Hummels, Gundogan staying put in Dortmund

Dortmund fans waiting outside Fullerton Hotel yesterday were rewarded when players like Gundogan (centre) and captain Hummels stopped to sign autographs for them.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

In 2013, it was playmaker Mario Goetze who jumped ship from Borussia Dortmund. A year later, striker Robert Lewandowski followed him to Bayern Munich.

The duo were then followed by charismatic head coach Juergen Klopp, who stepped down this summer. For a while, it looked inevitable that more big names would head for the club's exit.

However, with three weeks to go before Dortmund play their first competitive fixture, it seems that not all is doom and gloom at the Signal Iduna Park.

While rumours are rife that captain Mats Hummels and star midfielder Ilkay Gundogan will leave, both appear to be staying at the club - at least for another year.

Speaking at a press conference at the Fullerton Hotel, organised as part of Dortmund's pre-season Asia Tour, Hummels - who joined Dortmund in 2008 - said: "There've always been rumours the last year about almost every one of our players. I decided not to make a move this year, just like Ilkay did. That's the only thing I can say about that."

Switching the topic to the new season, he added: "I've had some great years until now, and I think we can have a big chance to make it even better next year."

Team-mate Gundogan, who recently extended his contract by a year to 2017, said: "I feel really comfortable here. It's like a home for me. Before my injury (last season), I was on a good way.

"Now, I want to do it next season, (make it) much better than the last.

"I want to reach my old level."

Defender Hummels is linked with a move to Manchester United while Barcelona, AC Milan and Arsenal are reportedly keen on Gundogan.

Hummels, who won the World Cup with Germany last year, said he was flattered to be linked with United, adding: "The important thing is I never say something like I will stay here for five or 10 years.

"It is almost impossible to say 100 per cent what the future will bring."

What is certain though, is that the duo are committed to helping restore Dortmund to the upper echelons of German football next season, after a disappointing 2014-15 Bundesliga campaign.

Last year, the 2011 and 2012 league champions endured a torrid start to the season, losing 10 of their first 17 matches.

They were second from bottom going into the winter break.

An improved second-half of the season saw them finish seventh eventually, as they secured a berth in the second-tier Europa League.

Both Hummels and Gundogan insisted that last season was a one-off, with Hummels pinning it on injuries to key players. The duo had missed much of the start of last season, along with key attacker Marco Reus and midfielder Nuri Sahin.

Said Hummels: "We are two players who were not 100 per cent fit when we started last season.

"Last year, confidence was also a big problem for us, we needed more time to gain it again.

"This is something we don't want to have again. We're working on it every day and we will be better than we played at the end of 2014."

Dortmund will be making Singapore their base ahead of tonight's friendly against Malaysia Super League outfit Johor Darul Takzim at the Larkin Stadium in Johor Baru.

On Tuesday, they had kick-started their Asian tour in Japan when they defeated J-League side Kawasaki Frontale 6-0.

They will complete the tour back in Singapore tomorrow, with their players making public appearances in the afternoon at the Weston Goal 313 outlet at 313@Somerset, the Opel showroom in Ubi and at Nanyang Polytechnic.

Yesterday, Dortmund fans clad in their familiar yellow and black jerseys turned out in droves to welcome the team at Changi Airport.

Others waited at Fullerton Hotel for the players, who obliged by signing autographs for them.

Gundogan stressed that the team will not be taking tonight's match lightly, as it is a chance to impress new coach Thomas Tuchel.

He said: "This is a very important game for us. We have three weeks to do our best in every training and game, to reach our best level.

"Then, at the end, the coach will decide which 11 he will put on."

This article was first published on July 9, 2015.
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