Dortmund - What do you do when you've been deprived of the services of the Bundesliga's top scorer? In the case of Borussia Dortmund, you replace him with his Serie A counterpart; and having fast-tracked his way into Italy's scoring elite in the season just ended, Ciro Immobile now has the opportunity to make a similar impact on the high end of the German game at BVB, while simultaneously easing the transition to the post-Robert Lewandowski era.
Goals and more
“He's a real powerhouse, capable of hitting the net from all angles," head coach Jürgen Klopp noted. "He's coming from one of the hardest-running sides in Italian football, so he's well used to putting in the miles and it doesn't seem to have been detrimental to his scoring record.”
A return of 22 goals in 33 league outings for FC Torino stands as eloquent testimony to that, but Klopp's reference to the new signing's workrate was a salient reminder that an out-and-out goalgetter is a luxury Dortmund, like the vast majority of modern top-end clubs, can ill afford. In addition to his finishing ability and endurance, the inappropriately-surnamed Immobile also has the searing pace and agility to carve through opposing defences.
As such, he offers yet another variation on a theme to a team already boasting the turbocharged likes of Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jakub Blaszczykowski and ultimate speed merchant Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in their ranks. In terms of the bare statistics, Immobile's goals per league game ratio of 0.67 was a shade ahead of Lewandowski's (0.61) in 2013/14, while the pass completion rates for both players hovered around the 72 percent mark.
The freshly-baked Italy international did on the other hand get caught offside 47 times over the course of the campaign, as opposed to Lewandowski's 17. He will have to brush up on the discipline front at the club which has just finished near the top of the Bundesliga's fair play table. Ten bookings and one red card resulted in three Serie A suspensions for Immobile; the entire Dortmund team only earned four between them this season past.
The 24-year-old native of Torre Annunziata, in the Province of Naples, is however, “aware of the responsibility this transfer brings with it,” and is focused on “continuing to improve under Jürgen Klopp. I like his tactics, as a striker you're always going to get your chances.” The scoring burden moreover is unlikely to weigh too heavily on Immobile's shoulders. Alongside the aforementioned sharpshooters, BVB have also added two further names to their attacking ranks for next season.
Stiff competition up front
South Korean all-rounder Dong-Won Ji is heading north following a half-season at Augsburg, while 16-goal Adrian Ramos is also fresh on the books from Hertha Berlin. All three newcomers will be initiated in the Klopp system and learn more about their envisioned role in a pre-season programme necessarily curtailed by their respective tours of World Cup duty in Brazil.
With Borussia looking to make another sustained assault on the UEFA Champions League next season as well as challenging FC Bayern München's domestic hegemony, Immobile is unlikely to be short of match action despite the competition for places up front. As was the case when Mario Götze left for the Bavarian capital last summer, the management have not gone down the route of seeking a one-for-one replacement.
Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan provided the double-pronged solution in that instance. Ji, Ramos and Immobile offer Klopp and his coaching team an even wider range of options this time around.
Italy's current no1 goalgetter is earmarked for a pivotal role in the Ruhr district club's bid to retain their recently-reacquired status among the European creme de la creme. “At Dortmund, I've got the opportunity to measure myself against the best players in the world,” Immobile enthused after putting pen to paper on his five-year deal. Come the start of next season, any localised relief BVB's Bundesliga rivals may have felt following Lewandowski's exit for Munich is meanwhile likely to have long since dissipated.