Marco Reus has lavished praise on his new Borussia Dortmund team-mate Erling Braut Haaland and is convinced that the club has not had a player like him since Robert Lewandowski.
Dortmund saw off competition from a host of major European clubs to land the young Norway striker, who joined at the start of this month after his €20 million (£17m/$22m) move was confirmed in December.
Haaland emerged as one of Europe’s most sought-after players after starring for Salzburg, scoring 28 goals in 22 matches this season.
Manchester United, Juventus and RB Leipzig were among the clubs who showed an interest in the 19-year-old before BVB secured his signature.
And while Reus says the teenager must be given time to settle in, he is adamant that he has not seen a forward of Haaland’s ilk at the club since Lewandowski left for Bayern Munich in 2014.
“He’s very open-minded and it’s important to get to know everyone first – a training camp like this is ideal,” Reus told Sky Deutschland during Dortmund’s mid-season break in Marbella.
“Now it’s about getting really fit, arriving properly. It will take time, we’ll give it to him. He just gives us another input, another way we can play.
“I don’t think we have had this type of player since Lewy [Lewandowski]. He gives us the opportunity to be more flexible and able to react to different scores.
“It makes us feel good. Now he has to get well and get to know everyone properly – we have to, too. We have to go with him and his strengths, but that will all happen over time.
“Paco Alcacer really boomed at the beginning, then he was injured longer. Then the coach decided differently. “As I said, Haaland gives us many opportunities to play football, but ultimately the coach has to decide who will be used.
“For me and other players, we have new options with Haaland, sometimes long balls. In football, it’s important to be flexible and we have achieved that.
“We have now got a very good striker and with it new options, so we’re well-positioned.”
A common criticism of Dortmund in recent years has been the perceived lack of bite in the team, that they are too nice – but Reus does not agree, insisting having “an absolute b*****d” in the team is not necessary.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said when asked if Dortmund were missing a “dirtbag” player. “We had the discussion last year, too.
“The squad is put together in the way that the responsible persons had imagined it, how the coach imagined it. We have enough quality in the squad.
“We don’t need someone who’s an absolute b*****d. We’ll solve it our way, even if it’s not always right.
“So, we don’t have to worry about it. We’ll have to improve our games, we know that, but we don’t necessarily need a ‘dirtbag’ for that.”