Without injuries, Marco Reus would have been feted as one of the finest midfield players of his generation, even a potential Ballon d’Or winner.
Unfortunately the gifted 33-year-old has missed out on his share of glory, most notably Germany’s World Cup triumph in 2014.
In terms of talent however, he had it all, an attacking and creative midfielder with an eye for goal. And with Erik ten Hag showing that experience has a key role to play at Manchester United, it’s not a surprise that a move to Old Trafford is one of the possibilities when his contract with Borussia Dortmund runs out this summer.
Borussia Dortmund star Marco Reus has emerged as a viable option for Manchester United
The German international could be used in multiple different ways under Erik ten Hag (above)
While he might not be able to play every week, Reus can provide the leadership already shown this season by Raphael Varane and Casemiro. If Ten Hag wants to give Bruno Fernandes or Christian Eriksen a rest, Reus could step in without a drop in quality.
He’s versatile as a modern forward-thinking player should be, acted a guide to Jadon Sancho in Germany and even has a Marcus Rashford-style social conscience – donating hundred 500,000 euros to small businesses in Dortmund who struggled during the Covid pandemic.
No wonder the player’s representatives Dirk Hebel and Darren Freeman were spotted at Old Trafford during last weekend’s Manchester derby, particularly with Donny van de Beek out with a long-term knee injury, though Reus won’t be short of suitors if he leaves Dortmund after 11 years – Cristiano Ronaldo’s Saudi club Al-Nassr is another, lucrative alternative.
At his best, Reus is brilliant. An attacking and creative force, he has scored 148 goals for Dortmund despite time spent on the treatment table. He has the modern attribute of being able to slot into different positions; No 10, No 8, out wide and even partnered Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front for Dortmund.
Reus formed a close bond with current Man United winger Jadon Sancho out in Germany
Casemiro has added much needed experience to the Manchester United team
‘Incredibly skilful and intelligent,’ said his former Germany manager Joachim Low who was too often deprived of his services.
Reus would have been a certain starter in the Brazil World Cup had he not sprained an ankle in a friendly against Armenia on the eve of the tournament.
He also missed Euro 2016 with a groin issue, made himself unavailable for Euro 2020 and damaged ankle ligaments playing for his club in September to keep him out of Qatar.
In Dortmund, Reus is a hero. Whilst it’s tough to compete against Bayern Munich, he has lifted two German cups, been Bundesliga runner-up six times and reached the 2013 Champions League final under Jurgen Klopp with team-mates including Robert Lewandowski and Ilkay Gundogan.
Reus’s representatives Dirk Hebel (right) and Darren Freeman (left) were spotted at United
The German international missed the Qatar World Cup after damaging his ankle ligaments
Reus claimed 19 goals and 16 assists that season, and was considered pivotal by Klopp. Incidentally, he describes the current Liverpool boss as ‘such an animal’. It’s meant as a compliment because of his power and magnetism.
Post-Klopp, Dortmund have turned into a high-class development club and Reus has been the captain and leader, helping youngsters like Sancho and latterly Jude Bellingham to produce their best. ‘He is our captain and plays and acts like one,’ says coach Marco Rose.
But now Reus is entering the last six months of his contract and a new challenge could be tempting.
The last German great recruited by United didn’t go well with Bastian Schweinsteiger sidelined by Jose Mourinho after initially signing for Louis van Gaal.
Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger had an underwhelming spell with Man United in 2015-2016
But the club are in a better place now with Ten Hag. The structure is there for top-class experienced players to contribute without having to burn out.
Reus might not have the status of other German stars of his generation like Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil but that’s largely because of his misfortune of picking up knocks at the wrong time.
Born in Dortmund, his hometown club initially turned him down doubting he’d be strong enough to make it in the professional game. But after three excellent years with Borussia Monchengladbach, they did a u-turn and bought him back.
That resilience together with his quality make him look like a natural United player. It may not be peak-Reus but he could still add to what ten Hag is building.