In the summer of 2020, many free agents came on the market to one of the most confusing transfer markets in history. Teams who would usually splurge cash on fees were looking to keep their spending down, minimising the risk of spending money on players who might not be able to play next season. However, one player who was heavily in demand from the start of the summer was Thomas Meunier. The Belgian international full-back was previously with Paris Saint-Germain, having served them with distinction since 2016.
With his four-year contract up, though, the 29-year-old decided to move on from Paris and found a new home in Germany. Borussia Dortmund, who were looking for an aggressive full-back to cover the hole left by Achraf Hakimi, reached out to the 43-cap Belgian. Within a short period of time, he was a BVB player and has already taken part in 8 games for his new side. He’s been a good addition to the Dortmund side, but does he add enough to give fans confidence that he can fill the hole left by ‘Roadrunner’ himself in Hakimi?
How has Thomas Meunier done in Dortmund?
While he’s a good enough edition for the squad, many fans are concerned already about the problems in his game. PSG fans warned of a player who got forward and was happy to overlap, but was a mediocre crosser of the ball. He was also seen as a player who, despite getting from box to box, had a tendency to get caught out on and off the ball.
Positioning for a 29-year-old can be a worry, though his physical strength and natural pace helped to solve that problem. For Dortmund, though, they are arguably a more open side than Paris and face a more direct threat from game to game. As such, Meunier is having to show more defensive qualities – which is where the concern has always been. For Dortmund fans, this is probably the biggest concern so far.
Meunier has looked poor defensively, and his passing has also been wayward. At Paris, he was liked by his teammates as his passing was crisp and he could easily pick out forward players with smart passes in behind the defence. Dortmund, though, perhaps lack the same territorial control and as such he has yet to really contribute from an attacking sense either.
His crossing has been erratic, and many of his passes are often underhit or overhit. Still, it would be fair to say that his athleticism and his ability to keep moving on the flank does offer Dortmund some of the qualities of Hakimi. And given the Moroccan went for a sum in excess of €40m this summer, while Meunier was a free transfer, it would be unfair to expect the Belgian to match his predecessor in every way.
At the moment, he looks to offer Dortmund an athletic, stable option on the wing that, in time, could prove very useful. Is it enough, though? Is Meunier enough to help BVB turn the tide and hunt down FC Bayern?