He was not the only one. In addition to Dembélé, a host of bright young things — the Turkish wing Emre Mor, 19; the Spanish midfielder Mikel Merino, 20; the versatile Portuguese Raphaël Guerreiro, 22 — would arrive at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park, along with a contingent of more experienced faces like the German internationals André Schürrle and Mario Götze.
One by one, each arrival eased the sting of what could have been a dispiriting summer for Dortmund, Germany’s second superpower. Bayern Munich, as it seems to do every year, had plucked one of Dortmund’s crown jewels, the captain Mats Hummels, and the core midfielders Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan soon followed him out the door, bound for the Premier League.
“We gave long consideration on how to replace the players we lost,” Michael Zorc, Dortmund’s technical director, said. “We decided to go with a two-column model: very young, highly skilled players, but also established, internationally experienced ones.”
The result is, arguably, the most gifted collection of young players anywhere in Europe, crafted into a team of rich spirit and endless…