Easily selling the pillar Jude Bellingham, the best player in the Bundesliga in the 2022/23 season, Dortmund shows a preference for making profits over competing for titles.
Last season, before the weakening of Bayern Munich, Dortmund almost won the first division in Germany after more than a decade of waiting. There, Bellingham was the main nucleus of coach Edin Terzic’s squad, rising to become the world’s top midfielder at the age of 19
However, just two weeks after the Bundesliga ended, Dortmund agreed to sell the English player to Real Madrid for approximately £100 million. Bellingham followed in the footsteps of Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho or Ousmane Dembele bringing huge profits to the Ruhr club. But Dortmund’s willingness to sell the pillar quickly once again raises questions about the ambition of this team.
Dortmund is famous as a promising destination for young talents in the past decade. The Signal Iduna Park host club may not be among the top strong teams in Europe, but always creates conditions and helps potential stars develop into superstars.
Planning the transfer strategy and training in that direction, Dortmund continuously owns the top young players in the world. More than 10 years ago, Mario Gotze, Marco Reus, IIkay Gundogan or Robert Lewandowski were the names that helped the Ruhr club to win the Bundesliga for the last time. Later, Pierre-Emrick Aubameyang, Christian Pulisic, Dembele, Manuel Akanji, Haaland or Sancho also started to make their name here.
However, as a habit, when a young player begins to have breakthroughs, the Ruhr club does not hesitate to push him away to make a profit. In the list of teams with the largest profits from player sales in the 2010s, Dortmund is in the top group.
Helping young players develop, using their talents to conquer the arena, and then quickly sell them at a good price is Dortmund’s core strategy. However, this approach caused the German club’s squad to be constantly disturbed and unable to compete for major titles.
Since 2013, Dortmund has only won 2 German Cup titles and 3 German Super Cups. In the Bundesliga, in Bayern’s 11 consecutive championships from the 2012/13 to 2022/23 season, the Signal Iduna Park home team finished second 7 times.
The reason the Ruhr club decided to sell young stars when they just “came into the light” instead of renewing their contracts is also a matter of salary. Of the 30 players registered in the Dortmund first-team squad last season, only seven received wages above £100,000/week, and none received more than £200,000/week.
During the 2010s, many traditional Bundesliga clubs such as Shalke 04 or Hamburger SV faced mounting debts, leading to relegation for the first time in years. By the 2020s, it was the turn of the giant Barcelona to stumble upon this scene, and then even owe player salaries.
Dortmund themselves were on the verge of bankruptcy in the 2000s and they don’t want to repeat that. However, with the policy of recruiting top young players to help the club, and then selling them as soon as the price is available, Dortmund can stabilize financially but it is difficult to win the title.
Bellingham is the next name
Bellingham joined Dortmund from Birmingham City at the age of 16 and has since made rapid strides. At the age of 19, along with Marco Reus and Mats Hummels, the England international was selected as Dortmund’s third captain in the 2022/23 Bundesliga season. Also in the last season, Bellingham played brilliantly and was voted the best player in the tournament.
In the England shirt, Bellingham is the youngest player ever to play in a major tournament (EURO 2021 – PV). By the 2022 World Cup, the 2003 midfielder became the core and the best player in coach Gareth Southgate’s squad.
Special talent makes Bellingham a “hot” item in the transfer market. Before the eyes of other teams, there were times during the season when Dortmund intended to keep his star by offering to extend his contract for another five years plus a salary of nearly £200,000 per week.
However, when the summer transfer market in 2023 just opened, the Ruhr club hardly tried to hold on to the 19-year-old player before Real Madrid’s offer. The contract of about 100 million pounds becomes the second most expensive player Dortmund has ever sold in history, only after Dembele’s deal to Barca.
German media channel, RAN, commented: ” The contract of Bellingham and Dortmund runs until the summer of 2025, in which there is no termination clause. Dortmund has the advantage to negotiate with Real in the Bellingham deal, and can earn more than £ 100 million .
Dortmund was too quick to sell their mainstay. In the 2022/23 season, Bellingham made a great contribution to helping Dortmund rank above Bayern to the final round. Although unfortunately slipped at the decisive moment, the Ruhr team came closest to the championship since it was last crowned in the 2011/12 season.
However, they do not hold Bellingham so fiercely. And if selling the best pillar of the season, what basis does Dortmund take to compete with Bayern next season? After many years, Dortmund still shows itself to prioritize financial stability over titles.
” The Signal Iduna Park host club seems ready to finish second forever behind Bayern, rather than being in debt like Shalke or Hamburg ,” commented Sky Sports. But if it does, Dortmund will never raise its stature and position, but will forever be a launching pad for future football superstars.