While many clubs may be frustrated by the loss of the highest quality, they may understand the transfer makes it easier for them to manage, Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said.
“It’s the only way for us because when a footballer does well, we have to fight big clubs, seniors, seniors with the oligarchs and the Arabian countries behind them,” Watzke told CNN chief executive Darren Lewis.
“And we can’t win this fight, but we can win the battle against an 18-year-old, like Jude Bellingham, because this player likes to play for Borussia Dortmund because we always have 80,000 spectators, and it’s a great place. The club knows how to manage young players.
“It’s our approach and, well, we have a good department that looks after young players every day, but it’s also important if you have a player here, you have to develop him and I think it works … most of the time, it works.”
Watzke has no doubt about where Dortmund stands in the dominance of the modern game.
The club has grown – and then sold – the biggest and most expensive stars in Europe in recent years; Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Jadon Sancho, Mario Götze, Mats Hummels, Ousmane Dembélé and Christian Pulisic are some of the players who wore the famous black and yellow shirts.
Although Watzke understands that player remuneration is part of the business, there is still a person who has a fine, and in some cases, saying goodbye is more difficult than others.
“Sometimes, it’s very difficult,” Watzke admits. “It really touched my heart when Mats Hummels told me in 2016 that he would leave the club when I thought about seven or eight years because it was a long time and we had a special relationship.
“But sometimes, players stay at Borussia Dortmund for a year, two, three, and during that time, it is not very deep in thought and it is rare in football that players come, players go and if they want to go, OK.
“Sometimes, it’s a good thing; sometimes, it’s not good. When we sold Ousmane Dembélé to Barcelona a short time later, it was very good. When Robert Lewandowski left us without shipping, it was not good, but it was not good. But it was football.”
It seems that Haaland is next in line to leave the fray.
The 21-year-old has scored 85 goals in 88 games since joining RB Salzburg in 2020, breaking most of the Bundesliga and Champions League history along the way.
Manchester City appear to be in line with Haaland’s announcement to release € 75 million ($ 79 million) – a guaranteed deal due to his skills and flexibility – with a number of major European clubs signing, including Real Madrid, Manchester United and Paris Saint- Germain.
During a CNN interview with Watzke (April 26), the Dortmund CEO admitted he did not know if Haaland could leave the European summer window. He knew for sure, however, that if Haaland left, Dortmund would continue to compete as they always do.
“It’s Erling’s decision,” Watzke said. “Erling, you know, he has a decision to come out and he has to decide if we want to get rid of this passage or not and he has time to give us his decision. When the time comes, he will do it.
“But we [Dortmund] we played football for 113 years, and for 111 years, we played without Erling Haaland. We had Robert Lewandowski who later left us in 2014, but we have played football in ’15, ’16, ’17 so far.
“Then came Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and then Erling Haaland and you can be sure if Erling decides to leave us, we will find another one. [player] 100%.