Opinion: Borussia Dortmund should target Mainz winger Brajan Gruda this summer

As part of their rebuild, Borussia Dortmund should consider the signing of Brajan Gruda for the 2024/25 season
1. FSV Mainz 05 v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga
1. FSV Mainz 05 v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga / Christian Kaspar-Bartke/GettyImages
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Borussia Dortmund’s loss to Mainz over the weekend was very much a sobering result for the club as it heads towards the end of the Bundesliga season. It should be viewed as a moment of reflection for the club as they prepare for their summer rebuild from an internal standpoint.

From an external standpoint, the result should have brought the club’s attention to a specific player on the opposition side who could be an interesting fit for the club long term. That player is Brajan Gruda. Gruda has been talked about at length by those who follow the Bundesliga as one of the cornerstones in a very much beleaguered Mainz side that, even despite their defeat of Dortmund on the weekend, are dancing dangerously close to the fire in terms of relegation playoff spot currently occupied by Union Berlin. Throughout the match, Gruda was a very strong outlet for Mainz, driving into Dortmund’s defensive third with zeal and tenacity.

In his performance against Dortmund, Gruda showed much of what the club would want in terms of a young, inspiring attacker. Gruda, while neither scoring nor assisting, was one of the focal points of Mainz’s attack and was involved either on the ball or off of it for two of Mainz’s goals. His positioning in the box allowed him to take up space and made him very much a thought in the minds of defenders, allowing his teammates to get in and score on their own.

In the game against Dortmund alone, Gruda showed impressive physicality for a winger, often going toe to toe with Dortmund’s Nico Schlotterbeck and consistently making a nuisance of himself on the flank. In 86 minutes on the pitch, Gruda put in a solid shift with 2 tackles, 4 progressive carries, and 6/10 successful take-ons.

Over the course of the last year, Gruda has been impeccable in terms of shot-creating actions (5.67), progressive carries (5.50) and successful take-ons (3.82) per 90 minutes on the pitch when compared to players of a similar ilk in Europe's top five leagues. His attacking output has yielded 3 goals and 2 assists for Mainz this season, which while at face value might not seem like much is actually quite impressive when one considers that Mainz is struggling as much as they are and that Gruda is 4th in terms of goals scored for his side. It’s very likely that should the player join a better team, his production would also increase substantially as he would have more capable players in his vicinity to finish the chances he creates.

Another interesting tidbit to note is that Gruda is also very proficient in aerial duels for a winger, with the player being in the 80th percentile for aerials won with 1.68 per 90. It never hurts to have another player on the pitch who works hard defensively, even if they are predominately an attacker at heart.