So, we’d done the domestic double, and the heart breaking dismissal from the Europa League aside, we had had a fantastic season. But to replicate our form in the next season would mean navigating the summer’s transfer window with great foresight.
Since I started at Borussia Dortmund, I had known that as a club, we must prepare for offers from the global elite for our key players, until such time when we took our place in the global elite. This was never a problem for me, as the development of talent, those rough diamonds who you mould into something special was where I found the most joy. The scouting team and I had already drawn up a list of potential players to replace key players who could potentially leave, and with the global elite, and the riches of the Premier League sniffing about, it would only be a matter of time before we would have to act.
Ilkay Gundogan had signed a new contract in the previous season, with a €47.5m release clause, which was soon activated by Chelsea when the window opened. With them offering €345k a week in wages, it would have been foolish for him to say no, and before long he was being paraded at Stamford Bridge. We acted quickly, and went after our no1. Target…
Ignacio Camacho had had a solid season at Malaga, and with some brilliant mental attributes, and a €20m release clause, he soon made his way to the Westfalenstadion for €80k a week. His arrival signalled a change in game plan for me, with Julian Weigl moving to be the primary deeper lying playmaker of the team, with Camacho being the anchor, the steel, and one of the key pressing mechanisms of our team. He had areas to improve on of course, and at 26, he would only improve slightly, but I felt he would bring something to the team in the first instance.
Of course, he would need to learn German, but to help he was sent on an intensive language course, and his brother, Juanjo Camacho joined, becoming a coach in our U19 set up, helping them both bed in.
Big money offers came in for the likes of Marco Reus, and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, with suitable replacements drafted up. Real Madrid were coming in with huge offers, the likes of which had never been seen (at BVB anyway), but Reus was our star, the poster child for Dortmund. The fan who came home to become the brightest player at the club. Not to mention, for a like for like replacement (something I would want with how crucial Reus had been to our previous season), clubs were wanting astronomial fees. Aubameyang was no different, the top goal scorer in Europe, I couldn’t let them go easily. I dealt hard with Real, not settling for their offers, how ever tempting they were. Reus wasn’t happy about this, but I assured him that if they hit my evaluation of him, he could talk with Real…my evaluation for him and Aubameyang was €110m…each. Real stopped calling…but who knew what would happen in the future.
I’d had my eye on Timo Horn of Köln for some time, and been made aware of a €9m buy out clause in his contract. An approach for just under it in the winter had been turned down, with Timo kicking up a bit of a fuss to the Köln hierarchy. I know we should have paid the buy out clause then, but being cheeky, I honestly thought we could get away with a structured deal. The perfect moment arrived when an offer from Roma came in for Roman Bürki. Bürki had had a solid season with us, but for the long term future, I felt Horn was a much better prospect. Still in his early twenties, he would be our No.1 keeper for a long time, even if Roman Weidenfeller would be No.1 literally for the next season or two.
Adrian Ramos agreed a move to Turkey in the winter, so a new striker was a must for us. Aubameyang was going to be my first choice, this was clear, and with Gabriel doing well out right, it only seemed right to pick a player who could play in a multitude of position out front. My thinking was that they could be given game time when rotated with Reus and company, or with Aubameyang and Gabriel…basically, I wanted a lot of options for one player. Argentinian youngster Sebastian Driussi was a name that was repeated back to me often as we scouted the globe. A perfect “rough diamond”, he had all the skills and potential to make him a key player for us in the future, with enough talent to have an impact now.
In the summer, he found himself on the transfer list at River Plate, after putting in a request emphasising his desire to move to Europe. Plenty of big clubs wanted him, and after a fee was agreed, his agent played awfully on this, trying to get a massive wage for Sebastian, and a huge fee for himself. It was off putting, and we wouldn’t stand for it. We pulled out of the deal, explaining our disappointment to Sebastian, having sold him our vision for him at the club. Clearly his agent’s ploy didn’t work with anyone else, and negotiations were re-opened. A much smaller wage (but still very good!) was agreed, and the Argentine made his way to Germany.
Finally, Vukasin Jovanovic put on the yellow and black shirt for the first time. Granted, we bought him last year, but a season long loan back to Serbia meant this would be the first time he would play for BVB, replacing his countryman Subotic. A good youngster, with plenty of talent and potential, he would grow in our ranks, meaning we had a good rotation in defense going into this season…
The window slammed shut, and despite a few wobbles where I put in offers for random players, we kept to our plan and principals, and using elements of moneyball, we were once again successful (I felt) in the window, spending as little as necessary, and boosting the team in areas we needed. Our rivals spent big, but their whole sale changes to the team could prove costly, whilst we maintained the core of our double winning side.