Transfer humbug has Dortmund fans disgruntled

Posted by Stephan Uersfeld

Robert Lewandowski is left to contemplate Dortmund's Champions League loss to BayernPA PhotosThe uncertainty over Robert Lewandowski's future is a frustrating point for Dortmund

Nearly three weeks have passed since Borussia Dortmund conquered the hearts of many football fans in Europe, but were ultimately defeated 2-1 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. Three weeks have passed, a number of players have left the club but only one incoming transfer has been announced.

- Uersfeld: The Lewandowski saga

Meanwhile, Dortmund have been sidetracked by the ongoing discussion about the future of star striker Robert Lewandowski as well as the ongoing brawl with Bundesliga rivals Bayer Leverkusen.

The European fairy tale ended after 89 minutes when Arjen Robben put the ball past Roman Weidenfeller to end all dreams of lifting the Champions League trophy for a second time. But the future still looked bright. A young and hungry squad that had climbed almost all the way to the top of Europe and would still be eager to return to the biggest final in club football and win it.

The loss of Mario Gotze, and maybe even the loss of Lewandowski, would certainly weigh heavy, but with the help of the money collected on the road to Wembley and even more so with the keen eye of the undisputed transfer market kings Jurgen Klopp, Michael Zorc and Aki Watzke, the squad would be neatly reinforced with a bunch of youngsters and one or two more experienced players.

Throughout most of last season the main problem at the Westfalenstadion had been the lack of squad depth. After super-sub Kevin Grosskreutz, Nuri Sahin and ageing captain Sebastian Kehl, there was a huge drop in quality and funds of some €80 million would definitely up the quality of Dortmund's bench.

The summer started well. Felipe Santana, the Malaga hero, finally announced his transfer to BVB's bitter rivals Schalke, and on the same day Dortmund welcomed the €9 million man Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Werder Bremen. Sokratis, 24, was widely regarded as a good addition with the Greece international set to deputise for a legend in the making, Lukasz Piszczek.

The right-back played a season with what was diagnosed as cartilage damage to his hip. He might have not played his best season for Dortmund but those doubting his qualities might just check with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who was frustrated over two legs in the Champions League semi-final.

Piszczek recently had surgery to his hip and faces a spell on the sidelines. With Sokratis signed a good backup solution was in place.

But really, from a fan's point of view, things took a turn for the worse from there on in. The Sokratis deal already had been overshadowed by a minor brawl between BVB and Leverkusen, who had believed to have agreed a deal with Sokratis and whose officials laid into Dortmund and called them "hypocrites."

However, having won the race for the Greek and with Leverkusen's comments seemingly made out of disappointment, why should anyone following Dortmund really care? The Sokratis deal had nothing in common with Gotze's transfer to Bayern, who had not been criticised for the actual transfer, with the club only triggering a release clause Gotze AND Borussia Dortmund had agreed upon, but for three other reasons:

1. The time the transfer was made public right into Dortmund’s preparation for the first leg against Real Madrid.

2. The timing of the transfer news right into the height of the Uli Hoeness tax evasion scandal, which by now has long disappeared from the headlines.

3. The transfer made public only a couple of days after Hoeness had expressed his fears that the Bundesliga was headed for a dilemma of Spanish proportions with two teams dominating the league year-in, year-out.

All those points of course were not valid for the Sokratis transfer. But a new battleground had been opened and fights continued. This time not over Sokratis but his former Werder Bremen teammate Kevin de Bruyne, whom Leverkusen had wanted to use as a part of the Andre Schurrle deal and whom Dortmund offered a five-year contract.

As both clubs battled for the Chelsea player's affections, a new coach was hired at Stamford Bridge and until earlier this week nobody there said a word about the future of the 21-year-old midfielder. As of Friday, we know that De Bruyne will most likely not end up at The Werkself but whether or not Dortmund will be able to sign their "dream player" is still very much up in the air.

Another name linked to BVB over the past few weeks has been Brazil international Bernard, 20, who after playing the Confederations Cup with the Selecao will still be involved in the Copa Libertadores and will not make any announcement about his future until his club Atletico Mineiro exit the competition.

Just like Denmark's Christian Eriksen, 21, he could be one of Gotze's replacements. But with three weeks passing since the Wembley final nothing has happened, and Dortmund fans have become increasingly worried about the club's lack of activity in the transfer market.

On Wednesday, Greuther Furth's Edgar Prib chose Hannover over Dortmund and his agent explained that the midfielder turned down the offer because the likes of Moritz Leitner and Leonardo Bittencourt had a hard time winning minutes for Dortmund. Both players will be on their way out of the club once replacements have been lined up for Klopp’s midfield ranks.

Leitner's development stalled during last season, but the highly talented 20-year-old will only join Stuttgart on a two-year loan which will include no buy option for the Swabonians, according to reports.

Like Prib, who was seen in a more defensive role as a backup for Dortmund left-back Marcel Schmelzer, Bittencourt is set to join Hannover. The 19-year-old joined Dortmund from second tier team Energie Cottbus last year but only made five Bundesliga appearances for the Champions League finalists. Other than Leitner he will be sold, but the deal will include a buy-back clause.

BVB also included an option to buy Julian Koch, 22, who spent last season on loan at Duisburg and now has joined Mainz.

"I don't feel that great thinking about the rebuilding," German columnist and Dortmund fan Friedrich Kuppersbusch wrote in his weekly column for the daily newspaper taz. "The Dortmund miracle was a 'we will anything better than third league' squad of talents and misjudged. Now BVB wants and has to buy themselves into the top spots. It somehow feels like Bayern," was his gloomy assessment.

The Dortmund miracle certainly had a feel of putting the romance back into football to it. The story the club wrote over the last couple of years, their return from the dead and their back-to-back Bundesliga titles with a squad of mostly nameless players, however, was always going to be a once-in-a-lifetime ride. Things constantly change and clubs constantly have to adjust to new situations.

"The Bundesliga will be amazed how much we are willing and able to invest," Dortmund president Reinhard Rauball recently said. "Without taking any credit,” he added but his statement that was meant to lift the spirits caused a backlash with sections of the club's support, who feel that spending big because spending big is suddenly possible again is the best option for Borussia, very much like Friedrich Kuppersbusch.

All the while the dark shadows of the unfolding Robert Lewandowski drama do not add any positive touches to the current Dortmund situation. The saga has longed turned into a drama heading for a fatal end. The only way out of the complicated situation for Dortmund is to either convince Lewandowski to stay for one more year or sell the player to any other club than Bayern, who have sat and watched the drama unfold, saying nothing.

Having already signed Gotze, Bayern seem to enjoy the unrest their mostly wordless efforts have caused in Dortmund. Several reports in the German media suggest that the Bavarians already have an agreement with Lewandowski and are waiting for the final couple of days of the transfer period to make Dortmund an offer they can’t resist.

Whether those reports are true or not the general tone of the Lewandowski saga and the way it appears to be sidetracking Dortmund from rebuilding the squad does not bode well for fans and officials, who also appear to have a tough time adjusting to the new situation.

New players will join the club and Klopp has promised to build a new "pressing monster." In Klopp Dortmund fans trust. Just like Watzke and Zorc he deserves all the credit for taking BVB back to the top.

The transfer window does not close before August 31 and who knows maybe a player like Kevin-Prince Boateng will appear out of nowhere and sign. You never know with Dortmund.

Die Schwatzgelben might not be back in the Champions League final next year but if things don't go awkwardly wrong Dortmund can continue to establish themselves as the second force behind Bayern Munich. Patience, everyone.

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