FEATURE | Four players to replace Erling Haaland at Borussia Dortmund

With the announcement of Erling Haaland’s move to Manchester City now official, Borussia Dortmund are tasked with unearthing the next big talent, something they’re all too familiar with.

Dortmund have already made some serious strides in terms of trying to offset the loss of their prolific Norwegian striker. Young Germany international Karim Adeyemi was announced as BVB’s third signing following the club securing both Nico Schlotterbeck and Niklas Süle on the defensive end. Adeyemi follows in Haaland’s footsteps, joining Die Schwarzgelben on a five-year contract until 2027. The players contract, unlike Haaland’s, doesn’t include a release clause.

The 20-year-old however is not seen by the club as a direct replacement for Haaland. In fact, the player himself said that he’s a different player from the Manchester City bound Norwegian goal machine.

The club is planning on bringing in a No. 9 to help lead the line and take the pressure of scoring goals off the German international to a degree. Over reliance on a singular player (i.e. Haaland) has already been a symptom of Dortmund’s woes, so the club seem to want to diversify their goal threat options even more for the coming season, and rightfully so.

A healthy number of names have been rumored with Dortmund in the advent of Haaland’s departure, the most prominent of which are Adam Hložek, Hugo Ekitike, Sebastian Haller, and Benjamin Šeško. Each player listed comes with their own profile that makes them the types of candidates one would expect Dortmund to go for, however the club will have to be meticulous in deciding which one will be the best fit to help lead the line next season. Let’s take a look at each and see what they bring to the table.

Hugo Ekitike (19) – Stade de Reims

Hugo Ekitike is a player that burst onto the scene with Reims this season. The young Frenchman has played 23 games for his club, scoring nine times and assisting a further three.

Those that have followed Ekitike’s development highlighted key attributes such as his dynamism, movement, and overall positioning. The player does a good job of putting himself in positions for his teammates to find him with a through ball or cross. He also has the pace to make it difficult for opposition defenders to keep up with him once he’s set free by his teammates.

With Ekitike in particular, the one concern Dortmund might have is that this is his first season performing at the top level, which could either indicate that he is far more talented than most players his age, or that he simply had a singular good season.

Limited experience at the top level of football in his native country could see Ekitike struggle with a move to the Bundesliga. If there is any club that has the proven track record to help the young player succeed however, it would be Borussia Dortmund. The player is also allegedly being pursued by Premier League side Newcastle United, so it remains to be seen where the player will end up.

Sébastien Haller (27) – Ajax

At the top of Dortmund’s shortlist allegedly sits Sébastien Haller. The Ivory Coast and Ajax striker has been heavily linked with a move to Dortmund, and would be the only player on this list that is in their prime. At 27, Haller’s move to Dortmund could be his final “big” move, and would likely solidify him as a focal point in Dortmund’s attack for some time, should performances indeed be deemed adequate.

Haller has scored 32 goals and created eight across the Eredivisie and Champions League this season, which is a good haul for the player, especially considering his struggles in the Premier League with West Ham prior to moving to Amsterdam. Since his move, not only has he been an integral part of Ajax’s attack, he managed to break the record for most goals scored over the course of a player’s first five games in the competition, and then managed a total of 11 in 8 games.

The main facets of Haller’s game that should be of interest to Dortmund come in the form of his overall strength and aerial threat. The Ivorian international is also capable of finishing with both feet and is useful in terms of build-up play as he can hold up the ball to allow his teammates to join him in the attack. The player has also proven himself in the Bundesliga with his previous stint at Eintracht Frankfurt, so there may be less of a curve in terms of Haller settling in within the league.

At around €35m, Haller’s price tag will be a hefty sum for Dortmund to pay. The money will likely have to come from sales of players like Manuel Akanji among others for the club to pull the trigger on any potential deal. With Robert Lewandowski also confirming that he will not sign a new contract with Bayern Munich, the Bavarian club has also seemingly entered the race for Haller and will rival Dortmund for his signature, should they choose to truly pursue him.

Adam Hložek (19) – Sparta Prague

One of the most quintessential Dortmund-esque targets on this list is Adam Hložek. The young Czech international, who plies his trade with Sparta Prague, has been linked with Dortmund for a few transfer windows now and is one of the more interesting players on this list.

Firstly, it’s important Hložek isn’t your typical number 9, which would mean he wouldn’t be an out and out replacement for Haaland. The Czech international is comfortable playing as a striker or a winger, which would make him a far more versatile option up front than the Norwegian. He does have some similarities with Haaland in the sense that he does have a level of physicality to his game. He is also very good technically and able to dribble past attackers despite his tall frame. 

One of the impressive facets of Hložek profile as a player is that at his young age, he has been able to establish himself as a critical player for his side over the course of four seasons now. He has made 105 first team appearances in the Czech First League for Sparta Prague at just 19, which lends itself to his “readiness” for a move when compared to someone like Hugo Ekitike who has experienced once season of first team football so far.

In terms of price, Hložek is allegedly available this summer for €20m. This is allegedly based on an agreement the players has with the club to leave now that the season has concluded.

Benjamin Šeško (18) – RB Salzburg

Of the players linked to Dortmund so far, Benjamin Šeško would seem to fall in the same category as Hugo Ekitike, namely young and promising. Šeško does have more appearances than Ekitike, with the player featuring in 36 games across all competitions this season. Across those games, he has scored 11 and assisted seven, which is a very decent haul for a player just 18-years-old.

Šeško’s style of play is based on strength, pace, and a potent scoring ability which have seen the player earn comparisons to the player he would be replacing at Dortmund: Erling Haaland. Like the Norwegian international, he is tall, strong and able to score from a variety of positions, making him a very unpredictable attacker. The player also possesses significant speed which is always welcome up front for Dortmund. Šeško has also proven that he can play in a strike partnership, which adds to tactical flexibility.

Finally, it’s important to note that the addition of Šeško would see him pair up with Karim Adeyemi, who he knows from his time at Salzburg. Having played with the aforementioned Adeyemi, it may well be that they both settle easier in attack for Dortmund should they indeed be partnered up as Dortmund’s next strike duo.

In terms of price, the value of the deal may be a tricky one to pinpoint. Šeško’s valuation per Transfermarkt is closer to €8m, however with his contract running until 2026, this may push his price substantially higher, as Salzburg is under no pressure to sell.

Overall, the targets that Dortmund are looking into represent the type of player that one might expect the club will look into – young, talented and with high potential for them to become future stars. The one outlier is Haller, who is in his prime and at the peak of his powers. Signing replacements for established stars is always come with a risk but it will be up to Sebastian Kehl and Co. to decide whether it’s time for the club to stick to their approach of signing young and promising players or go with a more experienced player who has already proven himself in the Bundesliga but has also shown past inconsistencies.

Brian Szlenk

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