Nico Schlotterbeck: Borussia Dortmund Welcome Their New Signing

Nico Schlotterbeck
Photo Credit: AP

Nico Schlotterbeck has been linked with Borussia Dortmund for some time but the move was formally announced in May 2022.

A deal of around £20 million was enough for BVB to land the 6’2, 22-year-old central defender who has drawn comparisons to club legend Mats Hummels.

Though born near Stuttgart, Schlotterbeck’s senior career has primarily been with Freiburg.

Playing for Freiburg II between 2018 and 2020 before a loan to Union Berlin, the towering central defender made his debut for Freiburg’s first team in 2019 and has gone from strength to strength since then.

He has been first choice for the club during their impressive 2021-22, which resulted in a sixth-placed finish in the Bundesliga.

Schlotterbeck has become a member of the Germany squad this season, earning a couple of caps and a call-up for their Nations League fixtures with Italy, England and Hungary. He will swap the national team for Jude Bellingham and co in preseason.

Sebastian Kehl, who is becoming the club’s sporting director next season, drew comparisons to his own career.

“Nico’s path reminds me of my own because I also came to BVB from Freiburg as a young national player of his age.

“I hope that Dortmund will become a new home for him, just like it was for me then. Nico has huge potential. He didn’t choose the best offer from among the many interested clubs, but deliberately chose BVB in order to further develop his sporting skills here.

“We are very pleased that we could convince Nico of our path and that he made a clear commitment to Borussia Dortmund by signing a long-term contract.”

Michael Zorc, the outgoing sporting director, said Schlotterbeck’s ‘profile fits BVB perfectly’.

This is understandably a signing the club are very excited about, particularly given his links to Bayern. It is a coup for Dortmund as they look to close the gap to the Bavarian superclub (Bayern sealed their 10th consecutive Bundesliga title a few weeks ago).

After months of rumours, Schlotterbeck was pleased to end the uncertainty when the transfer was announced at the start of May.

He said, “After consultation with all parties involved, I have today decided to announce my move to Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2022. In doing so, I want to provide clarity for SC Freiburg, Borussia Dortmund and myself personally.

“It is important for me to be able to fully concentrate on the remaining three games in the season run-in with SC Freiburg, which we hope will be successful. After that, I’m looking forward to the new responsibilities with Borussia Dortmund.”

Schlotterbeck Role at Dortmund

Schlotterbeck is the second high-profile defensive acquisition of Dortmund’s offseason.

The Black and Yellows swooped to snatch Niklas Süle from Bayern, and it’s expected that the pair will be at the heart of the defence from the start of next season.

Dortmund had work to do on its defence. Their 52 conceded was the most of any top eight team. Dan-Axel Zagadou, Manuel Akanji and Mats Hummels all struggled with their form last term.

A revamp of the backline was a must, and it’s an issue they appear to have solved before the window has even officially opened. They also landed Karim Adeyemi to replace Manchester City-bound Erling Haaland.

Schlotterbeck was at the centre of a Freiburg defence that ranked sixth in expected goals against in 2021-22. Like Süle, he is sufficiently good on the ball and mobile enough to play out from the back and be comfortable with a high line.

Edin Terzic could experiment with Süle, Schlotterbeck and Akanji in a back three next season, though there’s uncertainty over Akanji’s future with several Premier League clubs being linked.

Future with Germany

Schlotterbeck is set for a long international career, though he was branded ‘arrogant’ by Per Merteseacker after an error led to the conceding of a penalty against Israel.

The competition for places is fierce in central defence too, with Schlotterbeck going up against his new teammate Süle, Antonio Rudiger, Lukas Klostermann, Jonathan Tah, Thilo Kehrer and Matthias Ginter.

While a spot on the plane to Qatar this winter is all but guaranteed if he keeps up his form after the transfer, getting into the starting XI is less straight-forward.

Hansi Flick was critical of Schlotterbeck’s lack of concentration against Israel, and noted how impactful that could be during a World Cup campaign.

He was also impressed with other elements of his performance, however, and clearly has faith in the Waiblingen native despite the mistake.

His role in the upcoming international break will be indicative of where Schlotterbeck stands in the central defensive hierarchy for Die Mannschaft.

Arsenal Links

Arsenal reportedly pursued Schlotterbeck in January but were unable to get a deal over the line. It was claimed that Schlotterbeck wanted to stay in Germany at this point in his career.

Of course, it worked out well for him with a big-money move to Dortmund. While 2021-22 wasn’t BVB’s best campaign, they secured Champions League qualification, and Arsenal did not.

The Gunners are expected to remain in the market for a left-sided central defender in the summer window.

Given how often Dortmund is a steppingstone club, we could also see Schlotterbeck on his way to the Premier League in the next two or three years if he continues to impress.

Schlotterbeck stats per 90

  • Pressures – 9.73
  • Tackles – 2.52
  • Interceptions – 2.59
  • Blocks – 2.10
  • Clearances – 5.53
  • Aerials won – 4.17
  • Non-penalty expected goals – 0.13
  • Shots – 1.20
  • Expected assists – 0.05
  • Shot-creating actions – 1.68
  • Passes attempted – 55.75
  • Pass completion – 81.7%
  • Progressive passes – 4.52
  • Progressive carries – 4.20
  • Dribbles completed – 0.68
  • Progressive passes received – 0.65