Over the past few years, we have seen players return to Borussia Dortmund after failed spells elsewhere. The examples of Mario Gotze and Shinji Kagawa show that. They had varying spells on their return, with Gotze still at BVB now.
Mats Hummels seems to be the next one in the line for a return to the Ruhr Valley club. After Dortmund pulled off very successful pieces of business with the captures of Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt, Hummels could be the cherry on the cake.
Last season, Dortmund hardly lacked in the attack. Their problems never emerged out of their inability to score. It was out of the inability to manage games when the need arose to dig out results in crucial games. Their inability to do so came out to the fore multiple times and that costed them the Bundesliga title, as Bayern Munich pipped them to it.
Against Tottenham in the Round of 16 of the Champions League, Abdou Diallo was out injured and the inexperience of playing in the big stages saw Dortmund give away cheap goals. There was no leader and no one to grip control of a defense that should have done better against a Harry Kane-less Spurs.
The 5-0 loss to Bayern Munich was an indication of that too. Dortmund lacked the maturity to play a game of that stature in a big title race decider. Cheap goals were given away by the side and they crippled under pressure when they should not have.
Against Hoffenheim, Dortmund were three goals up and cruising. Until they conceded thrice in the last 20 minutes of the game to slip up what was a crucial game against a top-four opposition. Against Hertha Berlin, Dortmund gave up one goal leads twice in the game, drawing 2-2 against Pal Dardai’s men.
Against Werder Bremen, they let in two late goals to be held to a disappointing 2-2 draw at home. Even against Schalke in the Ruhr Valley derby, Lucien Favre’s men let a lead slip to lose 4-2 in what another key game for BVB. Dropping those points meant that Bayern overtook them in the league table.
That is why Hummels going back makes sense. He brings in the know-how of winning trophies and the experience of playing in games as big as the knockout stages of the Champions League. Perhaps, if Dortmund had Hummels, they might have gone past Tottenham last season.
Akanji and Diallo are still upcoming stars and need to learn a lot about how they should do a job in pressure situations. They might play lesser games but having someone like Hummels play alongside them will help them more in the longer term. Plus, both of them are well capable of playing at left-back. Implying, one can play at centre-back alongside Hummels and the other can play at left-back with Achraf Hakimi at right-back. Hummels will have what it takes to take the young Dortmund backline to the next level.
After Brandt and Hazard, Hummels could well be the more important signing.