Ginter deal is superb for Dortmund
And there you have it: With the signing of Matthias Ginter, Borussia Dortmund have completed their summer transfer business for the 2014-15 season -- or at least acquired all their main targets, as they will obviously keep their eyes open for potential bargains. No other players will leave, of course.
The fee (10 million euros) for a 20-year-old center back is not a small one, but it's an expression of Dortmund's ambition and long-term thinking. And if the 2013-14 season has taught them one thing it is that depth, not only in quantity but also in quality, is essential to compete consistently at the highest level. The additions of Ciro Immobile, Adrian Ramos and Ji Dong-won have bolstered the forward positions, but depth is just as important at the back.
Ginter, who made the Germany World Cup squad though didn't play, can be seen as the backup for Mats Hummels. Sporting director Michael Zorc made it clear that the skill sets of Hummels and Ginter are very similar. He may not be as graceful, but Ginter's buildup play is his major asset -- apart from being pacey and confident with either foot.
While Neven Subotic and Sokratis Papastathopoulos are out there for the rough and decisive tackles, Ginter and Hummels are more sophisticated, the kind of defender who thinks like a playmaker from the back.
The transfer makes a lot of sense given how overly reliant BVB was on Hummels' passing out of defence last season. Whenever Germany's star defender was absent, the black and yellow attack began to stutter -- and he was missed quite a lot. Looking for an adequate backup wasn't easy as Borussia Dortmund have to compete at the highest level in three competitions. Using one of the young guns like Marian Sarr was an experiment that ended in rather unsatisfying fashion, which is why the old and experienced Manuel Friedrich had to step in at times as well.
This brings us to the next point: Having three center-backs of high quality wasn't enough last campaign. Injuries are cruel and you never know when they might occur again. With the addition of Ginter there is great depth now, giving Jurgen Klopp a variety of options.
Why not dazzle the other team with two center-backs who specialize in buildup play? Deep-lying opponents in particular will find it hard to press and prevent two defenders with that kind of quality. An option that sounds just as tasty? Shutting the doors with Subotic and Papastathopoulos right at the end of a game. Or playing with three at the back to overload the midfield. The blessing of young German talents is their versatility -- Ginter can of course confidently play in defensive midfield as well, if necessary.
But just as the thoughts about the range of possibilities amuse, the cynical gremlins are dancing just around the corner. What if the transfer means a departure of Hummels?
Ginter signed a five-year deal for a reason. Of course it is good to know that BVB are prepared for that eventuality, but before you run off to press the panic button, be assured that Hummels isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The 25-year-old world champion (yes, I take pleasure in writing this) has stated often enough that he is committed to BVB on a long-term basis. His contract through 2017 is proof of that. He also stressed often enough that money and titles are only secondary to his primary aim: getting the black and yellows to the very top and staying there.
Reading Hummels' interviews wakes the football romantic in many fans and so far the world champion (yes, why not write it again) has not given one signal that a departure is on his mind. In fact, he identifies with the BVB crest in a way that once seemed impossible for a FC Bayern youth product.
Meanwhile, BVB pulled it off yet again in signing a player who has childhood affiliations with the black and yellows. Matthias Ginter never made a secret out of the sympathies for the Dortmund side, and as Klopp would say, "this can't hurt."
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.