Borussia Dortmund faced FC Köln this past weekend in the Bundersliga and went on to pick up their second straight victory since the end of the winter break. They even managed to score one more goal than in their encounter with SV Darmstadt, with the 4-0 win bringing them to seven goals for and zero against since the season's restart.
Among the players doing well to give Dortmund a boost is Chelsea loanee Ian Maatsen. The young Dutchman managed to start on his tally of assists for the season, providing his compatriot Donyell Malen with a sumptuous long ball that allowed for Malen to break away and score for his side.
Many are hopeful that Maatsen's assist is a sign of things to come as Borussia Dortmund have sorely missed any attacking impetus from the full back positions this season. Barring Julian Ryerson's admirable efforts, Dortmund's other options in the position(s) haven't been able to make up for the loss of Raphael Guerreiro after the Portuguese international joined Bayern in the summer.
Maatsen offers a breath of fresh air in the position not only because of his attacking impetus, but also because the attacking portion of his game doesn't take away from his ability to also chip in and undertake the primary duty of his position, which is to defend. The player still has some mistakes in him, as exhibited in the game against Köln, but this is redeemed by the fact that the player actually tries to rectify them.
In his predecessor, Guerreiro, Dortmund had an immensely important attacking and creative threat, but the defensive portion of his game lacked refinement. He would often be one of the first players to slouch or give up on pursuit when he was beaten by an attacker. In Maatsen, Dortmund have a player who could really grow into the type of modern full back that balances both aspects of his responsibilities out perfectly.
As of now, its far too early to make any concrete or detailed comparisons between Rapha and Maatsen primarily based on the fact that they are in completely different stages of their careers, and Maatsen has had limited game-time at Borussia Dortmund when compared to the body of work the Portugese international has to present from his time with Die Schwarzgewlben. That being said, his perfromances, if they continue in the same vein, will lend themselves to the argument that the club should try to keep the player long term. Maatsen, per a recent interview, seems open to such a turn of events:
"I'm leaving all my options open. I would love to come back [to Dortmund]. Why not? We'll see what the future brings."- Ian Maatsen
With the player seemingly open to the idea, and Dortmund having first refusal when it comes to his sale in the summer, it may be a shrewed move for the club to try and make the deal permanent. The fees for quality players will not fall but continue to rise, and with this reality in mind, should Maatsen's performances continue to develop in a promising manner, Chelsea's asking price may seem to look more logical in the long run.