May 23, 2019 9:31:23 pm
Days after narrowly losing out to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, Dortmund signed three internationals to better challenge for the title next season.
Julian Brandt and Nico Schulz have joined from Bayer Leverkusen and Hoffenheim, respectively, while Belgium forward Thorgan Hazard has switched from Borussia Mönchengladbach.
“It’s time to be more ambitious. We’ll go into the season with the clear proviso to try again for the German championship,” Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said Tuesday, three days after Bayern won the title by two points.
“There is no second force in Germany other than Borussia Dortmund,” Watzke said. “With the exception of 2018, we fought for a title to the end for the past decade. That’s why we’re going to be more offensive now. Let’s see what we get for it.”
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In Brandt and Hazard, Dortmund is significantly boosting its options in attack, while Schulz, who has two goals in six appearances for Germany, should help shore up a defense that was prone to late nerves last season.
Schulz, who trained briefly under Dortmund coach Lucien Favre when they were both at Gladbach, will fill a hole at left back, where neither Marcel Schmelzer (31) nor Jeremy Toljan (24) appear to have the coach’s confidence.
The 23-year-old Brandt, who played for Leverkusen alongside 19-year-old Kai Havertz last season, had been a target for many clubs because of his consistently good performances since making his Bundesliga debut when he was 17.
“He’s still a young player with lots of potential for development,” Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said.
Hazard, at 26, is also young, and along with Brandt he will give Favre a fearsome range of options in attack. The Swiss coach already had Marco Reus, Paco Alcacer, Mario Götze and Jadon Sancho at his disposal. Hazard and Brandt cost less than what Dortmund received for the Chelsea-bound Christian Pulisic.
Mateu Morey, a 19-year-old Spanish winger, was reportedly also joining the club on a free transfer from Barcelona, while Dortmund signed 19-year-old Argentine defender Leonardo Balerdi from Boca Juniors in January.
The transfers – and the lessons learned from a season in which it frittered away a nine-point lead – should help Favre turn Dortmund into a serious rival for Bayern and possibly claim a first league title since 2012.
“We are worlds apart from Bayern financially,” Watzke said. “We’re not so foolish as to say we have to be German champions now. But to stay on the case would be pretty good.”
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