The attacker has signed a new deal with BVB, putting the club in a position of strength in the transfer market for once
It is a picture Borussia Dortmund fans have got well used to and one which they dreaded witnessing all over again.
First Mario Gotze held aloft his new Bayern Munich shirt alongside a smiling Matthias Sammer. Just 12 months later, Robert Lewandowski followed suit. Powerless to stop their players leaving for their greatest rivals, Dortmund could only sit and watch. The season that followed has been disastrous so far, as a team normally challenging for titles find themselves battling relegation, shorn of confidence and neutralised up front.
Despite interest from Manchester and Madrid, for months it appeared Marco Reus would become the latest BVB star to tread the well-worn path to Bavaria, with a clause in the Germany international’s contract allowing him to leave Signal Iduna Park for just €25 million from the summer of 2015.
But, against all the odds, the attacking midfielder signed a new contract with Dortmund on Tuesday. The deal ties him to the club until 2019. Most notably, the deal contains no release clause, giving the board of directors the final say in the 25-year-old’s future.
Whereas Bayern, Real Madrid and a host of English Premier League sides were previously jostling for position in the inevitable June race for Reus, BVB now sit in the box seat in a financial sense, if not in a sporting one, although Jurgen Klopp will hope it provides a psychological boost to his wounded charges.
Thanks to this new deal they can at least put a temporary stop to Bayern pillaging their top talent. Perhaps more importantly, they can name their price and watch the biggest clubs in football join a high-stakes auction for one of the world’s best players. After all, money might be hard to come by a few months from now.
On the pitch, Dortmund remain in serious trouble. Lying just one point from the bottom of the Bundesliga table, BVB are in a relegation dogfight with 14 games to play. Even if they manage to pull themselves clear of the drop, their chances of returning to the Champions League for 2015-16 are slim at best.
The lost revenue involved in a campaign outside of Europe’s top competition is significant. In 2013-14, Dortmund received €34.725m from Uefa for their run to the quarter-finals, while they cashed in €54.161m after reaching the 2013 final.
Such losses are not easily recouped, even for a side playing in the Europa League. Missing out on continental football altogether, and possibly even coming to terms with life in the 2.Bundesliga, would heighten the loss. The departure of the team’s star player for a comparatively small fee would make matters unbearable.
So Dortmund have pulled off a masterstroke by tying Reus down to a long-term, clause-free contract, if only for the greater bargaining position it will give them when bigger clubs inevitably return to their door at the season’s end.
While Manchester City are still likely to show an interest, Real Madrid will also be looking to force through a deal – even if it means waiting until 2016.
“It will be harder for Real to sign Reus now and it may be a case of waiting another year, as happened with Cristiano Ronaldo and also with Gareth Bale,” a source close to Madrid told Goal. “But the club will continue to monitor the situation this season and ultimately, he is likely to end up at the Bernabeu at some point.”
For Reus’ part, he has sacrificed having his pick of suitors for the sake of the club he grew up supporting and first joined as a youth in 1996. It is a decision harking back to the days of playing for your local team, although it would be naïve to believe Reus won’t allow his head to be turned by a team like Madrid.
One or two may now be forced to drop out of the race for his signature if Dortmund’s asking price comes in around €50m, but some of the leading lights of the modern game will still be able to afford the ex-Borussia Monchengladbach forward.
Reus loses nothing by signing on the dotted line. He will either stay with his beloved club for another four years, or leave them to pursue his dreams at the top of the game, safe in the knowledge that he has earned BVB the kind of sum which allows them to challenge for domestic and European honours once more.
It is a piece of business that could provide the turning point in Dortmund’s fortunes and one which shows they have learned from their past mistakes.