Is Borussia Dortmund targeting the proper profile of defensive midfielder in Jerdy Schouten?

Borussia Dortmund are allegedly looking to target PSV Eindhoven’s Jerdy Schouten, but is he the proper player for Dortmund to sign?

PSV Eindhoven v FC Twente - Dutch Eredivisie
PSV Eindhoven v FC Twente - Dutch Eredivisie / BSR Agency/GettyImages
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With eight games left in the Bundesliga season, we are drawing ever closer to a much anticipated summer of change for Borussia Dortmund. The club, as has been been noted on numerous occasions now, are set to conduct an in depth rebuild of the squad due to quite a few possible departures due to transfers, as well as contracts expiring. 

One of the areas the club seems to be intent on focusing on, per reports, is the midfield. Dortmund’s current charges in the center of the park, namely Emre Can, Salih Özcan, Felix Nmecha and Marcel Sabitzer have had a mixed bag in terms of performances, with Dortmund’s two defensive midfielders (Can and Özcan) significantly underperforming in their more defensive roles. 

To remedy this, Dortmund are allegedly looking to target PSV Eindhoven’s Jerdy Schouten as a possible reinforcement. Schouten (27) joined PSV last season from Serie A side Bologna for around 12 million euros. Since then, through strong performances in the Netherlands, his market value has shot up to around 24 million euros. 

Schouten has been a mainstay in PSV’s midfield since joining, playing 22 Eredivisie and 7 Champions League games for his side, with his final performance in the Champions League coming in against Borussia Dortmund. In terms of the numbers, Schouten currently has 2 goals to his name in the Eredivisie. He excels in terms of attempted passes per 90 (64.1) and pass completion which sits at 89.4%, putting him right up in the 95th percentile when compared to similar players across the top 14 men’s competitions. 

On the defensive end of things, Schouten also excels in terms of his interceptions (1.73) and aerial duels won (1.78 per 90), but seems to struggle in terms of his blocks (0.94) and clearances (0.99) per 90  which put him in the 23rd and 33rd percentile for both respective categories. 

Taking a look at Schouten’s play style, he has been described as “metronomic”, with the Dutchman being very good in terms of distributing the ball, passing accurately, and holding possession when needed. He also has a high work rate and normally is able to put in the defensive work that his position requires, however there could be a few reservations about his defensive ability, especially when taking account those aforementioned numbers regarding blocks and clearances.  

The question then is, based on what we know, would Schouten be an upgrade on the likes of Emre Can in Dortmund’s midfield? The answer to that question takes some dissection. The first thing we need to mention is temperment. Schouten, overall, is described as cool, calm and collected on the pitch, which would be a nice change of pace as Can can and will often make rash challenges and allow emotions to overtake his game, and this can be a problem when the team needs to remain calm and focused on obtaining a result late in games. In many scenarios we’ve seen Can blow up or pick fights in the final minutes of matches  instead of focusing on securing points for the team he is currently captaining. 

In terms of the numbers, Can's strongest qualities are pointedly his pass completion which sits at 88%, his 2.4 tackles per game, and 1.99 clearances per game. Can's interceptions (1.12), blocks (1.27) and aerial duels won (1.18) per 90 are inferior to Schouten's, but his blocks (1.27) and clearances (1.99) per 90 are superior.

Taking everything into account, the comparison between Can and Schouten points to the fact that they aren’t exactly the same profile of player, and therefore one wouldn’t necessarily act as a replacement for another. We don’t have to look very far to locate a player that is a bit more well rounded than Schouten and has a similar market value for Dortmund to take a look at instead. That player is Feyenoord’s Mats Wieffer.