Borussia Dortmund hopes Germany forward Niclas Fullkrug can rejuvenate its flagging attack
Thu, Aug 31, 2023
Soccer News (AP)
BERLIN (AP) - Borussia Dortmund's early season difficulties have prompted the club to go for Germany forward Niclas Fullkrug to get the team on track again.
German media reported Thursday that Dortmund had already reached an agreement with the player for a three-year contract and was negotiating a fee with his current club, Werder Bremen. Bremen was hoping for about 20 million euros ($22 million), but the clubs had reportedly agreed to a deal worth 15 million ($16.4 million).
If the transfer goes through on time, Fullkrug could make his Dortmund debut against promoted Heidenheim on Friday.
The 30-year-old Fullkrug is a late bloomer. He has still played more games in the second division (135) than he has in the Bundesliga (128). He only made his Germany debut last year, and was one of the few positives in another lackluster World Cup for the national team. He scored two goals as the team was knocked out in the group stage. Altogether he has seven goals in nine appearances for the national team.
Fullkrug has scored 46 goals in 99 games for Bremen since rejoining the club from hometown team Hannover in 2019.
Though he has an instinct for being in the right place at the right time, Fullkrug is not just a goal scorer. He's a burly old-fashioned No. 9 who uses his physicality to make life difficult for defenders.
It makes him attractive to Dortmund, which was fortunate to beat Cologne 1-0 in its opening Bundesliga game and was then held 1-1 by Bochum last weekend. Dortmund looked short of ideas and inspiration in both games.
Meanwhile, another old-fashioned No. 9, England captain Harry Kane, scored three goals in two games for league rival Bayern Munich.
Fullkrug will have to compete with Ivory Coast striker Sebastien Haller and young Germany forward Youssoufa Moukoko for a starting place. Haller will be playing for Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations, which takes place from Jan. 13 and Feb. 11.
Germany coach Hansi Flick has already said Fullkrug would fit in at Dortmund.
"It goes without question that he could help the team with his personality and quality," Flick said Thursday, when he included the player in his squad for upcoming friendlies against Japan and France.
Fullkrug was previously overlooked for the senior team since his last appearance for Germany's under-20 team in 2014. But he led Bremen to Bundesliga promotion in 2022 and scored 10 goals in 14 Bundesliga games before Flick finally called him up before the World Cup in Qatar.
Dortmund lost midfielder Jude Bellingham to Real Madrid in the offseason and the club has struggled to replace the England star, who has four goals in three Spanish league games so far. Midfielders Marcel Sabitzer and Felix Nmecha arrived from Bayern and Wolfsburg, respectively. The latter is injured and will be unable to play against Heidenheim, which has started its first Bundesliga campaign with two losses.
Dortmund coach Edin Terzic was eager to keep the focus on the opponent and not comment on Fullkrug's potential transfer.
"Heidenheim is a team that likes to run, they have good physical strength in the team, hit many crosses and dangerous set pieces," Terzic said Thursday before referring to the team's remarkable rise from the fifth division.
"It's an incredible story, one that's practically unique in modern soccer," Terzic said. "They've come from the Verbandsliga to the Bundesliga. What coach Frank Schmidt has delivered is fantastic."
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer"