Borussia Dortmund – Who Could Replace Ousmane Dembélé?

Borussia Dortmund – Who Could Replace Ousmane Dembélé?

Manuel Veth - The deal is done. Ousmane Dembélé is going to join FC Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund in a deal worth €105 million plus €42 million in

Manuel Veth –

The deal is done. Ousmane Dembélé is going to join FC Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund in a deal worth €105 million plus €42 million in bonuses. Of the potential €147 million Dembélé’s former club Stade Rennes will receive €20 million—not 25% as falsely claimed in the French press.

Financially the transfer represents a significant milestone for Borussia Dortmund. On Saturday Hans-Joachim Watzke announced that Borussia Dortmund had exceeded €400 million in revenues—the Dembélé deal will not show up in the annual revenue calculations until next season. A milestone that was not supposed to be achieved until 2019, 2018 at the earliest, and it shows that financially Dortmund are now one of the wealthiest clubs on the planet.

Hence, the club did not necessarily need the money from the Dembélé transfer. Die Schwarz-Gelben could, therefore, negotiate with Barcelona from a position of strength, which meant that at the end of the day Barça had to meet Dortmund’s demands despite the fact that Dembélé had gone through all the motions to make the transfer happen.

With an annual revenue of over €400 million and another year that ended with a profit (€8 million) as well as the €120 million Dortmund will now receive over the coming years from Barcelona Dortmund are in a fantastic financial position. On the field, the side, however, has been weakened, which of course begs the question of how Dortmund will replace the 20-year-old French winger.

How Should Dortmund Replace Dembélé?

On the annual revenue press conference, Watzke admitted that Dortmund would use the last week of the transfer window to bring in a potential replacement for Dembélé. The Futbolgrad Network, therefore, has put together a list of players that could potentially replace Dembélé.

Julian Draxler – Paris Saint-Germain

Julian Draxler has made a major step forward in his development. (FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Julian Draxler has made a significant step forward in his development. (FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Like Borussia Dortmund is another victim of the Neymar transfer. The 23-year-old German national team player has been fantastic after joining PSG in January. Scoring ten goals and three assists in 26 games for PSG last season Draxler seemed to have made the next step in his career. He then followed up a strong half year at PSG with a strong performance at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in which he was the leader of a young German squad.

Criticized in the past for his career choices Draxler seemed to have made the right decision in joining PSG. But when Paris signed Neymar he all of a sudden became surplus material and with this being a World Cup year needs playing time to make the Germany squad. With PSG needing to meet Financial Fair Play rules the club would be forced to sell Draxler, but at the same time, this would be an expensive package in the region of €50 million to €80 million.

Another obstacle could be Draxler’s past—the 23-year-old was after all developed by Schalke 04, who are Dortmund’s biggest rival. At the same time, the fact that Draxler has since played for two other clubs may mitigate the negative impact among Dortmund’s fans that Draxler’s Schalke past could have. Finally, the last question is whether Draxler wants to return to Germany or whether he will try to foster a move to the English Premier League.

Transfer potential: 40%

Malcom – Girondins Bordeaux

Wolfsburg have targeted Bordeaux's Malcom to add more offensive firepower, but now he could be off to Dortmund. (NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Wolfsburg have targeted Bordeaux’s Malcom to add more offensive firepower, but now he could be off to Dortmund. (NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Malcom seemed on the road to Germany earlier this month when Wolfsburg were close to complete a transfer for the 20-year-old Brazilian. Wolfsburg’s biggest worry about the deal was that Dortmund could interfere in the matter should Dembélé be sold. That scenario has now taken place putting Dortmund ahead of Wolfsburg in the driver’s seat to sign the Brazilian winger. Bordeaux managed to buy 50% of the transfer rights for Malcom in January 2016 for €5 million, who wanted to move to France to adjust to European football before making a move to a bigger club. Malcom believed that the youth policy of Ligue 1 clubs would be the perfect environment for him to adapt to the climate and also get used to the higher tempo of European football. It would prove to be an intelligent move.

Unlike his compatriot Gabriel Barbosa, who moved straight from Santos to Inter Milan and has since struggled, Malcom has managed the step to Europe. Scoring just one goal and one assist in his first six months in Ligue 1 Malcom was outstanding in his first full season with Bordeaux. In 37 games Malcom would score seven goals and five assists. Furthermore, he was finally able to find the balance between his excellent technique, his speed and challenging players in one-on-one situations. This balance was still lacking when the Futbolgrad Network covered the 2016 Florida Cup in which Malcom took part with in with his former Brazilian club Corinthians.

What was already apparent at the Florida Cup was his endless talent and his ability to challenge players on the wing and to beat them. But playing against European sides like Shakhtar it was also apparent that he still lacked the physical abilities to consistently challenge top defenders—his time in France has meant that he has become physically stronger and could easily become a top player in Germany. Despite the fact that third-party ownership is technically illegal Malcom, as it is often the case with Brazilian born players, is owned by various parties. Dortmund have, however, shown in the past that they can navigate successfully through complicated player ownership structures to get their man.

Transfer potential: 60%


Maxwel Cornet – Olympique Lyon

Maxwel Cornet would be a very different player than Ousmane Dembélé. (PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)

Maxwel Cornet would be a very different player than Ousmane Dembélé. (PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)

Maxwel Cornet is the third player on the list who plays in France, which is a strong indication on how strong of a talent pool the Ligue 1 has at its disposal right now—although a winger like Dembélé the 20-year-old Cornet is, however, a very different type of player. Physically much stronger the Ivorian national team player uses his strength rather than finesse to break through defensive lines. Hence, his arrival would therefore somewhat change Dortmund’s game towards a more direct approach.

That said bringing in Cornet would favour Peter Bosz’s system. The Dutch coach likes to play a direct approach that supports fast direct players over players who like to hold up the ball like it was often the case with Dembélé last season. The 20-year-old Cornet scored six goals and two assists last season for Olympique. Regarding goals Cornet, therefore, has similar numbers than Dembélé, who also managed six goals in the Bundesliga last season.

Dembélé, however, recorded 13 assists last season, which on paper made him a more dangerous player. But Dembélé’s assist count was also heavily aided by his partnership with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Cornet would most certainly increase his assist count by playing together with the likes of Aubameyang, Pulisic, Schürrle, Philipp and Reus.

Transfer potential: 60%

Julian Brandt – Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen's Julian Brandt would be an expensive signing. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt would be an expensive signing. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Julian Brandt is perhaps the favourite choice among Dortmund’s fans. The now 21-year-old has been linked with Borussia Dortmund. Back in 2014 when he was still playing in the VfL Wolfsburg youth academy, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund were fighting for the signature of the then 17-year-old winger. In January 2014 Brandt opted to sign a professional contract with Bayer instead of Borussia Dortmund. Since then he has remained on the radar of both Borussia Dortmund, but also Dortmund’s former head coach Jürgen Klopp, who is now at Liverpool.

It was, therefore, no surprise that Dortmund’s ESPN specialist Stefan Buczko named Brandt as his favourite to replace Dembélé on the Futbolgrad Network Gegenpressing Podcast. Whether they will be able to land him is an entirely different matter, however. Leverkusen will want to have a large piece of the pie that Dortmund have received from Barcelona for Dembélé. In fact, Rudi Völler and Jonas Boldt are tough negotiation partners and have in the past rejected Dortmund’s advances for players even if it meant that Leverkusen was going to lose money—most famously two years ago when Bayer rejected an offer for Ömer Toprak even though that meant losing him for far less this summer.

With this in mind, Brandt could become the most expensive player to be transferred within the Bundesliga. Whether Dortmund would be willing to shell a large percentage of the Dembélé millions on one player remains to be seen. As for Bayer selling Brandt now would give them options on the transfer market—particularly since they stay in the hunt for Argentine striker Lucas Alario.

Transfer potential: 20%

Christian Pulisic – Borussia Dortmund

Christian Pulisic could be an internal replacement to Ousmane Dembélé. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Christian Pulisic could be an internal replacement to Ousmane Dembélé. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Borussia Dortmund will not necessarily sign a replacement for Ousmane Dembélé because they got plenty of options in their squad already. Christian Pulisic, in particular, has already made use of the extra playing time received from Dembélé absence earlier this month to make an instant impact. The 18-year-old native of Hershey Pennsylvania scored on matchday 1, and his performance was lauded in the US press in particular as spectacular.

Pulisic has incredible potential and already knows how to play the system. Furthermore, a product of the Dortmund youth setup Pulisic identifies with the club and could therefore become a major personality both on and off the field. His market potential in the United States is also a major factor for Dortmund. The winger is in general regarded as the Messiah of US soccer, and despite the pressure received in his home country Pulisic has performed to expectations.

Alongside Pulisic other youth players could fill the gap. Another interesting name could be Jacob Bruun Larsen. The 18-year-old Danish winger is considered a massive talent and could now benefit from Dortmund losing Dembélé. Finally, another name that could make the most of this situation could be Emre Mor. The young Turkish attacker was set to move to Italy earlier this month, but a deal fell through. Now with Dembélé gone Dortmund could give the 20-year-old a second chance to prove himself in the Bundesliga.


With all this in mind, it will be interesting to see what Dortmund will do next. One thing is for certain clubs now know that Dortmund have cash available, which could make any transfer very difficult. With this in mind, it is not unlikely that Dortmund will do nothing and trust in the squad that they have at their disposal right now.

Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.