Dortmund COO Cramer: We are not a selling club
Despite Aubameyang rumours, German club's COO Cramer insists they can keep best players
Borussia Dortmund are bracing themselves for the departure of star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with the 31-goal striker poised to join the Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian.
If the move materialises, the Gabon international will be the latest in a string of big names to leave the German club in recent years, following the likes of Mats Hummels, Mario Goetze, Ilkay Guendogan and Henrik Mkhitaryan.
Dortmund's chief operating officer Carsten Cramer, however, asserts that Dortmund are neither a selling club, nor can they be considered underdogs any more - the reigning German Cup champions are determined to stay true to their sustainable transfer policy.
"We are not a selling club, but we accept that it's part of the business that some players make a movement somewhere else," Cramer told The New Paper in an interview at Dortmund's Singapore office last week.
"Sometimes the best players will go, but the probability of them leaving is less now, because we don't pay peanuts.
"Players know that they can play in the Champions League and they can win titles with us.
"We are attractive employers, we have the most loyal supporters, we have one of the biggest crowds in the world and the best atmosphere in the stadium (Signal Iduna Park)."
Cramer revealed that the club were disappointed when Hummels (Bayern), Guendogan (Manchester City) and Mkhitaryan (Manchester United) left last year, because they expected at least one of the trio to extend their stay at Dortmund.
But he also cited examples of young stars like Ousmane Dembele and Christian Pulisic, both of whom recently made public statements about their desire to stay at the club. This proves that Dortmund can retain their best players.
Cramer also stood by Dortmund's policy of not "buying stars at the highest level of performance", but instead focusing on developing younger players with potential.
Twelve years ago, the club came close to bankruptcy, and Cramer is adamant that the same mistake will never be repeated again.
Indeed, sustainability and growth are now part of the club's DNA, as Cramer pointed to the club's revenue of more than 400 million euros (S$629m), and their consistency in qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
And they are not obsessed with chasing Bayern Munich, who won a record-extending fifth consecutive Bundesliga title last season.
Dortmund finished third, 18 points behind Bayern and three points behind second-placed RB Leipzig.
"If you're in the shadow of another club and always try to overtake someone, you will make mistakes," said Cramer, whose club finished runners-up to Bayern three times in the last five seasons after winning the title in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
"Of course, it would be better for the Bundesliga if the competition for the championship is a closer one than the last (few) years, but it is the result of the successful work of Bayern - we can't complain about their success.
"As long as we know where we stand, it's not necessary to complain about finishing second twice or three times in a row. But we are no more underdogs - we are challengers."
Dortmund were one of the early movers into the Asian market, and they are determined to expand their fan base by visiting Asia for a pre-season tour next month - their third in a row.
They will play J-League side Urawa Reds in Japan and Italian giants AC Milan in Guangzhou, China.
While they will not play in Singapore, they will take the German Cup to Singapore in August.
Cramer further revealed that Dortmund are likely to come to South-east Asia in 2019, with activities planned to interact with football fans.
"It is part of our DNA as a club to be as authentic as possible - we are a family," said Cramer.
"That is how we conduct ourselves daily, and that is what we want to do here (in Asia) - reach out to people."