It came out of the blue, but World Cup-winning centre-back Mats Hummels has returned to Borussia Dortmund following a trophy-laden three-year spell at Bayern Munich.
Upon the news of Hummels’ return, talkSPORT described the move as ’emotional’ (which is putting it mildly, to say the least, although probably not for the reasons they intended), while elsewhere it was being talked up as another signal of Dortmund’s intent to win the title next season.
Heck, even the Bundesliga’s official website has a piece on why Hummels re-joining Borussia Dortmund ‘is the signing of the summer’ – and if they end up with the Meisterschale in 12 months, he certainly could be.
But unlike Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze making the very same move around the same time, Hummels’ decision to leave Borussia Dortmund hit fans back at the Westfalenstadion much harder.
Now it’s not like he joined bitter rivals Schalke 04 – that really would have been a cardinal sin, whereas their rivalry with Bayern Munich is much more media driven – but his decision to leave back in 2016 was just the tip of the iceberg.
More importantly, after winning almost everything there was to win in Black and Yellow, Hummels ditched the captain’s armband.
He was a product of a Bavarian youth system, that much is true. But Hummels was made in North Rhine-Westphalia, and he burned a lot of bridges when he returned to Bayern Munich in 2016.
But the worst thing Hummels can do now is follow in Götze’s footsteps by grovelling for forgiveness after deciding to make a U-turn in his career.
“When I changed from BVB to FC Bayern Munich in 2013, this was a conscious decision behind which I don’t want to hide today,” Götze wrote.
“Now, three years later and with now 24 years, I look at my then decision with other eyes. I can, therefore, understand well that you could not relate to my decision.”
Götze pussyfooted around it, because he – along with the handful of players to make the exact same move – didn’t want to admit that he’d moved to Bayern Munich for one thing and one thing only – to win trophies.
But for Hummels to follow Götze’s lead by winning back Borussia Dortmund hearts, he has to own the reasoning behind his move to Bayern Munich in the first place, be committed to his new decision, and most importantly he can’t be pulling any sh*t on social media, although that ship might have already sailed.
From a sporting perspective at least, the decision to re-sign Hummels really could be the difference for Dortmund as they look to go just that one step further during the 2019/20 campaign.
Although Manuel Akanji, Abdou Diallo and Dan-Axel Zagadou are all very talented players in their own right, they’re lacking the experience and know-how which is the bedrock of any successful, title-winning team.
It isn’t going to be mission impossible for Hummels to reassert himself as one the club’s most iconic players, unless perhaps he goes down the awful social media grovelling route, but the former Germany international will at least be given that chance to prove his worth on the pitch so that he can truly earn his place back at Borussia Dortmund.