DORTMUND, Germany — Seismographs in Dortmund may have recorded a minor quiver around 5:20 p.m. local time on Friday afternoon, as BVB announced the contract extension of their biggest icon. Marco Reus put pen to paper and extended a deal until 2023 that was to expire after next season.
In many ways, the decision of the 28-year-old to sign what most likely is the last big contract of his career is a throwback in an era where the business of football is growing more and more cynical as club identities and moral values mean little in comparison to a big payday.
Dortmund were caught in the midst of that cold reality of the market last August when Ousmane Dembele decided 12 months was long enough of a stay at the Westfalenstadion and deliberately stayed away from team training to follow the call of FC Barcelona.
Marco Reus was supposed to become the next hot topic for the club and his exit would have been far more painful to stomach than Dembele and Aubameyang. Reus is not only a player that makes a difference on the pitch, but also serves as figure of identification for Dortmund. It wouldn’t have been all that surprising if the Dortmund-born German international had opted for a change of scenery in the autumn of his career, but it’s refreshing that he didn’t.
Champions League football next season is looking probable, but is not certain for a team that is struggling to unfold their full potential under interim coach Peter Stoger and are currently void of a clear footballing identity like they had under Jurgen Klopp and then Thomas Tuchel.
Yet, despite the allure of a better sporting perspective elsewhere and more money to be earned, Reus opted to remain put in Dortmund just one day after the club had suffered an embarrassing home defeat to Austrian side FC Salzburg in the UEFA Europa League.
“Sure, if you want to have it the easy way, you go to Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Barcelona or Real Madrid,” Reus said of his atypical decision on BVBTotal, adding: “But I was always someone who looked for the tough challenge because it is all the more emotional [when you win silverware] as it was the case when we won the DFB-Pokal in 2017.”
The German international, who is hoping to participate in a major tournament for the first time since the Euros in 2012, did not choose the moment to announce his extension by coincidence, but rather used the effect to send a message to the inside and the outside — just like he previously did in January 2015 when he extended his contract while the club was in last place midway through the season.
“It’s my deepest conviction to set a clear sign for the future with this contract extension,” Reus told the club’s official website.
The message is simple yet powerful for the Black and Yellows: The most prominent and arguably best player on the team believes that Dortmund have the potential to compete for silverware in the mid- and long-term. Undoubtedly, his decision can have a positive knock-on effect on players that are also weighing their future or are potential targets. Even more so, had Reus chosen to not renew his deal, the opposite effect could have had devastating ramifications for the club.
Instead, Reus has brought a spark of romance back to football, following a path of the likes of former Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard and Juventus icon Gianluigi Buffon, who remained at their clubs even through bad spells.
One can only speculate on what level the German international would be if it hadn’t been for countless setbacks due to several long-term injuries. Nevertheless, 92 goals and 61 assists in 196 matches for BVB are numbers that will be hard to replicate for any player and his significance for the team is only growing as he has morphed into a true leader on the field over the years.
“I’m wearing the Dortmund shirt since 2012,” Reus said: “I’m happy and proud to announce today that I will continue to wear it. Dortmund is my home, BVB is my club. Since my childhood, I dreamed of wearing the Black and Yellow. My pledge to the club today is also a thank you to the great fans that always supported me.”
Words that went straight into the hearts of BVB fans, however, it is hard to believe that Reus blindly inked a new deal without knowing about the direction the club is planning to take in the future. It is likely that Dortmund’s superstar is privy to who will be the next coach and which new players are targeted by the club to further improve the team for the coming seasons.
That presumed insider knowledge aside, Reus’ decision is still a respectable show of loyalty and good faith to his club in a time when those values seem to have fallen by the wayside.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.