle in good stead with a view to sealing a starting spot for Germany at the FIFA World Cup later this year.
… for Dortmund
The benefits for Dortmund are also considerable in a variety of ways. In sporting terms, they are getting a proven winner in his prime.
Süle has played more minutes in the Bundesliga this season than any other Bayern defender, while Robert Lewandowski, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller and Joshua Kimmich are the only teammates to have featured more often.
If that hints at his importance to Julian Nagelsmann’s side, the statistics shout it from the rooftops. Bayern have conceded 13 of their 21 goals this season with Süle on the pitch; he was not involved in goals let in on Matchdays 4, 6, 14, or 15, was substituted off before Eintracht Frankfurt’s winner on Matchday 7 and didn’t play at all in the loss to Augsburg on Matchday 12.
Watch: Highlights of Bayern's Matchday 21 victory over RB Leipzig
What that means in reality is that Bayern concede a goal once every 102 minutes on average when Süle is playing; they let in one every 70 when he is not.
For a Dortmund side that has already been breached 36 times in the Bundesliga this season (compared to 46, 41, 44, 47 and 40 in total over the past five campaigns), that kind of influence could be priceless.
That is especially true given the experience Süle brings to the table. In Erling Haaland, Jude Bellingham and Gio Reyna, BVB have a youthful spine that bodes well for the future; combine that with an older head in a key position and the balance of the team suddenly looks a lot more promising.
Watch: Time for young Dortmund to mature?
Moreover, in strengthening their own hand, Dortmund have simultaneously struck a blow to Bayern. The shoe has been on the other foot in recent years, with Lewandowski, Hummels and Mario Götze swapping the Signal Iduna Park for the Allianz Arena, while last summer the Reds recruited Dayot Upamecano, Marcel Sabitzer and Nagelsmann from RB Leipzig, who had finished as runners-up in 2020/21. Weakening a rival may not be the main motivation for a transfer, but it is undoubtedly a handy side effect.
Symbolically, the transfer could also have huge impact. Not only does it send out an undeniable statement of Dortmund’s intent in wanting the best players, it also highlights their enduring pulling power in being able to reel them in.
Dortmund, despite a few wobbles this term, still mean business. And with Süle on the books next season, they look to be an even greater force to be reckoned with.
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