Former Dortmund stars Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Robert Lewandowski
Having previously looked at the potential squads of Sporting CP, Southampton and more, today we turn our attention to Germany and to Borussia Dortmund. The Bundesliga side underwent a renaissance during the early 2010's under Jurgen Klopp, winning consecutive league titles in 2010-11 and 2011-2, the latter of which they made a double by winning the DFB-Pokal, before reaching the Champions League final in 2013-14.
Since then though, the Ruhr-based outfit have lost a number of key players, particularly to divisional rivals Bayern Munich and the ever-increasing financial might of the Premier League. Dortmund have done well to remain competitive, finishing third in the Bundesliga last season, reaching the Champions League quarter-finals and winning the DFB-Pokal.
Yet, that doesn't quite tell the full story, as the club finished a whopping 18 points behind Bayern last season, 10 the season before and 33 the season prior to that. Clearly then, the gap between Bayern and Dortmund is a big one, but it might not be if Die Borussen had been able to hold onto their best players. Here is a Dortmund XI if they had kept their best players:
Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki
It was the choice of two Roman's between the sticks, but at the age of 36, Roman Weidenfeller has lost the number one spot to Swiss international Roman Burki, and it is Burki between the sticks in our team too. The 26-year-old shot stopper joined Dortmund from Freiburg, and has played 82 games in just two seasons for the club.
We have opted for a three at the back, and kicking us off on the right side of that trio is Antonio Rudiger. A centre-back also capable of slotting in at right-back, the role should suit Rudiger perfectly. Aged 24, there is a lot more to come from Rudiger, who Dortmund let go when he was just 18. Now a regular for Serie A side Roma and a full international with Germany, they may be wishing they had him back at the Westfalenstadion.
The men either side of him are up for debate, but one of the first names on this team sheet is Mats Hummels. A rock at the back during his seven years at Dortmund, Hummels actually started his career at Bayern Munich, before heading to the Ruhr and subsequently rejoining the Bavarian giants in 2016. Aged 28, Hummels has won 57 caps for Germany and won the World Cup in 2014.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Robert Lewandowski
It's a tough call between Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Marc Bartra for the last defensive position, but we've opted for the Greek international. Signed by Dortmund from Werder Bremen in 2013, he has made exactly 100 league appearances for Die Borussen. The former AC Milan defender and Serie A winner has won 73 caps for Greece to date, and scored at the 2014 World Cup.
A German international of Turkish descent, Ilkay Gundogan is a classy midfield player who has had his troubles with injuries. When fully fit though, he is an intelligent footballer with an eye for a pass and a willingness to put in the hard yards. Gundogan spent five years at Dortmund before linking up with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City last summer, where injuries prevented him from making more of an impact in his first season at the Etihad.
On the right wing is Marco Reus, one of Dortmund's star men over the last five years and one many expected to leave the club like so many others, but he remains in the Ruhr aged 28. A well-rounded winger with an excellent burst of acceleration, Reus too has had his injury problems in recent seasons, particularly last season.
Mkhitaryan stands beside Bayern's Robert Lewandowski during his time at Dortmund
Most commonly utilised as a right winger in recent times, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is equally capable of playing in an advanced central position, and that is where he is deployed in this XI. Superb in his three seasons at Dortmund, Mkhitaryan led the Bundesliga assist charts in his final season with the club prior to his £27 million move to Manchester United. The Armenian international got little game time at the start of the season at Old Trafford, but proved his worth whenever Jose Mourinho gave him an opportunity, and is likely to be a key man next term.
Playing alongside Henrikh Mikhitaryan in attacking midfield is Mario Gotze, keeping former Manchester United man Shinji Kagawa out the side. Gotze's stock has fallen dramatically in the last two seasons, due in part to injuries and a seeming lack of confidence. He scored the winning goal for Germany at the 2014 World Cup, at a time when he was being heralded as Germany's Messi, but things haven't quite worked out for the attacking midfielder. Aged 25, there's still time for the five-time Bundesliga winner to get back on track.
Ousmane Dembele proved once again what an exciting young player he is in France's 3-2 victory over England this month, scoring the winner. It was his seventh cap in a highly competitive French squad at the age of 20, and he is good money to keep Andre Schurrle and co out of this side. Dembele has searing pace and wonderful technique, and Dortmund could face a real challenge hanging onto the youngster either this summer or next.
Current Dortmund star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Currently being linked with a £63 million move to Liverpool which would see him re-united with Jurgen Klopp, the only doubts about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are his age. That is a lot of money for a 28-year-old whose game is quite dependent on pace. He's certainly showing no signs of slowing down though, having scored 40 goals last season, the best tally of his career, and he is a nailed on starter in this XI ahead of the likes of Ciro Immobile.
Probably the single best player in this team, Robert Lewandowski was prolific at Borussia Dortmund, scoring 103 goals in 187 games, and he has been even more prolific at Bayern Munich, finding the back of the net 110 times in just 147 outings. Painfully for Dortmund, they lost the Polish international on a free transfer to Bayern, and he too has been linked with a move to the Premier League recently.
Which former player do Borussia Dortmund miss the most?