There is real hope that 24-year-old Swiss international Manuel Akanji will continue his progression into a truly formidable centre-half, while Dan-Axel Zagadou is quite a prospect himself, aged only 20. Finally, there is Leonardo Balerdi, not even a year older than Zagadou but already capped at senior level by Argentina.
Zagadou is currently suffering the eighth injury of his senior career though, and a 31-year-old Hummels will soon begin the gradual decline that all footballers eventually have to endure. It means there is space for spending in the defensive area this summer, and here 90min takes an in-depth look at the position, assessing potential options to consider investing in.
Manchester United’s Dutch youngster Fosu-Mensah was out of contract in the summer, but the club extended his deal by one year earlier this month. He responded by saying he hopes to establish himself as a more trusted player in the first team, but that seems very unlikely.
A move to Dortmund would fit the bill, as there may well be more football on offer in Germany.
Potential Price: Loan transfer
Serbian international Veljković never found home while playing in England for Tottenham Hotspur, and loan spells at Middlesbrough and Charlton Athletic offered more game time but little progression. However, signing in January 2016 for just £250,000 has turned out to be an absolute bargain for Werder Bremen, for whom the 24-year-old has played over 100 times now.
Another man who enjoys dropping into central midfield if needed, Veljković wouldn’t cost a great deal, and Dortmund would be signing a centre-back who knows the Bundesliga well.
Potential Price: £7m
There’s a lot of noise at the moment around a towering young centre-back from Reims. The centre-back in question is Axel Disasi. The Frenchman has been the subject of recent rumours linking him to Arsenal. France’s talent production line has seemed endless in recent years, and Disasi is just the most recent in a long line of highly tipped youngsters.
But he does seem to be very accomplished for his age. Watching him in Ligue 1 this season has been an utterly breathtaking experience. He arrows into slide challenges at ferocious pace but manages to win the ball most of the time. As is expected from central defenders these days, he is also willing and able to carry the ball well into the midfield, prompting runs from players ahead of him and finding them with little fuss.
Worth the money.
Potential Price: £15m
25-year-old Niklas Stark has been playing Bundesliga football for FC Nürnberg and now Hertha Berlin since 2013. A regular for Germany at youth level, Stark made his senior international debut in November – still the most recent international break due to COVID-19.
‘Stark’ means strong in German, and he is certainly that. Like Disasi, he’s a no-nonsense defender, something Dortmund could do with, looking at those currently at the club. All four first team centre-halves are more risk-taking, modern defenders. Stark would be a savvy signing by BVB – a club few players have managed to turn down in recent transfer windows, it has to be said.
Potential Price: £25m
Centre-back featured in 90min’s list of ‘4 Positions Borussia Dortmund Need to Strengthen & the Players They Should Sign to Fix Them’ – click to take a look at the other positions discussed and who the club could sign in each.