It’s been a bit of a merry go round at the striker position for Borussia Dortmund in the last couple of years. Since the sale of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Arsenal, there has been a constant ebb and flow of players that have been brought in to fill the void he left behind. Since his departure, the club have played with Michy Batshuayi, Alexander Isak, Mario Götze, Maximillian Philipp and Paco Alcácer up top. It would only be with the signing of Alcácer that the club have managed to find a forward capable of scoring the 15 plus goals they need a season from a player in that position. Alcácer’s output has been astonishing, with the forward scoring 18 goals, with more than two thirds of them coming from substitute appearances. The Spain international now holds the record of the best goal per minute ratio in the Bundesliga, scoring a goal every 61 minutes across a total of 1,098 minutes in 24 appearances.
With Alcácer putting in such stellar performances this season, it would be easy to sit back and think that Dortmund’s striker problems are solved. It may, however, behove Dortmund to consider that the Spain international may need a player to share the burden of leading the line within the coming campaign. While Paco has clearly proven he is a quality forward that can be relied on to score goals, he has also proven to be slightly injury prone and has struggled with fitness this past season. The sale of Alexander Isak now means that the only real back up we have for Alcácer is Mario Götze, who while having performed admirably when called upon, is not a natural striker. From the perspective of a fan who has watched the team struggle with injuries so much this season, the purchase of another striker would likely set my mind, and the minds of fans at ease knowing that the team will not be relying on the health and performances of one player alone in that position.
So, who can Dortmund get that will both provide backup to Alcácer, but perhaps provide competition for the starting spot as well? A name that comes to mind is Patrik Schick. The 23-year-old currently plies his trade with AS Roma in Serie A. The Czech international has been linked with Dortmund on numerous occasions. Football Italia reported that Die Schwarzgelben had indeed made an offer to Sampdoria but when his move to Juventus fell through, Schick opted to stay in Italy and join Roma instead.
More recently, Dortmund have been linked with yet another move for the Czech international. According to Calciomercato, the Bundesliga club are eyeing a deal that may come in the form of a loan. If the rumours are to be believed, Dortmund may finally get their man, and with all the skills and ability Schick brings to the table, he could very much prove to be yet another coup for the club in what has already been a scintillating transfer window.
Who is Patrik Schick?
Born and raised in the Czech Republic, Patrik Schick started his career for hometown club Sparta Prague, where he debuted in 2014. His time with Sparta was short lived, however. The player made only a handful of appearances before he was loaned out to Bohemians 1905. In his solo season with Bohemians, Schick scored 8 times in 27 appearances and this was enough to garner Sampdoria’s attention. The Italian club came calling in 2016, and it wouldn’t take long for the rest of the world to notice. In 14 appearances for the club, Schick contributed 11 goals and 3 assists, helping Sampdoria finish 11th in the table.
His performances once again caught the attention of a variety of larger clubs, including the likes of Juventus. Everything was set for a transfer to the Bianconeri, but Schick’s medical results stifled any chance of a move going through. A heart inflammation made sure that Juventus’ management had second thoughts regarding Schick’s transfer, and they eventually pulled the plug on the deal. Left in a state of confusion, Schick focused on his health, and managed to resolve his medical issues. It would be at this time that both Dortmund and Roma would come calling, but Schick decided to join the team from the Italian capital, citing feeling settled in the country and already knowing the language as the main factors underlying his decision.
The move to Rome, it has to be said, hasn’t been a smooth one for Schick. Across the two seasons he’s played in a Roma shirt, Schick has featured in a total of 25 league games, scoring only 5 goals. This is a stark drop in production from his days as a Sampdoria player, which would understandably make any club question making Schick a potential acquisition, at least at face value. A string of injuries in the first few months following his transfer and having to fight for a starting position with Edin Džeko surely played a role in this. In fact, since his move to Rome in 2017, Schick has spent a total of 99 days out injured, missing extensive game time in the process. This too, could be a red flag, especially considering that many of Dortmund’s current players also have lengthy injury histories.
Despite these negative facets and risks that come along with a move for Schick, there are quite a few positives that can’t be ignored, and a lot of them stem from the type of player Schick is, and how well he would complement the retinue of players we already have.
Schick’s style of play:
Patrik Schick embodies the sort of player that I believe would provide a unique edge to Dortmund’s style of play. According to a scouting report written for Outside of the Boot, Kaustubh Pandey describes a player capable of occupying multiple positions on the field. While Schick predominantly plays as a striker, he is more than capable of slotting in just behind the striker as well. His ability to pick out gaps in defence make him a deadly asset in attack, something he exhibited quite plainly with Sampdoria.
Schick in many ways reminds me of Krzysztof Piątek. Just like the Poland international, Schick can blow past defenders despite his height, and shows good ball control, which allows him to effectively dribble past players within the box to either score or create a scoring opportunity for a teammate.
While Dortmund have an ample number of dribblers and technically gifted players in the team, Schick also possesses quality in the air, something Dortmund haven’t really had in the striker position since Adrian Ramos left the club in 2017. He is more than capable in the air and has scored quite a few headers for both Roma and the Czech national team to underline this. This combination of skills makes Schick a well-rounded player, one that can pose a threat in both open play and during set pieces.
Dortmund’s capability to sign the player:
If we’re looking at this transfer from a realistic standpoint, it may seem very unlikely that Dortmund will dip into the market to spend much more this summer. The recent return of Mats Hummels cost the club a hefty €30.5 million plus potential add-ons. If you add this to the cost of Julian Brandt, Nico Schulz and Thorgan Hazard, it would make sense if the club didn’t outright purchase any more players until some of the current squad was sold. There’s no reason for the club to not consider a potential loan, which would seem to be what sources have been suggesting.
A loan deal for Schick could benefit both club and player. For one, Dortmund would be adding yet another weapon to their already deadly attack. He would bring something to the table that no other forward in the current squad can bring consistently; his aerial presence. Schick would certainly be still playing second fiddle to Paco Alcácer, but the Spaniard has shown that his fitness still isn’t at a hundred percent since his transfer from Barcelona. He too has suffered with injuries since joining Dortmund and it would be good to have a player that could share the burden with him upfront.
For Schick, this would mean more playing time than perhaps he would have at Roma, and a chance at some silverware. The Italian club clearly still doesn’t see him as a starter, which is evidenced by their willingness to loan him out despite rumours linking Džeko to Inter Milan. At Dortmund, he would be able to play a prominent role in helping Dortmund challenge for the Bundesliga title, something Roma is unlikely to do in Serie A in the coming season due to the current state of affairs at the club. A potential loan would allow Dortmund to perhaps see if the player is worth making a more concrete bid for next summer and allow Schick to further develop the talent he has already exhibited with a team known for doing just that: developing young players into talented superstars.
By Brian Szlenk.