Salih Özcan joined Borussia Dortmund last summer from FC Köln and started off brightly, but then saw his form and appearances taper as the season went on.
Borussia Dortmund’s pre-season preparations continue to go on as planned with the club currently on tour in the United States. This has given many players the opportunity to voice some of their thoughts on said preparations, new transfers and how they’ve coped with last season’s final match day. Of these players, Salih Özcan can now add his name to this list.
In a recent interview with Sky Sports, Özcan spoke about Dortmund’s preparations in the USA so far, stating that conditions for said preparations have improved, but weren’t easy initially:
"“The first day and the journey to the USA were already very exhausting. We all had to struggle a bit with jet lag, but have gotten used to it by now. We have perfect conditions here and look forward to the coming days.”"
Jet lag and playing in a completely different time zone will very much throw a player not used to such changes on a regular basis off balance, so it’s no surprise that Özcan and the other players had to adapt. The games and practices are all well and good, but of course we know that trips to the US are also seen as prime opportunities for marketing and media events, something that inevitably also takes a toll on the players.
Özcan also touched upon Dortmund’s final match day and losing out on the Meisterschale after their result against Mainz, and his thoughts pretty much echoed most of what his teammates had already mentioned, but he did highlight that the result took him longer to process:
"“I think it took me a little longer…But then it was necessary to accept everything and continue. We now want to go into the new season with full vigour.”"
From the comments Özcan and his teammates have made, it seems as if the squad is doing their best to take a positive approach to last season’s finale and use it as fuel rather than wallowing. This will be important for many in the squad to internalize should Dortmund wish to compete next season.
The conversation steered towards signings and departures, with Özcan seemingly having quite a positive outlook despite the loss in quality the team has suffered:
"“The two [Jude Bellingam and Raphael Guerreiro] were two great players, but we got new guys who bring a lot of quality. We can be successful again as a team, but we also know that we have to work hard for it.”"
Özcan also commented on Sabitzer’s signing, offering insight into the Austrian’s generally quiet nature but noting that he believes that he can bring a lot to Dortmund for the coming campaign. Özcan is likely right regarding his assessment, as Sabitzer’s addition was a much needed boost the the quality of Dortmund’s midfield. Should he be able to replicate the form he showed while with RB Leipzig, Sabitzer could end up being a mainstay in the middle of the park for BVB.
Next season will be a telling one for Özcan and his teammates, and with much of the conversation revolving around “hard work” and bouncing back from the missed title opportunity with renewed vigor, it will be up to Özcan and his teammates to step up and show that this is truly the case. For Özcan in particular, this season will likely be key in terms of his own Dortmund future.
"“Last season I came into the season with an injury and had long-term problems. I fought my way in well afterwards and then pushed my own goals and my ego aside because we wanted to do everything for the championship. I’m trying to keep working on myself and go full throttle.”"
Cementing himself as a strong option for the team will be important, and it seems like he’s up to the task. Many were excited when Özcan’s signing was announced a year ago, and I certainly hope he can bring back the level of play that made him such a seemingly underrated signing last summer.