Top of the Bundesliga table at the halfway point of the season, Borussia Dortmund are this season’s pacesetters as we head into 2019. Six points ahead of reigning champions Bayern Munich, Dortmund have made significant strides under new manager Lucien Favre. After a disappointing fourth-place finish last season, Favre’s team have improved dramatically. Arguably the deepest squad in the Bundesliga, Dortmund have found the ideal balance between young and old. Led by veteran and club legend Marco Reus, the Black and Yellow have built a squad capable of competing for many years to come. We will be taking a look at some of the younger players who will lead Dortmund in the coming years.
The Future is Bright for Borussia Dortmund
One of the teams’ many keys to success has been the younger defenders stepping up when it matters most. A unit led by Swiss centre-back Manuel Akanji, Dortmund have conceded just 18 goals so far this season. Only 23-years-old, Akanji is mature for his age, bringing natural leadership to a young defence. It’s rare to see such a good defensive unit led by such an inexperienced player but Akanji has what it takes to lead this Dortmund team to the title. The Swiss defender has all the makings of a future club captain, but he isn’t the only centre-back making a good impression.
Summer signing Abdou Diallo is a versatile defender capable of playing either centre-back or left-back. Making an impact at both positions so far this season, Favre has deployed the young Frenchman with confidence. Only 22-years-old, Diallo has made strides, despite struggling with injuries. Once scouted by Arsenal, Diallo is a promising talent who is sure to play a key role for the foreseeable future.
The third and final central defender is the imposing Dan-Axel Zagadou. Another versatile defensive option, Favre has shown a lot of faith in the young Frenchman. The 19-year-old centre-back has stepped up when Diallo has been injured, including a strong performance against Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker earlier this season. These are three talented, young defenders who look set to anchor Dortmund’s defence for many years to come.
To start the season, Borussia Dortmund made two key loan signings. One was star striker Paco Alcacer and the other was full-back Achraf Hakimi. Joining on a two-year loan from Real Madrid, Hakimi has played a key role for his new team. Capable of playing right and left back, the pacy Moroccan has been a useful addition to the squad. Contributing a goal and three assists so far this season, Hakimi has made full use of the 12 league games he’s featured in. With the club already making one loan deal permanent, Hakimi could well be next. The players’ agent recently said that the player “feels at home” at Dortmund, as a permanent transfer looks more and more likely.
After a quiet first season with Dortmund, midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud is proving his doubters wrong. The composed, hard-working, unselfish midfielder, who joined the club back in 2017, still sits on the bench most weeks but his play is much improved. Making just 13 appearances in all competitions, Dahoud is once again working under his old manager at Gladbach, Lucien Favre.
Signed because of his play with Gladbach, Favre is once again getting the most out of the young German. Now, being a backup isn’t always fun, but being in Dahoud’s position isn’t all bad. Learning under the guidance of experienced midfielders like Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney, Dahoud has two ideal veterans to learn from. He still has a lot to learn if he is to play a key role in the future, which is why Dortmund continue to be patient with one of the clubs most prized young assets.
One of football’s brightest young talents, Jadon Sancho has been invaluable so far this season. Tallying seven goals and ten assists in all competitions, Sancho has been arguably Dortmund’s most valuable player. 2018 has been a big year for the young Englishman. Bundesliga star, England and Champions League debut, Sancho appears to be a future star for both club and country. As Reus enters his 30’s, Dortmund will hope to keep Sancho for as long as possible. However, with players like Ousmane Dembélé and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both leaving recently, keeping Sancho will be a challenge.
This is a club stacked with talent, capable of winning the Bundesliga title this year, next year and the year after that. Dortmund has successfully planned for today, tomorrow and next week, bringing together a balanced group of players. Young and old, thriving together under a manager, who has developed a game plan that gets the utmost out of his players.