Borussia Dortmund seem to have identified VFB Stuttgart’s Gregor Kobel as their number one goalkeeping target. With the season over, the Black and Yellows are already planning for the next season. Their top priority is to bring in a solid goalkeeper to replace Burki.
One of the major weak points of Dortmund over the past couple of seasons has been their goalkeeping department. The number one choice of the team in this period was Roman Burki, who couldn’t live up to the club’s expectations. The Swiss international is a good shot-stopper but Dortmund needs a world-class keeper.
A major criticism for the 30-year-old is that he is error-prone. Burki makes unwanted errors in decision-making and puts his defenders under pressure. While Dortmund’s defense also is to be blamed, having a dependable keeper goes a long way. This is particularly evident in dealing with set pieces and crosses. Burki is not dominant in dealing with them and Dortmund is often cut open in such scenarios.
Burki is a good passer of the ball, but his defensive actions outside the penalty area have reduced. This means that he is not coming outside the box to clear the ball as he used to. His poor form of late led Marwin Hitz to take over as the main choice keeper now.
IS KOBEL THE RIGHT MAN FOR DORTMUND?
Thus from the outside, bringing in Kobel for Burki is an easy and sensible decision. Burki is 30 and is quite visibly not in his best form. Kobel, only 23 is a more long-term option for Dortmund. Marwin Hitz, who is the other option is also not young.
Kobel is a towering presence and at 23 has time to develop. He does stay closer to the post on crosses, which should be a concern given Dortmunds weakness in defending them. He also makes very little defensive action outside the penalty area.
Kobel’s Save percentage is 68.4 according to the stats website FBREF. This puts him in the 8th position among the Bundesliga goalkeepers. While this is more than that of Marwin Hitz (66.7), it is still lower than that of Roman Burki (70.8).
Defensive action outside of the penalty area sees the 23-year-old being placed 15 out of the 19 Bundesliga keepers. Similar is the situation for the pass completion rate. Overall Kobel ranks either in the middle or below the average marks for most metrics and is clearly below Roman Burki on the list.
There are many options in the market, especially in England. One curious name is that of Dean Henderson. The English shot-stopper is reportedly unhappy with the lack of clarity in Manchester United regarding their first-choice goalkeeper. With David de Gea still at the club, Henderson is left on the bench with the Spaniard being given the priority.
While the chance for United to let go of their young English goalkeeper is very slim there could be a catch. Manchester United has been linked with a move for Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, however, they couldn’t land him last summer. If they are still interested in bringing in Sancho, they could use Henderson to sweeten the deal.
A more realistic option though would be Alphonse Areola. The French international was relegated with Fulham in the Premier League, where he was playing on loan. Yet Areola was impressive with his performances. He had a save percentage of 73.1, which easily dwarfs that of Kobel and Burki. Still, under contract at PSG, Areola would want to play regularly at a higher level. Though 28, Areola comes with vast experience, winning trophies with PSG and Real Madrid alongside the World Cup with France.
The 21-year-old has been incredible for Marcelo Bielsa’s side. Meslier starts the play from the back, is comfortable with the ball at his feet, and also is a good shot-stopper with a save percentage of 75.1 in the Premier League this season. He still has to develop his game but fits well into the ethos of the Dortmund squad.