This summer’s departure of Polish striker Robert Lewandowski marks a change for the better for Borussia Dortmund. The prolific striker is set to join arch rivals and reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on a free transfer. It’s the second time in recent history that Borussia Dortmund has been raided by Bayern Munich for one of its star players. Two seasons ago, the German champions came knocking and subsequently took Mario Gotze back to Bavaria with them for a fee of €37 million. Having played the role of principle striker for Dortmund for the last four years, Lewandowski leaving may not be a bad thing. Manager Jürgen Klopp is keen to evolve his team following the disappointment of losing the title last year to Bayern and the still lingering pain of Champions League defeat to the same club the year before.
Lewandowski’s departure should leave a gaping hole up front for Dortmund but Klopp has acted quickly to plug the gap so to speak with two impressive new signings that allow him to try new formations and evolve the club for its next set of challenges. First to arrive was Hertha Berlin striker Adrian Ramos for a fee of €9 million. The Colombian ace has been in fine form this past season in the Bundesliga scoring 16 times and landing a spot in the Colombia team for the World Cup. The muscular 28 year old will act as a target man, similar to Lewandowski but will also offer good options on the ground and in the air for Dortmund’s attacks. His arrival was confirmed in April with the player signing a pre contract that starts 1st July. Now Klopp’s has added a second striker with the signing of Italian international forward Ciro Immobile. The former Torino striker is currently with the Italian national team as they prepare for the world cup but will official join Dortmund on July 1st for a fee in the region of €19 million.
It is a meteoric rise for the 24 year old who finished this season as Serie A’s top goalscorer with 22 goals. Having emerged from the Juventus youth system, Immobile struggled to make an impact, with the Turin giants eventually sending him out on loan firstly to Siena and then to Grosseto with little success. It was his third loan period in 2011 to Pescara that really kick started Immobile’s rise with the then 21 year old bagging 28 goals in 37 appearances for the club. Half way through the season, Genoa paid Juventus €4 million for 50% of the player’s rights with the agreement that Immobile would join them that summer. He did so but failed to spark with Juventus eventually buying back the 50% for a lesser fee of €2.75 million before they quickly sold the same 50% to city rivals Torino for the same fee. The move would prove to be massively beneficial to all concerned with Immobile forging a clever partnership with Alessio Cerci which helped Torino to a 7th place finish in Serie A this season. That prompted Klopp and Dortmund to splash out on Immobile which gave both Torino and Juventus a healthy return on their initial investments.
Replacing Lewandowski will not be an easy challenge but the arrival of Ramos and Immobile should soften the blow. Both are evolving into full internationals and are likely to impress at the World Cup with their respective countries. At 28, Ramos is seen as a strategic investment, brought in to do a job for the next few seasons as the evolution of the club happens. But the signing of 24 year old Immobile is an indication of a new (yet old) direction that Klopp wants to take Dortmund in, refocusing on one of their key principles – to focus on and develop youth. It has been a guiding light for Dortmund in recent years that has become dim thanks to chasing trophies on various fronts. But now Klopp wants to reignite that flame with a new generation of Dortmund players. The arrival of Immobile and Milos Jojic, a December capture from Partizan Belgrade, herald the beginning of the new dawn for Die Schwarzgelben. More new faces are expected over the coming months with Klopp preparing his team for the challenges ahead.