Under much uncertainty across the 2020-21 campaign with goalkeepers Roman Burki and Marwin Hitz, Borussia Dortmund were in desperate need of a stable set of hands in goal. Marco Rose will be hoping that 23 year-old Swiss international Gregor Kobel will be that man, and bring the same level of success and durability the club enjoyed during Roman Weidenfeller’s 16 year spell at the club.
Born in Zurich, Switzerland, the uncapped Swiss international started out through the ranks at his local FC Zurich Academy before moving to Germany to join TSG Hoffenheim.
Kobel made his professional debut for 1899 Hoffenheim on August 12, 2018, starting in the first round of the 2017–18 DFB-Pokal against German third tier side Rot-Weiß Erfurt. The match finished as a 1–0 away win for Hoffenheim, with Kobel keeping a clean sheet.
The following season saw Gregor Kobel spend both halves of the season out on two seperate loan spells – first with Augsburg and then with 2. Bundesliga side VFB Stuttgart. His time at Stuttgart coincided with the promotion of the former Bundesliga champions to the top tier of German football. On July 28, 2020, Kobel moved permanently to VFB Stuttgart and signed a contract until June 2024. However, only one year later he has now impressed so much that he’s earned a dream move to Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund. Kobel featured 33 times in 2020-21, making the third most saves in the division (105) and keeping five clean sheets. His impressive performances not only earned him a move to one of the Bundesliga’s best, but a call-up to Switzerland’s Euro 2020 squad as well.
THE MOVE TO DORTMUND
On May 31, 2021, Kobel signed a five-year contract with Borussia Dortmund ahead of the 2021–22 season for a fee within the region of €15 million. The German is known for his high level of concentration, outstanding shot stopping ability, and ability to effectively play out from the back and complete short passes.
All of these attributes will suit Dortmund very well, particularly having astute concentration. This skill should give him the nudge over fellow Swiss compatriots Marwin Hitz and Roman Burki, both of whom could even be forced out of the club with the 23-year-old’s arrival. While his short passing game is good, his long range passing could be an area to improve. However, Dortmund have long-range passing ability already in the form of Mats Hummels, and so Kobel won’t need to adopt that approach too often. His stats in 2020-21 were also particularly positive in terms of saves per goal, save percentage and expected saves.
With a new sheriff in town in the form of Marco Rose, Borussia Dortmund hope to challenge for the Bundesliga title next season, with all departments firing on all cylinders. The signing of Gregor Kobel is a signal of that intent, and more signings could follow as the summer progresses.