After a 44-day break since their last outing - the 2016 DFB Cup final – Borussia Dortmund’s preparations for the new campaign got underway on Monday, with the players put through some rigorous tests to shake off any summer cobwebs.
A number of players who have been or still are on international duty this summer were absent from the first day’s training, but those who were present wasted no time at all in readying themselves for the season ahead.
Auba welcomes Dembele
One notable participant was Ousmane Dembele, the precocious and highly-rated teenager signed by BVB back in mid-May. Big things are expected of the 18-year-old this season, and so it will have done him no end of good to be welcomed so warmly by another French speaker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Gabonese superstar, who notched 25 goals in the Bundesliga last season, posted this picture on Instagram (below) lending an arm of support and a word of welcome to Dortmund’s new recruit. Alongside fellow new signing Emre Mor, Dembele will be charged with filling the attacking midfield role vacated by Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who left the club for Manchester United FC last week.
EURO stars absent
At the University of Bochum and BVB's training ground at Dortmund-Brackel, the likes of Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Sebastian Rode, Aubameyang and others were checked from head to toe, completing sensory examinations, a battery of running tests and depth perception evaluations.
Those players still involved in or recently returned from the UEFA European Championships in France - Julian Weigl, Raffael Guerreiro, Roman Bürki, Marc Bartra, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Lukasz Piszczek, Nuri Sahin and Mor – are not yet due to report back for pre-season training.
Injured trio Marco Reus, Neven Subotic and Adrian Ramos were also absent, as were new signing Mikel Merino after his extended 2015/16 season fighting relegation with previous club CA Osasuna and USA international Christian Pulisic, who is recovering from playing at the Copa America Centenario.
Dortmund's domestic season begins with a DFB Cup match at Eintracht Trier in August, followed by a home clash with 1. FSV Mainz 05 to kick off their 2016/17 Bundesliga campaign.