Borussia Dortmund and Sven Mislintat reunited: A cause for joy or concern?

Borussia Dortmund have reunited with former scout Sven Mislintat, with the German taking on the role of Squad Planner. What can Dortmund expect with this reunion, and is it a cause for elation or concern?
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Borussia Dortmund: The Dawn of “Diamond Eye”

To really understand what impact Mislintat will have on Dortmund in the long run, we have to start where his story with Dortmund initially began; during his first stint with the club. Mislintat is a native of the Ruhr region first and foremost, which likely led to him first becoming an analyst for the club and then chief scout for Die Schwarzgelben in 2006. Despite Dortmund just coming out of a financial crisis, appointing Diamond Eye as their chief scout would go on to be one of the best moves the club could possibly make. For Mislintat, it would be the start of a burgeoning career:

"I was lucky to start as the first and only employee of the new scouting department in 2006. The club had only just avoided bankruptcy, they had no real set up in that regard…from being Michael Zorc’s right hand man to the match analyst at the same time, I was involved in topics that went beyond scouting in the classic sense. It was a lot of work but a cool gig. Dortmund was my club and to be involved as somebody who played at the third and fourth league level was great."

Sven Mislintat (The Athletic)

Mislintat quickly made an impact for Dortmund by identifying key talents that would define one of Dortmund’s most successful periods in their history. Mislintat was responsible for finding a certain Robert Lewandowski who, at the time, played for Ekstraklasa side Lech Poznań. We all know the story about a volcano playing a massive role in derailing Lewandowski’s move to Blackburn Rovers, but it was Mislintat’s keen intuition for talent that brought the striker to Dortmund’s attention, and the rest, as we say, is history.

On top of Lewandowski, Mislintat played a direct role in identifying Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Shinji Kagawa, Ousmane Dembele, and a certain Mats Hummels, who along with Kagawa and Lewandowski formed, in part, the core of Dortmund’s extremely successful 2010-11 and 2011-12 Bundesliga title charges. While Mislintat can be singled out for failed transfers like Emre Mor, it’s also important to note that while some players identified during Mislintat’s time in Dortmund weren’t hits at the club, they have since gone on to vindicate Mislintat in terms of their performances elsewhere, showing that they are indeed the talented players he thought they were. Both Mikel Merino and Alexander Isak come to mind in this case, as both have become exemplary players at Real Sociedad and Newcastle United respectively. 

Mislintat’s identification of Isak would unfortunately be the beginning of the end of his cooperation with Dortmund however. According to reports surrounding Isak’s signing, he was never a player that Tuchel had asked for, nor really known about. The player was apparently brought in by Mislintat and then Sporting Director Michael Zorc without consulting Tuchel. This claim was later disputed by Watzke, who stated that Tuchel had indeed been informed:

"In both cases - the sale of Adrian Ramos [moved on to the Chinese Super League, allegedly without Tuchel’s consent] and the commitment of Alexander Isak - our coach Thomas Tuchel was involved. In both cases, Thomas Tuchel did not veto. If he had said no, we wouldn't have done it."

Hans-Joachim Watzke, (GOAL)

This deal compounded on a previously collapsed deal for then Atletico Madrid midfielder Oliver Torres, who was on the cusp of making a move to Dortmund in January of 2016. Mislintat had identified the player and it was Tuchel who would pull the plug on it last minute, which set himself and Mislintat on a collision course:

"We all together had decided to get this player. All the work was done, Oliver fought for his change. But then our coach didn't want him anymore. For me, the point of no return was reached."

Sven Mislintat (GOAL)

It would be this rift that would lead to Tuchel banning Mislintat from entering the training ground without much of a discussion. Strangely enough, the discontent between Tuchel and Mislintat also peaked over the fact that the then chief scout facilitated the return of Mario Götze in July of 2016 instead of the aforementioned Oliver Torres, which once again angered Tuchel, who has clearly shown to be a tough character to work within his own right.

"I probably never would have considered other clubs…the training ground ban, put in place by the club's former coach, influenced my thinking, as did the instructions to keep away from the inner circle, from players, from staff and from many friends with whom I worked closely throughout the years…I had had offers in previous years, but I never previously considered making changes."

Sven Mislintat, (Kicker), via MARCA

With no uncertain amount of tumult, Mislintat joined the North London side to start a new chapter in his story, one that is often regarded as one of his less glorious stints in talent-identification.