Before Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger made Mesut Özil the most expensive German player to date, Champions League and Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich had given that distinction to Borussia Dortmund’s midfielder Mario Götze in April. At 21, Götze is considered one of the best up-and-coming talents in European soccer and will soon be Bayern manager Pep Guardiola’s main weapon.
Götze’s departure from Dortmund left a gaping hole in Jürgen Klopp’s fast-moving offense — but Klopp has already found his replacement: Gabonese winger/striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, signed to a five-year deal. Known for his lightning speed, the 24-year-old seemed to be the perfect fit for the offense at Dortmund. Playing opposite of Marco Reus on the left wing, Aubameyang has the ability to drift towards more central areas where he is able to have more shots on goal. It has worked thus far through the first five games of the season; his five goals are tied with Vedad Ibišević and Nicolai Müller for tops in the Bundesliga.
Aubameyang has spent the past few seasons with French club Saint Etienne, having netted 37 goals in 87 appearances. With first-choice striker Robert Lewandowski declaring his lack of interest in re-signing with the club after his contract expires at the end of 2013, Aubameyang could easily move into his position while he spends the season working on his finishing skills. With Lewandowski likely out, Dortmund would turn to a trio of 24-year-olds to lead their squad for the next few seasons: Aubameyang, Reus and Armenian midfielder Henrikh Hamleti Mkhitaryan, who was also brought in during the summer transfer period.
However, their focus isn’t yet on 2014-2015 — it’s on maintaining their top spot in the Bundesliga table. They are 5-0-0 right now and looking impressive. Bayern is 4-1-0 so far, losing points on the table to SC Freiburg August 27 with a 1-1 draw on the road. Back in July, Dortmund beat Bayern 4-2 in the DFB Super Cup. So Bayern already looks to have lost some of last season’s mojo, while Dortmund seem prepared to make a run at their third Bundesliga title over the past four seasons.
But it is far too soon to say Dortmund have moved ahead of Bayern. It may take Guardiola a few matches to figure things out and get them where they were a year ago, under now-retired manager Jupp Heynckes. But it is not too soon to say that Dortmund have moved on from being spurned by Götze. They face a likely similar move next season from Lewandowski and have already planned for that. Klopp seems to have his club in good order and has the youth in tow to be competitive not just this season, but for many more after it.