For many whenever the name “Borussia Dortmund” is mentioned their first thought tends to be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
He’s the main man at the club and since the departures of the likes of Jurgen Klopp, Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels the 27-year-old has taken over as the standout individual synonymous with the club. He’s been tipped to follow the aforementioned players out of the revolving door at Dortmund with Real Madrid, Manchester City and Manchester United being heavily linked in the past but, for now at least, he’s staying put.
Occasionally clubs can be overly reliant on certain players. They almost become part of the foundations and there’s a fear that removing them will mean all the good work that went before will come undone. There's a train of thought to suggest that Aubameyang is that player for Dortmund.
He's a key piece in the Jenga structure. The one straw you can't remove from your game of Kerplunk. His importance is further highlighted by the fact members of he media continually ask “where would they be without him?” after the prolific forward nets yet another hat-trick.
It’s understandable, after all the Gabonese striker has scored 108 goals in 174 appearances since his move from Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2013. He's on course to have his most prolific league season to date this time around with him being just four goals shy of last season's total of 25 with 11 games still to play.
Is he perfectly suited to the attack or is the attack perfectly suited to him?
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 8, 2017
When it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net for Dortmund in the Bundesliga the former AC Milan attacker has no peers. In terms of goals the closest player to him in the BVB ranks is Ousmane Dembele who has six league goals to his name in his debut campaign with the club.
After the Frenchman it's two defender-cum-midfielders in Lukasz Piszczek and summer signing Raphael Guerreiro, who have chipped in with five and four goals respectively.
The German club loaned out Adrian Ramos, their only other natural striker, to Spanish side Granada in January and didn't feel the need to immediately replace him. Alexander Isak, the 17-year-old Swede, did arrive from AIK but he's unlikely to feature much this campaign.
The Colombian forward left in search of first-team football after being nothing more than a squad player since his move from Hertha Berlin in the summer of 2015.
But in a twisted way, the fact they allowed Ramos to leave proves the club aren't reliant on Aubameyang. The team wouldn't crumble in his absence.
Thomas Tuchel and the recruitment team at Dortmund didn't feel the need to go out and bring in a back-up striker to Aubameyang because they know they have players at their disposal already capable of scoring goals in their system.
Despite a lack of regular playing time, during his last season-and-a-half with the club Ramos was scoring a goal every 110 minutes. This as a bit part player. Earlier on in the season he started four consecutive matches and scored three goals. He's not in the same league as Aubameyang but he was still scoring on a regular basis in the BVB set-up.
Andre Schurrle, Marco Reus and even Dembele could play as a striker and they would probably find the back of the net with alarming regularity. This is taking nothing away from Aubameyang, who has turned into a poacher supreme during his time in Germany, but it's merely recognising just how effective this Dortmund side is at carving out chances.
Aubameyang and his goals
So far this term the one-time Lille winger has found the net 28 times in all competitions with the exception of the African Cup of Nations. He's averaging a goal every 84 minutes.
But stats don't always tell the whole story. Aubameyang has turned into a poacher since his move to Dortmund. He's the man to round-off the well worked team moves. While there's nothing wrong with that, it does prove they aren't reliant on him as a team.
Of his 28 goals this season 14 of them have arrived from within the six-yard box and only five of his strikes have come from the penalty spot or behind. He's not scored a goal from outside of the six-yard box since December when he notched against Hoffenheim.
That tells a story in itself.
It shows two things; one of which is he's got a knack for getting into good areas like all good strikers do and the other highlights just how good his side are at creating goalscoring chances.
How many strikers would find it difficult to score when you have the likes of Julian Weigl, Gonzalo Castro, Emre More, Christian Pulisic, Schurrle, Reus and Dembele providing you with ammunition on a regular basis.
It's the perfect marriage right now but if they're ever to part ways it may be the player, and not the club, who will find it more difficult to replicate such form.
There aren't many teams out there who cater to their striker like Tuchel's yellow army do. Aubameyang may be the poster boy for Dortmund, and the man given all the plaudits due to his goals, but the club are by no means overly reliant on him. Opposition teams should fear the team, not the individual.