Marco Reus is Dortmund’s own little golden boy. Kids all around the globe dream of growing up and playing for their hometown club and becoming a star, but only a very select few get to live out that dream. Everyone knows the story about how Marco Reus was the prodigal son who came back to Dortmund after becoming a budding star (but if you don’t, check out our On the Spot post on Reus). All this was in jeopardy, as the largest clubs in the world were pining to gain his services.
No one could have predicted that Reus was going to blossom into the awesome player you see today, which might be why Dortmund only created a 25 million euro release clause in his contract. With the way clubs have been spending in recent transfer windows, 25 million would be a drop in the bucket for the type of player that they would have gotten with Reus. Despite Reus’ insistence that he would not be joining Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich, there was definitely reason to worry. Then came the good news, and Dortmund fans rejoiced.
Reus signed an extension, keeping him at Borussia Dortmund until 2019. Perhaps the most important part of the deal is the fact that it removed the paltry 25 million euro release clause. Dortmund had been on a seemingly irrecoverable dive, but this re-signing might just be the parachute that the club needed. Reus had been out with various injuries, but has completely transformed the team now that he is healthy.
Without Reus, Dortmund slipped to dead last in the Bundesliga, with relegation on the minds of fans. They rattled off 4 straight wins, pulling them out of the relegation zone all the way to 10th place in the league. They have also progressed to the quarterfinals of the DFB-Pokal, while somehow placing top in their Champions League group. They did lose 2-1 in their opening leg in the Round of 16 to Juventus, but have the 2nd leg at home, which has long been a stronghold for the Black and Yellows.
Now, they are a long ways from qualifying for any European competition, but getting out of the relegation zone is reason enough to celebrate. Dortmund currently have 29 points in the Bundesliga. SC Paderborn 07 is in 16th place, the relegation play-off spot, with 23 points. So they not out of the woods just yet, they still need results to keep their place in the top division. On a positive note, they are only nine points out of 5th or 6th place, which would get them into the Europa League. With 11 league matches to go, anything could happen.
The team has played without Reus though, unfortunately not finding success in his absence. Mats Hummels has been the rock of the defense, almost singlehandedly keeping the team together. That is what you would expect of your captain, and he has played the part well. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang currently leads the scoring in all competitions with 16 goals, largely shouldering the goalscoring load. Reus’ 11 goals place him 2nd on the team, despite playing a very limited amount of games this season. New additions Ciro Immobile and Shinji Kagawa haven’t quite impressed the way they were hyped to, but have seen a recent uptick in their play.
It seems that all of this could not have been turned around had Marco Reus not resigned with Borussia Dortmund. It might be just a coincidence that the team has turned around their play almost exactly at the time Reus announced his renewed loyalty to his hometown club. You can call it fate or whatever else you want, but at the end of the day, Dortmund have their hero for a little while longer. For now though, Dortmund need to focus on the season at hand.
Looking forward, there is still plenty on the plate for Dortmund, including the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, Champions League, and keeping the team intact. Reus and Hummels are the type of players that will always be getting calls from mega-clubs, while Jurgen Klopp is widely regarded as the best young manager in the world. Keeping all those players and staff focused on winning games would be a full-time challenge in and of itself, but also management need to worry about keeping those assets from the mega clubs.
Marco Reus may have just been trying to stay loyal to his hometown, but he might have just inadvertently saved Borussia Dortmund.