It’s surprising that Donyell Malen didn’t score against Bochum yesterday. With six goals in the last six games, the Dutchman suddenly became one of the best strikers after many fans called him a ‘bad buy’ at the start of the season.
The fact that the blacks and the yellows have a soft spot for young and talented strikers is not only known from Erling Haaland, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Jadon Sancho or Paco Alcácer. On the other hand, Dortmund have shown in the past that this is not possible. Key word Alexander Isak, who shoots very short and small in the Premier League (ten goals in 16 games), but has never been able to win at BVB.
But what do you need to cook up a dream striker in black and yellow? First, of course, an incredibly talented young player. As a base (of dough), so to speak. But that alone is not enough. Other ingredients are crucial in shaping it.
Both Isak and Malen have the talent and BVB officials have acknowledged that. However, the paths of the two were very different. While the Swede didn’t have much luck at Dortmund, the Dutchman had several. Isak is now rising like a good bread dough in the Premier League, while the paint gives BVB a new note (flavor). It tastes like the championship.
In 2021, Borussia signed the then 22-year-old for €30m from PSV Eindhoven. They spent around €8.6m in 2017 on the then 17-year-old Isak. Two years and only five professional appearances later, he was loaned out to Willem II Tilburg.
Although he played for the Dutch club and scored regularly, the 1.92m striker was sold to Real Sociedad the following summer. Lucien Favre did not trust him to break into the Bundesliga: « He is still extremely young. He has a lot of talent, that’s for sure. But old age is not easy, there are a lot of ups and downs.
However, the farewell press release also stated: « We wish Alex every success in Spain and will follow his performances closely. » In Spain he continued to score goals and several top clubs noticed him. In the end, Newcastle United redeemed itself for a sum of 70 million euros. The most expensive transfer in club history.
But what ingredients make Isak special? « He can get the ball in his (Site notre bureau spécialisé), run deep and he’s fantastic in the air, » wrote ‘Sky’ pundit Jamie Redknapp in his column. He is also very well trained tactically and cleverly blocks his opponents’ passes, summarizes ’11Freunde’. The nine also plays more for the team than, say, Zlatan Ibrahimović, with whom he was often compared during his time at Dortmund.
As Isak lacked confidence in better performances, Borussia officials stuck with Malen, although things didn’t go well for him at first either. So are black and yellow doing well with him what they did wrong with Isak? At least that’s what it looks like.
Because it not only receives the support of the public, but also has been used again and again since the beginning. ‘Donny’ was mostly in the shadow of Haaland and Reus. But Marco Rose hosted him anyway. « We always said we were convinced of the boy, » the former BVB coach said in December 2021.
Meanwhile, Malen either played in a Dutch-Norwegian duo or came on as a left winger. In the best Robben way, so to speak. After all, he is right-handed.
The offensively strong dribbler is made up of other components than Isak. Sebastian Kehl said the following after the win over Frankfurt: « With his drive, finishing strength and preparation qualities, he is incredibly rewarding for us. » Added to this is his speed which, in combination with Karim Adeyemi, could become a real secret. ingredient in the championship race.
In order to achieve these advantages, one detail had to be changed – namely the position. He plays on the right wing from the Revierderby. It seems to suit him better.
In addition, luck is now on his side. Edin Terzić also noticed this on the PK after the win over Frankfurt: “During the first half of the season he had already improved, but he was always a bit unlucky; he lacked a centimeter or two and a percentage point or two of conviction in the final.
So it shows that you can serve the BVB attackers in very different forms. But it also shows what the secret ingredients of every striker are: confidence and patience. Malen gets him at BVB, Isak found him in the Premier League. Every talented striker succeeds with this. Not just with black and yellow.