Contra: When a hero departs,...
...there is always some nostalgic feeling related to the wonderful things the hero has accomplished fort he world. Alex Frei is a hero; however this nostalgic feeling does not come up. Why? Because it is not the right time for him to leave Borussia
How can you give up your best man? This is the common, yet irritating question that popped up last week when Alex Frei's move to Basel was announced. Peacefully, he asserted that Borussia "did all what it takes" to convince him to stay in the Ruhrgebiet. But he assured all Dortmunders that his move "back to the roots" (he started his career there) was his grand wish.
But whether or not it was his wish to go back, no one doubts that Frei was at least slightly disappointed by the fact that he had to take his seat on the bench for a couple of time last season. Also, given that Frei's contract (until 2010) was not discussed and renewed within last season sheds some dubios light on the claim that Borussia "did all it takes". And if they did not and Frei would have been willing to remain in Dortmund, there are good reasons for why the deal made with Basel is faulty.
Starting with the most important issue: Frei's performance - even when suffering from a lack of regular practice and matches in the first round of the season- was still superior to the ones of his fellow strikers. His return against Schalke was impressive, and also his general quota of around 0,5 goals per match are not only top notch in Dortmund, but probably in the whole league. In particular, Frei's instinct when it comes to scoring, his excellent shooting technique and his accurate crosses and corners can neither being compensated by the rest of a team nor by a new forward given that Borussia faces limited funds to replace him. And the important goals, for instance the legendary 1:0 against Schalke on 12/05/2007, are the ones Alex Frei stands for, especially in light of the fact that the remaining strikers often show weaknesses when it comes to the classical strikers goals.
Frei was an accepted leader within the squad. This becomes obvious when looking at various comments made by players in Dortmund. He was well respected for his stunning performances and his experience, the latter of which was very important for the youngsters within the team. At his age (29/30) he was ideal to complement the younger players who need guidance and inspiration in order to develop their skills. Hence, he added to a hierarchy that consisted of players such as Weidenfeller, Kehl, Dede and Owomoyela. Now that he is gone, one of the most respected of these players is gone, which is a substantial loss for the integrity and shape of the team.
Frei is someone who states his opinion, honestly and confident, without thinking of what the press may make of it and without appearing to be arrogant. This is an attribute difficult to seek in a world where every word of players is observed and noted. His way of being honest and not trying to cover his statements in a veil of tactics is highly regarded by all supporters in Dortmund - even by those who did not always agree with his positions. But this originality brought about something important for supporters: they could identify with this truth-orientated attitude. And this is important for the strong relationship that developed between the team and the fans.
Now look at these three points. How lucky can you be if you get a player who matches these three traits? Even if you spend crazy amounts of money, you will be very unlikely to find someone equal to his uniqueness. And finally, this is a very important matter for the future performance of Borussia's young team. The current market for strikers is tight as people in Madrid and the UK are out of their minds and pay ridiculous amounts of money for (top-) players from all around the world. It will be hard, if not impossible, to find a suitable replacement for Frei, who has always been a guarantor for around 15 goals a season. It is highly doubtable to assume that the overall team's performance will improve if we do not find a player as good as Frei. And so, Euro-League seems to be further, and further away.
And even if you can find a player with his qualities, it will be very unlikely that he can mess with Frei's standing, character and the experience he conveyed to the whole team.
In this sense, we owe Alex Frei not only many thanks. We should really understand that we lost one of the best strikers and greatest personalities. And given all these issues, it was certainly a faulty decision to let him go. You can't buy character.
Good luck, Alex!