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Borussia Dortmund and the Idea That Anything Is Possible

Borussia Dortmund and the Idea That Anything Is Possible
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Europe|Borussia Dortmund and the Idea That Anything Is Possible



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Borussia Dortmund’s squad contains a host of viable case studies to illustrate its patchwork nature, but as captain — the man honored with leading out the unlikeliest Champions League finalist in 20 years at Wembley on Saturday — Emre Can may be the most compelling.

Not quite five years ago, while he was on international duty with Germany, Can’s phone rang. On the other end of the line was an executive with Juventus, the Italian team he had joined the previous season. They had what might be described as a curt conversation, though either one of those words might be pushing it.

The Juventus official had bad news and good news. The bad news was that the club’s manager, Maurizio Sarri, had left Can out of his squad list for the Champions League, meaning he would not be eligible to play in Europe’s elite competition that season. The good news? At least he could expect a few nights off. (He probably did not say this.)

Can did not, it is fair to say, take it well. “I am furious,” he said, when news of his exclusion became public. He had turned down the chance to leave Juventus because he believed he would play in the Champions League, he said. And now he had been told he would not, in a “phone call that did not even last a minute.”

That conversation signaled the end of Can’s time in Italy — within a few months, he had joined Dortmund, initially on loan — but seemed to mark a more significant watershed. Can had already been allowed to leave Liverpool as Jürgen Klopp’s revolution there had gathered steam. Now he had been deemed dead weight in Italy, too.

The message was clear. Can — at the ripe old age of 25 — had been judged and weighed by soccer’s elite, and found wanting.

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