Borussia Dortmund’s decision to sign Paco Alcacer permanently from Barcelona on Black Friday
will come as no surprise to anyone who has watched BVB so far this season, their free-flowing attacking football proving effective and entertaining in equal measure in taking them top of the table.
Yet what prompted the club’s officials to exercise the option to make Paco Alcacer‘s loan deal permanent with not even a third of the season gone? bundesliga.com takes a closer look…
Yes, yawn. This is stating the glaringly obvious, but it still has to be mentioned. Strikers are there to
score and Alcacer is very good at his job. After finding the net just five minutes into his Bundesliga
debut against Eintracht Frankfurt on Match day 3, the 25-year-old has not stopped.
His match-winning strike to decide the Klassiker against Bayern Munich on Match day 11 was his
eighth of a campaign in which he has played just 218 minutes of Bundesliga football, giving him a
strike rate of a goal every 29 minutes; A record for any Bundesliga player at this stage of their career.
His relative lack of playing time should not be mistaken for a lack of faith from his coach Lucien
Favre; it is more a case of building him back up to full fitness after a couple of seasons on the
fringes at Barcelona. “You can’t forget that he almost didn’t play for two years,” Favre said recently. “It’ll take time.”
When you consider that a league-high seven of his goals have come after starting as a substitute
and that he has also scored more times than anyone else in the second half (seven) and in the final
quarter (five) of matches, it becomes clear just how gifted Paco Alcacer is. If this is the forward finding his feet once again, what will he be like once he truly hits his stride?
More than just a scorer
Standing at just 5’10 (1.75m), Alcacer is considerably shorter than his predecessors in yellow and black, with Michy Batshuayi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Robert Lewandowski all over 6’1″.
As such, he is not a traditional target man up front, and the fact he has won just 14 percent of his aerial duels is testament to that.
Yet what he lacks in stature he more than makes up for in game intelligence, slinking between the lines with genius runs to create gaps in opposition defences. “His movement is very interesting,
very clever and the openings he works to enable a quick pass, he does that really well,” said Favre of his No.9. “He has quality, can link up with the team and make runs in behind.”
Paco Alcacer himself agrees: “I guess those are particular strengths of mine: getting in behind the defence to the near post and working the ball with my back to goal.” As the leading scorers in the league this term with 33, it is safe to say brain over brawn is working out nicely for BVB.
Older head in a young squad
Dortmund have rightly won plaudits for giving youngsters a chance to shine and have become the go-to destination in Europe for talented hopefuls eager to make an impact at senior level.
Christian Pulisic, Jadon Sancho, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Achraf Hakimi have
all been first-team regulars this season, with Pulisic the oldest of that bunch having just turned 20 in September.
And while there is much to be said for that quintet’s exuberance and fearlessness, there is no
substitute for experience. At 25, Alcacer is coming into his prime and joins Marco Reus (29), Axel Witsel (29) and Roman Bürki (28) as one of the team’s elder statesmen.
Reus himself has been an influential figure for Alcacer since his arrival at Dortmund. “Marco’s
helped me a lot with settling in, both on and off the pitch,” said the Spain international. “He’s a big
part of the reason I feel so good here. He’s a world-class leader. I appreciate him a lot. Playing with him is very easy.”
In a team searching for silverware in three competitions this season, having another wise head –
and one who won La Liga and two Copa del Rey titles during his time at Barcelona and finished as Spain’s top scorer in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying – to guide a young squad could prove invaluable.
A good fit at the club
A high-profile transfer does not automatically equate to a successful one and a variety of factors,
including language, culture, climate, playing style, as well as relationships with team-mates and coach, can affect whether or nor a new signing settles at a club.
With that in mind, having an initial ‘try-before-you-buy’ loan spell with Alcacer looks to have been a stroke of genius in hindsight. It gave both parties time and space to adapt to each other without the
added pressure that comes with a permanent deal – especially as BVB have not had an out-and-out striker of their own following Aubameyang’s departure in January.
And evidently, it has worked out. “Paco is wholeheartedly with us, he has quickly integrated and
has become and integral part of our squad,” said Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc after
confirming Paco Alcacer’s transfer. “He’s a real scorer of high footballing quality, and has already decided some important games for us. We look forward to many more goals and assists from him in the coming years.”
Paco Alcacer recently described the club’s fans as “incredible” following the victory over Bayern, is equally delighted to be staying: “I’m very happy in Dortmund, at BVB and in this wonderful team.
Borussia Dortmund was and is exactly the right decision for me. I’ll do everything I can to say thank you for your trust.”