Borussia Dortmund are hoping to find a player in the mould of Xabi Alonso when they begin their process of rebuilding their squad this summer, CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said.
Watzke told FAZ last week that there would be massive changes at the end of the season, and although Dortmund’s recent run of four wins and three draws from their last seven matches have returned them to the Champions League spots, they have looked anything but inspired in the majority of those games.
Dortmund have played all but one of their last seven games against clubs in the bottom half of the league — including a 2-0 win against Hamburg on Saturday — and appear set to battle for a return to Europe’s biggest club competition until the end of the season.
Speaking on Sky on Sunday, Watzke addressed Dortmund’s need for an aggressive leader in holding midfield and said Alonso, the former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich player who retired in 2017, is what they need.
“We need another player who has that evil look at times — someone who will go in a tackle to hurt,” Watzke said. “I’ve admired Xabi Alonso.”
Dortmund have Julian Weigl, but Watzke said the Germany international still needed experience to grow into that role.
“He’s not got the body yet,” Watzke said. “Maybe he also needs to be more evil.”
Dortmund received Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi on loan until the end of the season following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s big-money move to Arsenal last month, but Watzke confirmed the club have no option to make the deal permanent.
“We tried that, but it just wasn’t possible,” Watzke said. “There are no boards, but you deal with Roman Abramovich or his governor, and if they say ‘Nyet,’ it means ‘Nyet‘.”
Dortmund have not given up hope to sign the Belgium international, who scored three goals in his first two games at Dortmund, on a permanent contract.
“[Olivier Giroud] did not join [Chelsea] to leave straightaway. That place is taken,” Watzke said. “There’s always a chance. If Batshuayi scores in every match, it’ll get more difficult. Other clubs will come. Or, he says that he wants to stay at Dortmund.”
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.