After moving to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, Mahmoud Dahoud failed to establish himself at the club season after season. At the time of his arrival, the German international was considered one of the very best midfielders in the Bundesliga, and Dortmund’s €12million signing of the Syrian-born superstar was seen as an absolute coup. An obvious baller and astute passer, Dahoud lacked the engine and defensive fervidity that Dortmund desired in his early years at the club and couldn’t find his way into the Dortmund lineup. He was constantly cast aside season after season for the likes of Witsel, Delaney, Weigl and Can, despite his obvious quality on the ball. This left many fans wondering – when will Mo Dahoud be given a chance to shine for Dortmund? That question has now been answered, thanks in large part to current Dortmund boss Edin Terzic.
Dahoud was never a favourite under Lucien Favre, often coming on late in games to replace Marco Reus in a number ten position that never really suited him. He even grew a terrible mustache to stand out, and that didn’t work either. Around halfway through the season, Dortmund decided change was imminent, and sacked Lucien Favre in place of their assistant coach Edin Terzic. Shortly thereafter, results started to pick up and the German manager reinstated Dahoud into the team, giving him his first run of starts for the Black & Yellows. Although Terzic deserves some credit, it is very possible that Axel Witsel’s horrible achilles injury and Manuel Akanji’s thigh injury in February also had a role in Dahoud’s reintegration into the team. Akanji’s absence meant that not only was their one position up for grabs in Dortmund’s midfield, but two, as Emre Can moved to centre-back in his stead. Although Bellingham was developing into one of the best young players in the world, a more calming, defensive presence was still needed without Can at the heart of the midfield. Thomas Delaney would have been the obvious choice having done so well in Dortmund’s nearly year back in 2018-19, but instead it was Dahoud who grabbed the opportunity by the scruff of the neck and got himself a run of games to showcase his quality.
Dahoud has been excellent since his return to the team, ushering a solid midfield unit as the team’s prime orchestrator in possession. His lateral shifting and excellent positional understanding allows Jude Bellingham to do all of his box-to-box running up and down the pitch, and gives the 17-year-old greater attacking freedom. Dahoud has been not only key for the Black & Yellows in dictating possession and switching play left to right, he’s also been key in screening opposition strikers and stopping passes being made into their paths. The German midfielder isn’t exactly a tough-tackling Emre Can or Thomas Delaney, but he has solid defensive awareness and is far less likely to pick up yellow cards or concede fouls. This has meant that even in a 4-3-3, Dahoud still plays as the architect in midfield, with Can given more of a box-to-box role.
Then above all else, the German can produce a moment of magic with an incisive pass forward, an unbelievable assist or an unbelievable goal, at unbelievable moments. This makes Dahoud an absolute locksmith that Dortmund need to keep hold of and continue to promote in their team. It’s obvious to see why Dahoud has done so well for the Black & Yellows, and we have to credit Edin Terzic in part for finally giving the Dortmund man a chance to shine for a team that he’s been at for nearly four years.
Dahoud always had undeniable quality, he was just never given a run of games to show it. Terzic finally gave the German that chance and a few months later, the club is in contract talks to extend their deal with the 25-year-old.