One of the modern day head-scratching issues for football teams, especially for those plying their trade less lucrative leagues, is the question of how to stay financially buoyant. Just about every club in the world (apart from the elite of the elite), has a need for survival by selling their high profile players during transfer season, while still achieving balance in terms of competitiveness when the new league season rolls in.
Many teams over the years have lost steam simply because of their inability to competently replace their top stars after their departure. Borussia Dortmund on the other hand, are a completely different story. We have regularly witnessed the rise of teams across Europe and their fast decline after high profile departures, but Dortmund never seem to fall into that trap. Not only do they sell top class players for massively overpriced profits, but they also manage to replace them with massively underpriced players, who are usually young, year after year. and still manage to compete but does so at huge transfer fees making impressive profits through every sale. Borussia Dortmund have cracked this elusive transfer window code over the years, and we attempt to explain how.
BVB unofficially kickstarted this trend by shockingly sanctioning the sale of Nuri Sahin, the flick footed Turkish midfielder who broke through the club ranks at a very young age. At 16 years old he became the youngest appearance maker for a Bundesliga team, and later became Dortmund’s youngest ever goal scorer. Both records have since been broken by current wonder boy Youssoufa Moukoko. But Sahin was an anomaly at the time, and the start of Dortmund’s success producing excellent young talents and then selling them on far a large sum. Six years after his debut and after establishing himself as a mainstay of Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund midfield, Real Madrid eventually completed his signing for just 10 milion euros. While Dortmund could have accumulated more for his signature, this was a fairly large fee at the time.
After Sahin’s departure, BVB were widely touted by fans and pundits alike to miss his playmaking ability, but their impressive recruitment came to the fore in capturing Ilkay Gundogan from Eintract Frankfurt for half the fee – a meagre 5 million Euros. This proved to be another astute piece of business, as Borussia Dortmund sold the German to Manchester City for a whopping 27 million Euros, just a few years later.
THE MASS EXODUS
While Borussia Dortmund have been the “kings of the transfer window” over the years, they did however slip up by letting Robert Lewandowski leave on a free transfer – refusing to sell him the summer before in an attempt to get back to the Champions League final. They learned from their mistake by convincing future key players to sign long-term contracts. while also signing an immaculate replacement on a cheap fee from Saint Etienne – Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. Aubameyang’s goal return was so good that he beat Lewandowski to the Golden Boot in 2016-17, and put his name on all kinds of records for the club.
Dortmund did however suffer a mass exodus around the time of Lewandowski’s departure including the likes of Gotze, Kagawa, Mkhitaryan, Gundogan, and Hummels. But nearly every single time, Dortmund brought in outstanding replacements. They replaced Mkhitaryan with Ousmane Dembele, and then sold him a year later for €105 million. Following Ousmane Dembele’s departure to Barcelona, they signed Jadon Sancho for an absolute coup from Manchester City, and created one of the best young players the Bundesliga has ever seen. Sancho is currently in talks to move to Manchester United, and the fee will likely be close to ten times the price that he signed for.
According to various publications , Borussia Dortmund have (quite astoundingly) made over 400 million euros from player sales alone in the last decade. They do this by consistently promoting and playing young talent, much earlier than any other club would do, and then turning their young players into absolute stars as a result, who can be sold for large sums of money. Throughout this time their league position never really regressed, nor did they ever lose their competition edge. Some of their best signings over the years beyond Sancho include the likes of their captain Marco Reus, high-flying wing-back Achraf Hakimi, 17 year-old Jude Bellingham and of course – Erling Haaland – one of the proposed future Ballon d’Or winners in world football at the moment. Their astuteness in the transfer market mixed with their ability to groom young talent in their own academies is something very few teams, if any at all, are better at. If a title were to be handed to the savviest of transfer market kings, BVB would glide to a wholly deserved victory at the end of nearly every transfer window.