Borussia Dortmund have completed the signing of Swiss defender Manuel Akanji from FC Basel.
The 22-year-old has signed a contract to 2022 and is believed to have cost Dortmund in the region of €18 million, plus add-ons. He will wear the number 16 shirt.
Established at heart of Basel defence
Following much speculation the club have completed the move for a player who has established himself in the Swiss Super League after the past few seasons and has earned his first caps for the Switzerland national team in the last few months.
Born to a Swiss mother and Nigerian father, Akanji started his career for second tier side FC Winterthur, making his senior debut for them in early 2014 and going on to make 35 appearances in the Challenger League before being snapped up by Basel in 2015.
Although ruled out for most of 2016 with a cruciate ligament rupture, he has since gone on to establish himself in the Basel side. He made 58 appearances in all competitions for the club, and was a near-ever present in the side leading up to the winter break, including six appearances in the UEFA Champions League, helping the club to earn a place in the knockout rounds.
Dortmund excited about Akanji’s potential
Dortmund’s Sporting Director Michael Zorc said on the club’s website on Monday that “Manuel’s performances put him on the radar of a number of top European clubs,” and that naturally they are “delighted that he’s chosen to join us.” He also cited that Akanji has already shown “he can play at the highest level in Europe”, but also that they “still see him as a defender who has potential for further development.”
Akanji meanwhile said that his discussions with the club had “made me feel comfortable,” meaning that “it was a decision of the heart” to join a club football he has “always enjoyed.” He added that he is “looking forward to my time here and will give my best.”
Dortmund will be hoping he can help to solidify a defence that has often been the weak link so far this season. Akanji could make his debut on Friday night at Hertha BSC. They could have problems further up field though, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being heavily linked to Arsenal since being left out of Dortmund’s side against VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday after missing a team meeting.
Quotes via Borussia Dortmund.