'A win-win situation': The expert view on Soumaila Coulibaly - the Dortmund defender linked with Burnley switch
and live on Freeview channel 276
Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano is reporting the 19-year-old is undergoing a medical today, after the two clubs agreed on a season-long loan deal with an obligation to buy for €15m, albeit this is likely to be based on appearances.
Dortmund signed the defender on a free transfer from French side Paris Saint-Germain in 2021.
He’s since made two substitute appearances for the first-team and made a further 25 outings for the club’s second side.
Coulibaly came off the bench to face Copenhagen in the Champions League in November before getting 45 minutes under his belt against Stuttgart in April, replacing experienced defender Mats Hummels.
But what sort of player is Coulibaly? And why hasn’t he featured more prominently in Germany?
We spoke to Ben McFadyean, an expert in German football, to get the lowdown on Burnley’s prospective new signing.
What can Burnley fans expect from him?
“If Burnley do end up signing him, they’d be getting a very good defender who has an extremely solid left foot but can also play at right-back as well.
“He’s got a lot of potential, he’s physically strong, pacy, extremely good with his head and was a solid part of Dortmund’s second team.
“He’s a good character who’s just not been given a chance, mostly because they haven’t really needed him in the first-team.
“I would see it as an absolute win-win situation, for him personally but also the club to test him out and see if he can make any impact.”
Do you think this is a good move for Coulibaly?
“My impression is this is a big chance for him.
“Dortmund brought in Nico Schlotterbeck and Niklas Süle last season and the two of them have essentially monopolised the positions (in defence), alongside Mats Hummels.
“At other times, it’s been Emre Can and Thomas Meunier, the Belgian international, so basically they’ve shut Coulibaly out and he’s not really had much of a chance to take part in the first-team.
“He’s trained with the first-team, but he’s not really had much of a chance to play many games.
“He’s left-footed, so he should slot in well to the position Taylor Harwood-Bellis had last season.
“He’s got this really great chance to slot in the defence and for the rest of us to see what he’s made of.
“He was very highly-rated when he first came over from PSG. We looked at him as a player in the mould of Dayot Upamecano, who at the time was at RB Leipzig before moving on to Bayern Munich. Dayot is a real force to be reckoned with, a really top defender.
“Coulibaly, working with Vincent Kompany, should be a match made in heaven. They’re both French speakers, Kompany will have been watching him for some time going back to his time at PSG and then at Dortmund.
“In terms of qualities, he’s got pace, he’s got aerial ability, he’s also a powerful guy although Dortmund were complaining he needed to bulk up a bit in terms of his frame.”
What do you make of the €15m valuation?
“Fabrizio Romano reported that Burnley are looking at a loan with a €15m buyout clause, which to me seems a bit on the high side given he came on a free from PSG.
“The local media in Dortmund are saying he’s forcing the move, he’s basically pushing to let him go.
“In my opinion, he’s not had much of a chance so surely it’s mutually convenient. If Dortmund came away with £15m, I think they’d be incredibly happy.
“Whenever a German club hears a Premier League side is interested, they always hike the price up. The English clubs usually pay it too!
“A club like Dortmund will often buy the player back for half of what they sold him for, or even less. It’s happened before with Nuri Sahin and Emre Can.
“It’s definitely an opportunity. Every player in Germany wants to play in the Premier League, almost without exception.
“Kompany is a coach that is well known in Germany from his time at Schalke and he’s very highly regarded. So it’s a win-win situation all round.
“Coulibaly has had plenty of game time for Dortmund’s second side, he’s just not had much of a look in with the first team and when he did, it didn’t go very well.
“I’m not knocking him or saying he hasn’t got a lot of potential, he’s just a bit of an unknown quantity.”
What sort of person is he?
“I did get the chance to meet Coulibaly and his brothers up at Hibernian when Dortmund played in the quarter-final of the UEFA Youth League.
“I got the chance to ask how his career is going and how he saw himself progressing and so on.
“At the time I believe he had issues with his knee and his pelvis, but both of those injuries were very short-term.
“He came across as a good lad though. The one thing that was instantly noticeable was how tall he was, he’s about 6ft 2ins.
“He played 25 games in the Under-23s, who had a reasonably poor season because they’ve been fighting relegation most of the season.
“The previous season was somewhat better, but in my opinion he would be a staple player. He played almost all of the third tier games for Dortmund’s second side, who are in an incredibly competitive league, playing against big names like Kaiserslautern, Duisburg and 1860 Munich.
“On a personal note he came across well, he seemed like a friendly guy. He has a nice family, they seem like a nice bunch of people.”
Ben McFadyean is also a PhD researcher at the University of East Anglia and is the founder of the London-based Dortmund Fan Club, which can be found here.