Their game on Saturday against Cologne in Signal Iduna Park was the bounce back performance Borussia Dortmund needed, and Raphael Guerreiro was at the center of it.
The Portuguese left-back, playing his second straight match in midfield, helped the home team get off to a flying start, scoring the opener in the 15th minute before setting up Sebastien Haller for a second two minutes later. Another assist to Marco Reus helped put Dortmund well in control a half an hour in, which ended as an impressive and efficient 6-1 drubbing.
It was Guerreiro’s second straight game with multiple goal contributions after his goal and assist in the Ruhrderby against Schalke. Including his effort in Cologne, he has three goals and 9 assists in the Bundesliga this term.
With his contract up at the end of the season, the 29-year-old is making a strong case that he is a player Borussia Dortmund should keep around.
Since joining from French side Lorient in 2016, Guerreiro has provided quailty both in defense and midfield. Though recruited as a left-back, the position he played for Portugal when they won Euro 2016, he was used almost immediately in midfield as then coach Thomas Tuchel tried to find a place for him and senior defender Marcel Schmelzer in the same side.
Guerreiro has mostly featured on the left for Dortmund since, either in defense or in midfield. But Dortmudn head coach Edin Terzic has called upon the Portuguese international’s central midfield prowess as a way to kick his side back into gear.
Dortmund’s midfield, Jude Bellingham especially, was a key talking point after Dortmund’s loss to Chelsea in the Champions League. The injury to Salih Özcan, a reliable holding midfielder in Terzic’s new buildup scheme, necessitated a new setup in the center of the park.
Enter Guerreiro, who has immediately brought pace, progression and ball-carrying ability that compliments Bellingham’s talents. Guerreiro’s five goal contributions in Dortmund’s last two matches is evidence that Terzic’s latest tweak is working.
Only one question remains: is this added versatility enough to convince Dortmund to keep Guerreiro around?
Dortmund are certainly focused on the present as they attempt to finally unseat Bayern Munich as Bundesliga champions — the two clubs play on April 1 after the upcoming international break. But major decisions loom for sporting director Sebastian Kehl, with Guerreiro, Mats Hummels, Mahmoud Dahoud and Marco Reus all out of contract at the end of the season.
For a club that has seen constant squad turnover in recent years, especially when it comes to young talents like Jadon Sancho, Christian Pulisic and Erling Haaland, players like Guerreiro have become a rarity. When he moved to Dortmund as a 22-year-old, one could have easily assumed that the German club would be a stepping stone to something bigger. Instead, he’s become one of the club’s senior players, with Reus being the only longer-tenured player than him.
According to reports earlier in the season, Guerreiro has expressed his desire to stay, citing how content his family is in Dortmund. The feeling may not be mutual, however, with Dortmund reportedly concerned with Guerreiro’s fitness record — he has missed 21 games for Dortmund over the last two seasons with various muscular issues.
The club’s reported interest in Borussia Mönchengladbach left-back Ramy Bensebaini adds another wrinkle to Guerreiro’s case. Should Bensebaini complete a move to the Ruhr valley, many predict that Guerreiro’s exit from the club would follow soon after.
But Guerreiro’s ability to play in midfield, especially at the level he has the last two games, should be a convincing prospect for the club. The departure of Bellingham, a 19-year-old budding superstar, is inevitable, and having someone of Guerreiro’s skillset around could help Terzic’s side cope with the loss.
Perhaps more importantly, the Portuguese veteran seems to clearly identify with Dortmund, not just the club but also the city. For a club that will likely continue to be a talent factory, there is value in keeping a senior player who knows what the club stands for.
Guerreiro’s recent form is coming at a good time for Dortmund with a though test against Bayern on the horizon, but he’s also proving to be a player that Dortmund should strongly consider keeping around long-term.