Dortmund star Sahin poached by Real Madrid

Nuri Sahin, the young midfielder who helped steer Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga title this year, has been signed on a six-year contract to Real Madrid for an estimated €10 million transfer fee.

Dortmund star Sahin poached by Real Madrid
Photo: DPA

Sahin, 22, is the third young Bundesliga star to have been signed lately by Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, following in the footsteps of Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira.

The clubs did not reveal how much Real would pay, but Sahin’s contract with Dortmund reportedly stated that he could leave the club if there was an offer of at least €10 million from outside Germany.

Sahin, who plays for the Turkish national team despite growing up in Germany, announced his move at a press conference Monday in Dortmund.

“This decision was very, very difficult for me. But I will always remain a fan and a member of Borussia,” said Sahin, who has been with the club since the age of 12.

“I didn’t choose Real Madrid for money,” he said, according to Real Madrid’s website. “I chose it because it’s the greatest club in the world. It’s impossible to say ‘no’ to its history and current project. Jose Mourinho convinced me immediately. We met here in Dortmund one day. He is one of the best coaches in the world and I’m dying to work with him. It will be a great challenge.”

Spanish media reported on Monday that Real were also looking to buy Bayern Munich midfielder Hamit Altintop, another Turkish international.

Sahin’s arrival will add to the depth of talent in the midfield, putting him in competition with Khedira who is a defensive midfielder like Sahin. Other Real midfielders Fernando Gago, Sergio Canales and Pedro Leon, who were little used this season, may move on from the club.

Real described Sahin as a “Bundesliga sensation” in a statement on its website.

“Nuri Sahin is a talented, young midfielder fresh off a German Bundesliga title,” it said. ”The German-born Turk has a knack for distributing the ball as well as recovering it. With a powerful left foot and an eye for ball placement, he is also a master at free-kicks.”

Sahin set a record in 2005 as the youngest player ever to play for the Bundesliga at age 16 years, 335 days and also the youngest scorer, netting against Nuremberg three months into his career. He is the youngest player both to play and to score for Turkey.

Many regard him as the best Bundesliga player of the season.

He has played for Dortmund since he was 12, playing 135 Bundesliga matches and scoring 13 goals, six of them this season as Dortmund claimed its first Bundesliga title since 2001-02.

But he missed the last three matches for Dortmund because of a right knee injury he picked up against Freiburg in mid-April.

The Local/DPA/djw

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EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches

The German Bundesliga kicks off on Friday evening with a match in Mönchengladbach. Here's a run-down of the Covid rules for football fans itching to join the crowds at the stadium.

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches
Crowds cheer at a match between FC Kaiserslautern and Borussia Mönchengladbach, on August 9th, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

All eyes will be on Mönchengladbach this evening as the Bundesliga season kicks off with a match against reigning champions Bayern Munich – and this time, a crowd will be present in the stadium.

READ ALSO: German football fans get green light to return to stadiums next season

With several states liberalising their rules for public gatherings in recent months, many football fans are looking forward to enjoying a lively atmosphere at football matches once more. 

There’s just one problem: there are different rules for different stadiums. Here’s what you need to know about the Covid rules before you book your ticket for any of the upcoming fixtures. 

How many fans are allowed in the stadiums? 

According to a recent decision by the federal and state governments, football stadiums around the country are allowed to fill half of their seats and sell up to 25,000 tickets to fans. 

Of course, how much this limit affects the overall atmosphere – and the football clubs’ bottoms lines – depends on the capacity of the stadium. In Borussia Dortmund this weekend, the full 25,000 tickets have been sold – but that only equates to 30 percent of the stadium’s full capacity.

READ ALSO: German football: Which Bundesliga club should I support?

Meanwhile, in the stadium owned by Berlin’s FC Union, selling just 11,000 tickets is enough to fill half of the available seats. 

What do I need to show to get in? 

That really depends on the stadium in question, although in general anyone over the age of six will need to show a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery – the so-called ‘3G’ rule – to enter the grounds. But other clubs, such as FC Cologne, have decided to only permit people who are vaccinated or recovered to attend matches from August 28th onwards – with exceptions for people who can’t get vaccinated, like children and pregnant woman.

At Mönchengladbach’s Borussia Park stadium, however, unvaccinated fans can enter with a negative test, though visitors who’ve stayed in a high-risk or virus variant area over the past two weeks will be unable to enter – along with people who’ve had recent contact with someone who has Covid. 

If you want to see action like this at FC Cologne’s stadium, you’ll need to get your Covid jabs sorted first. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund has taken a middle ground. While the 3G rule applies in principle, only 1,000 of the available 25,000 tickets will be sold to people who are providing a negative test. The remaining 24,000 seats will only be available for those who are vaccinated against – or recently recovered from – Covid. 

If you’re not vaccinated and are keen to see a match, it’s worth checking on your local club’s website beforehand or sending them an email to double-check whether you will be allowed in. 

What else do I need to know about? 

You’ll need to bring a FPP2 mask with you to matches to wear in your seat and while heading to the bathroom or bar, and also observe social distancing rules – meaning staying 1.5 metres apart from your fellow fans.

In most states, you’ll also need to provide your contact details, which will be saved by the club and potentially passed on to local health authorities in order to monitor a potential Covid outbreak. 

Will these rules continue throughout the season?

That’s still an open question. If infection rates in Germany continue to rise or high-profile superspreading events occur at future matches, the government could potentially crack down further on sports events in autumn.

This could involve limiting the seat numbers even further, or (more controversially), introducing a ‘vaccinated-only’ rule for entering stadiums. 

READ ALSO: Should Germany bring in Covid restrictions for unvaccinated people only?

A recent outbreak of Covid in the Mainz football team has also dampened celebrations slightly in the run-up to the start of the Bundesliga – leaving club owners urgently calling for both fans and footballers to get vaccinated. 

Speaking to WDR ahead of the season’s start, FC Cologne’s managing director Alexander Wehrle said widespread vaccination was the best route back to normality – a message reiterated by Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann.