BERLIN (Reuters) - Borussia Dortmund have a proven track record in recent seasons of replacing a departing top striker with an equally efficient forward and the Ruhr valley club is hoping to continue this run with the arrival of Michy Batshuayi.
The Belgian joined until the end of the season on a loan deal from Chelsea in order to fill the gap left by the transfer of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, last season’s Bundesliga top scorer, to Arsenal and the Premier League on Wednesday.
Replacing the Gabon international is no small feat with Abameyang having scored 98 goals in 144 Bundesliga matches for Dortmund.
He also grabbed 15 goals in 32 Champions League matches for them as well as another 15 in 15 German Cup games for a stellar scoring record during his four-and-a-half years in Germany.
Until his disciplinary offences in the past weeks where he missed a meeting or “was not focused enough” that angered Dortmund fans as he essentially forced his transfer, he was a crowd favourite with a lethal finish and 13 league goals to his name already this season.
But Aubameyang had also arrived as second fiddle in Dortmund to Robert Lewandowski back in 2013. Only after the Pole’s departure for Bayern Munich did Aubameyang really shine.
Three years earlier Lewandowski joined Dortmund as an understudy to then Dortmund top scorer Lucas Barrios.
It was only after the Paraguay international’s departure that the two-time Bundesliga top scorer Lewandowski carved out a name as one of Europe’s most efficient forwards.
Belgium international Batshuayi has yet to earn any of Lewandowski’s or Aubameyang’s honours, having made 53 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions since joining from Olympique Marseille in July 2016 and scoring 19 goals.
But after failing to convince Chelsea coach Antonio Conte of a regular starting spot, the 24-year-old, who represented his country at Euro 2016, now hopes first-team action will help his chances of featuring more prominently at this year’s World Cup in Russia.
With just two victories from their last 13 league games and none in their last three, Dortmund are desperate for Batshuayi’s goals with Dortmund having dropped to sixth and travelling to bottom side Cologne on Friday.
Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich look unstoppable as they chase a record-extending sixth consecutive Bundesliga crown.
They have opened up as massive 16-point lead at the top and take on lowly Mainz 05 on Saturday, with second-placed Bayer Leverkusen, on 34 points, travelling to Freiburg.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty