Given the amount of speculation linking Reus with a move to one of the sport’s superpowers combined with Dortmund’s surprisingly-dismal season so far, the only question about his future was where will he move, as opposed to will he stay.
However, serious approaches from the few clubs who could offer a better package than Dortmund have appear to have fizzled out recently.
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Bayern Munich apparently opted not to pursue another controversial raid of their rivals after the deals for Mario Goetze and Robert Lewandowski. Barcelona’s transfer ban has removed them from contention. Chelsea have instead recruited Juan Cuadrado. Manchester United’s attacking ranks are such a hot mess at present, adding Reus would be a gamble for both club and player.
That leaves Real Madrid – who don’t exactly need a Marco Reus when they have Ronaldo, Bale and Rodriguez – and Manchester City, when it comes to sides who could and would pay silly wages to headhunt him.
It seems that Reus, in addition, is very happy where he is. So much so that his new deal has removed the pre-existing release clause of 25 million euros.
So while Reus the player appears to have decided that patience, loyalty and being content with his current way of life are the most important things for the time being, what does this mean for Dortmund going forward?
Marco Reus extends Borussia Dortmund contract until 2019! Read all about it:
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB)
The club are usually Bayern Munich’s closest challenge in the Bundesliga, and a frequent presence in the Champions League. While the latter is the case heading into this season’s knockout phase, they have inexplicably found themselves in the relegation zone, only just moving off bottom spot with a win at the weekend over Freiburg.
Domestically, the mission appears to be for Jurgen Klopp’s men to win enough games to dodge a calamitous drop to the second tier, cope with a year away from the Champions League and get back to their usual level of performance next season.
However, the Reus news, combined with Mats Hummels going nowhere in January, is a tremendous boost in a sport where many performers are quick to flee a sinking ship. And, if you study the current Bundesliga table, a very unlikely yet still-feasible scenario presents itself.
Indeed, what if Borussia Dortmund can still snatch a Champions League spot after all?
With 20 games played and 14 to come, Dortmund are third-from-bottom with 19 points. The team who occupy this position at the end of the season contest a two-legged play-off with 2.Bundesliga’s third-placed finishers.
And yet, fourth place is currently occupied by surprise package Augsburg, who have 33 points – a mere 14 more than a side fighting for survival at the moment, and only 15 more than the bottom two.
It has been that kind of season over in Germany, where the only constant has been Bayern’s usual dominance. But just how likely is a remarkable switch from the bottom three to the top four – or vice versa – for one team?
If Dortmund win all 14 of their remaining games, they’ll finish with 61 points. Augsburg’s current points-per-game ratio, at 34 from 20, is 1.7 per fixture. If that remains consistent for the next 14 games, they’ll finish on 58 (rounded up from 57.8).
In short, a Dortmund side who’ve lost more than half of their league games so far and failed to win three-quarters of them will need a miracle to reel in the likes of Augsburg, third-placed Schalke (ahead on goal difference) and Borussia Moenchengladbach (one point behind in fifth).
But the counter-argument is simple, and a lot less statistical: this season has already been crazy enough. How can we rule out another massive switch before May?
Werder Bremen offer a great example. When Dortmund’s woes first deepened from a rare bad start to a serious crisis, they were joined by other illustrious German sides with great pedigree down at the wrong end, such as Stuttgart (currently bottom), Hamburg (12th but just four points safe after a minor winter improvement) and, yes, Bremen.
As recently as early December, however, Bremen looked the most bent-out-of-shape of all the country’s top-flight sides, and after a small run of form are already up to eighth, just six points off Bayer Leverkusen’s sixth-placed Europa League spot.
It would be very surprising if Augsburg sustain a 1.7 average per game, too. But even if they did, we cannot just assume those around them, barring Bayern and probably second-placed Wolfsburg, are locks for European spots for next term.
Schalke, Moenchengladbach and Leverkusen in the top six are all more seasoned when it comes to the top end of the table than Augsburg are, but then so are Dortmund, and look where they are now.
Considering how much we’ve seen of Dortmund at their best in Europe in the very same season they’ve hit disaster at home, we cannot just assume the uncharacteristic form is exclusive to themselves and Augsburg.
Dortmund’s next three Bundesliga fixtures are at home to out-of-sorts Mainz on Friday, away to bottom side Stuttgart the following week and, after their last-16 first-leg encounter at Juventus, a heated derby day at home to Schalke.
This squad can win all of those games, even if they haven’t looked it so far this season. If they do, they’ll be on 28 points. With everyone presently sat from seventh to 13th within the 22-26 points range, three wins should guarantee them at least a return to the top half of the table regardless of which combination of results elsewhere we get.
Suddenly, with 11 games left to play, Dortmund could be an outside bet for a Europa League or even Champions League qualification finish. And momentum would be back on their side.
At the end of last year I argued that Dortmund’s domestic form in the first half of the season coming at a time when speculation linking Jurgen Klopp to a coaching job in England meant the board should let him go, in hopes they’d rediscover the solidarity Klopp brought to the club years ago.
Read that piece here.
As a fan of what Klopp has done at the club and the style of football he has put into place there, this really is one of those times I hope I end up being proven wrong.
Reus and Hummels’ faith in Klopp and the club is already showing signs of stimulus at Signal-Iduna Park, suggesting the points of concern in that Christmas blog may not be the case, thankfully for them.
A sleeping giant may be about to wake up from a six-month slumber.
And if they can do the impossible and somehow ensure Champions League football in 2015/16, whether by going all the way in this year’s tournament or by one of European football’s greatest escapes and finishing in the top four, the achievement will be up there with the consecutive Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 as well as the Wembley final in 2013.
Liam Happe | Follow on Twitter @liamhappe
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