Is Mats Hummels irreplaceable?


It was confirmed yesterday that Dortmund captain Mats Hummels will join Bayern this summer, following on from Mario Gotze who made the switch in 2013 for £31.5m, and Robert Lewandowski who signed for Pep Guardiola on a free two years ago.

It has been the third time in three years that we have seen a Yellow Bee become a Red Bavarian. But this article really ain’t a typical and boring Telegraph or Daily Mail article,drawling about how Bayern are doing something evil to suit the idea and mentality of a wide range of non-Bundesliga fans, it’s how Dortmund are going to replace him or whether they even need a replacement at all.

When Shinji Kagawa left BVB in 2012, Mario Götze replaced him! When Nuri Sahin left them in 2011, IIke Gundogan replaced him! When Mario Götze left them in 2013, Mkhitaryan replaced him! When Robert Lewandowski left them in 2014, Aubameyang replaced him! They have successfully replaced all those players who left them for another club!

So let’s pause for a moment and give that great round of applause that the BVB CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke and sporting director Michael Zorc deserve! Mkhitaryan is arguably Bundesliga’s best player of this season, Aubameyang has scored the same number of goals as Lewandowski did, when you do remove those “5 in 9” minute goals from the Pole’s goal scoring tally. So, any better replacement fellas?

So I think it has brought in the sense of optimism in the mind of BVB fans and well-wishers alike. BVB isn’t done and dusted! And they never have been so. They have always brought in the best of replacements for their departures, and there is nothing wrong in expecting  to live up to that expectation once again.

One of the most admirable traits of Mats Hummels was his captaincy, and it would be the first attribute that BVB want to find in one of their very own old guards.

Lukasz Piszczek, Marcel Schmelzer, Roman Weidenfeller and Sven Bender all extended their contracts with Borussia Dortmund, and all these names are well known “old guards” who have continued to stick with the BVB clan throughout the years. They are old enough and certainly wise enough to captain the first team.

Lukasz Piszczek is known to be a warrior on the pitch, both in his performances and his notable knack of barking orders at Mats Hummels himself. BVB’s “Echte Liebe” literally flows through him. Being faultless in my opinion, he should be the next captain.

Marcel Schmelzer is the symbol of calm and quiet in the Dortmund team. He brings that Lahm-esque effect into the team with his subtle nature of handling his team-mates and is a very likable person. Hardly involving in matters of the press, his cool and calm profile fits the build of a captain. However,one problem and perhaps a very big problem arises in the fact that Schmelzer shits the bed in his performances quite more than once, and when the captain himself  isn’t consistent, the team doesn’t have a leader to look to.

Roman Weidenfeller is another strong option in captaincy, a man saw commanding the backline, but that was back in his old days. Roman Burki seems to have taken his spot in front of the goal posts and is doing well enough to keep Thomas Tuchel from wondering to give back the GK position to the veteran Roman.

Sven Bender has everything it takes to be a captain as he has all the abilities to lead a team, but again, even in his case, he is just a makeshift CB (in case Sokratis gets injured) and also serves as a backup defensive midfielder.

Marco Reus, isn’t he just lovable? He has almost everything it takes to be a captain. Fan favorite, good performer on the pitch, and also shares a beautiful working relationship with his team-mates. But  is just a bit too casual for the role and not “Der Perfekt”. Reus was accused of driving without a license at least six times between September 2011 and March of 2012. It’s excusable if he got caught in that act once, but that was ruddy well six times in six months. Nothing bad since then from his side, but it does reveal his notorious side as well. Also, I do think he is too young to be hailed as a captain for now, and should be happy serving as vice captain.

We have seen captaincy, but otherwise, how serious is the departure of Mats Hummels?

The opinions regarding Hummels currently go in two extreme directions. Some talk about him being world-class; others think he is valued too much. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

The 2015-16 Bundesliga season was a very mixed season for Mats Hummels. He was piss poor in the Hinrunde, his performances only seemed to take a downward curve throughout the matches in the first half. He was under-performing for a man of his class and quality. Come the second half, Hummels was the total opposite of his first half image.

Hummels ain’t a static defender, waiting for the opponents to reach his area of cover, he is rather a man of anticipation. Hummels never CLEARS DANGER, he rectifies situations early enough to PREVENT DANGER using his ball-playing ability and his natural trait of moving away from the defensive back line, in short, he is a modern sweeper, that one little piece of legendary Franz Beckenbauer fell upon the pitch with his retirement.

BVB Guard
Borussia Dortmund’s ‘Old guard’ – Hummels, Gotze, Lewandowski and Reus

The problem was not because of Tuchel, Mats Hummels was well suited technically to his system, but his physical fitness has never been at its best to allow him to perform well playing the way he normally does. He advances up front to aid in the already illustrious attack with his classy long balls and balls played to either flank but isn’t able to track back with the speed he had 2-3 years back, hence leaving holes at the back .

Though he hasn’t had any major injury in his career, a series of short-term injuries in the 2014-15 season seemed to have hampered him. The only time he has looked consistently solid was when he plays with the German NT along with a certain Jerome Boateng, who often helps out and complements the Bavarian center back. No wonder Hummels-Boateng duo will be a success at Bayern but Sokratis or Bender only make Mats look more like a German David Luiz.

So when Mats hasn’t been perfect in the first place in recent times, it isn’t as big an issue as when Gotze or Lewandowski left. In fact, they can look out for a center back who has been playing better than Mats Hummels for some time now ( Mustafi of Valencia CF for example). So, chill out guys ! BVB has handled this before, and they will do it once more !