The news of Borussia Dortmund signing Marcel Sabitzer came with very little anticipation, mainly because it was a move that came of absolute nowhere. The Austrian enjoyed a fairly good loan spell at Manchester United last season, despite them opting not to sign him permanently.
In addition to this, the news itself was slightly underwhelming given all the high(er) profile names that were thrown in the hat as a possibility to replace the irreplaceable Jude Bellingham. Rewind back a few years and Sabitzer would have also been in the same hat. But his spell at Bayern Munich left him dwindling into obscurity despite Bundesliga fans fully knowing what the Austrian midfielder is capable of.
Yet overall, Dortmund fans can be massively satisfied with what Sabitzer has brought to the team. Going under the radar and with way less pressure than on Felix Nmecha, Sabitzer has been able to quietly excel with a moderate level of expectation and patience afforded to him.
The numbers aren’t outrageously good in all areas, but they look good compared against similar midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues. He is in the top 86th percentile for shots taken per 90 (1.7) and 75 for shot-creating actions (3.03). Ball progression is key and he has taken on the role of advancing it further up the pitch in the absence of Felix Nmecha. However, there is certainly room for improvement in the defensive part of his game as the numbers don’t look quite as good there.
The added factor of being a relatively cheap signing adds to the sweetness of the Sabitzer deal. It was never going to take just one player to replace Bellingham, but the Austrian has taken elements of that game and has attempted to excel at them.
For the second half of the season, it seems a case of more of the same in a debut season for a demanding and burdenous role.