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?
Excelsior Rotterdam v AFC Ajax - Dutch Eredivisie
Excelsior Rotterdam v AFC Ajax - Dutch Eredivisie / BSR Agency/GettyImages
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Pellegrino Matarazzo, Sven Mislintat
VfB Stuttgart v 1. FC Köln - Bundesliga / Matthias Hangst/GettyImages

VFB Stuttgart: Mislintat’s Bundesliga Renaissance

Mislintat’s adventures brought his “diamond eyes” back to his native homeland when he joined VFB Stuttgart in 2019 as the club’s Sporting Director. The club, which has reached the upper echelons of German football on more than one occasion (5 German titles), found itself in the 2. Bundesliga. It proved to be a challenge that Mislintat would take head on, as he helped put together a squad that won promotion in his first full year at the club. According to Mislintat himself, he always saw great potential in the Stuttgart side he helped oversee and build:

"I was convinced that we had the quality to be successful, and survive any relegation battle. It was obvious that we had quality…we could have won more points [that season] but that owed to our youth and part of our development."

Sven Mislintat (The Athletic)

Mislintat’s time at Stuttgart highlighted just how much he trusts youth in the development of a complete side. The average age of the Stuttgart team he helped build was 23.7 years old, an ode to his days with Dortmund, and likely one of the reasons as to why the Ruhr club will be happy to have him back. 

At Stuttgart, Mislintat brought Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos with him, a player who he’d discovered at Arsenal, on loan, as well as signed the likes of Nicolas Gonzalez, Saša Kalajdžić and Silas Mvumpa, all which lay the foundations, both competitively and economically for where Stuttgart are today. Kalajdžić (18 million), Mavropanos (20 million), and Gonzalez (24.5 million) were all sold for substantial profits after being brought in for far smaller, more nominal fees, which in many ways helped Stuttgart develop and build the squad they have today - something that Mislintat had already done in Dortmund, which allowed the team to grow in profile and strength. Mislintat acknowledged this, particularly in the context of money lost during the Covid-19 pandemic:

"…we need to grow at a pace that is sustainable but meets this club’s [Stuttgart’s] tradition. Our realistic pathway is to improve step by step our revenues and our infrastructure while staying very hungry for individual and team development…due to the Covid-19 crisis, we have lost more than 30 million euro in revenue, of course [selling players] is one way to generate revenue."

Sven Mislintat (The Athletic)

Mislintat followed this up by saying that while at Stuttgart, just as with any team, the main goal is to succeed and build a team that will lead to that success. Alongside the names already mentioned, notable additions to Stuttgart under Mislintat’s ever-watchful eyes include Gregor Kobel and Wataru Endo, the former of whose performances speak for themselves, with the latter playing a very important role in Liverpool’s midfield since joining them. These signings further underline Mislintat’s credentials in terms of being able to find exemplary talents for the clubs he joins, and further underscores his time at Stuttgart as a general success.

In a more recent episode of Dortmund Dispatch, we spoke to Stuttgart Americana's Ted Leugers about his thoughts on Mislintat’s time at the club. His thoughts were overall very positive and he remembered Mislintat’s time with the club very fondly: 

"We look back pretty fondly on him...comparing it to Dortmund, the financial states of the clubs are just so different. It’s hard to take as harsh of an assessment on him with Stuttgart because with the guys that flopped…his mistakes at Stuttgart are 1 million euro mistakes or 500,000 euro mistakes, and then he took a lot of swings that panned out. Seven of our regular starting eleven when Daxo [Dan-Axel Zagadou] is healthy are Sven guys, and some of them, Daxo included, Serhou Guirassy, he picked up for bargain prices."

Ted Leugers (Dortmund Dispatch)

Ted also highlighted Mislintat’s propensity to search for players in more obscure and lesser known leagues to find players that would become immense talents as, once again, one of the main strengths he believes Stuttgart benefitted from massively. 

Mislintat’s journey with Stuttgart came to an end after the Swabian’s failed to agree a contract extension with their former Sporting Director beyond 2023. Mislintat would move to Ajax, where he would plunge himself and the club into controversy and turmoil.