Donyell Malen has made a slow start to life at Borussia Dortmund
Donyell Malen has made a slow start to life at Borussia Dortmund

Jadon Sancho’s move to Manchester United has not gone to plan so far — and his replacement at Borussia Dortmund is also not having the best of times. 

Donyell Malen was a £27million arrival from PSV Eindhoven to fill the void left by the England winger during the summer. 

But like Sancho, he has yet to score in the league this season and has managed just one goal in the Champions League.

Ahead of his side’s match against Ajax tonight, we turn the spotlight on the Dutchman’s tough start to life at BVB.

A slow start

Malen, 22, scored and assisted for fun at PSV but things have not come quite as easily at his new club.

After netting 27 times last season, tucking home the winner in a 1-0 victory over Sporting in the Champions League is all he has to show for himself in the goalscoring department this campaign.

And following an ineffective display in a 1-0 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach, Bundesliga legend Lothar Matthaus urged Malen to make more of an impact.

Matthaus told Sky Germany: "I think you can expect a bit more from Malen.

Donyell Malen has struggled for consistency during his first season with Borussia Dortmund
Donyell Malen has struggled for consistency during his first season with Borussia Dortmund

"I've been disappointed with him so far. In Gladbach, he barely skipped past an opponent and didn't put his mark on the game offensively."

Since then, he has added a further two assists in all competitions but overall he will be disappointed with his output since arriving in Germany.

Big shoes to fill

Accounting for Sancho’s departure was one of the biggest tasks Dortmund faced — the now United man accounted for 50 goals and 64 assists during his time at the Westfalenstadion. 

Pipping Liverpool to his capture, Malen was the man backed to make up for the loss of the English star after dazzling in the Eredivisie.

His impressive goalscoring record plus eight assists in all competitions — which also resulted in a call-up from the Netherlands for Euro 2020 — left no reason to dispute those expectations.

Donyell Malen was a star player for PSV Eindhoven last term
Donyell Malen was a star player for PSV Eindhoven last term

Prior to landing their man, boss Marco Rose outlined exactly what he was looking for from Sancho’s replacement.

Rose said: "If you lose a player like Jadon, you have to look for a winger with pace who can take players on. That’s certainly a position where we are looking to do something."

A change of role

The problem is Malen rarely featured as a left winger during his time at PSV.

In fact, he was deployed as a striker in all 45 games last season, producing 27 goals in that position en route to becoming his former side's undisputed star man.

Such is Dortmund’s plethora of options in attack, Malen has had to play more of a supporting role alongside star man Erling Haaland, while he has also featured heavily in Sancho’s old position on the left flank.

It is far from an untried position for him given he featured there several times for the national team and in previous seasons — but Malen has had to adjust to what his new manager wants from him.

And as far as his boss is concerned, Malen is on the right track to make a success of things in yellow and black.

Donyell Malen has been forced to predominantly take up positions on the left
Donyell Malen has been forced to predominantly take up positions on the left

Rose said: "Donny is an exceptionally good footballer, he has already shown that to some extent. 

"He had a bit of work to do on his fitness level but he’s getting better every day.

"He’s integrated himself well and has played his part in all of our games so far and he’s also still young. We’re giving him the time he needs but we’re also challenging him and encouraging him."

Preparing for the future

Dortmund have been criticised for relying too much on Haaland this term.

The 21-year-old star has scored 13 of Dortmund’s 34 goals — nearest challenger Thorgan Hazard sits on just four strikes.

With the in-demand striker ruled out until December with a hip injury, his absence has likely offered the Germans an early glimpse of the future.

The Norwegian is tipped to leave Dortmund next summer as some of Europe’s top clubs chase his signature.

With Marco Reus also approaching the twilight of his career, preparing for life without the pair is fast becoming a reality.

But Malen is just one of several exciting youngsters in their ranks, meaning Rose is not short of players capable of taking on the mantle.

Stepping up in Haaland’s absence is the perfect chance for the Dutchman to convince everyone he is the next Dortmund star in waiting. 

Tags

Borussia Dortmund1. BundesligaChampions LeagueEredivisie

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