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Barcelona regretting sending Paco Alcacer to Borussia Dortmund

13:13 GMT+4 24/10/2018
Paco Alcacer Borussia Dortmund
The striker has been reborn since joining BVB on loan, netting eight times in five games in all competitions, as well as scoring three goals for Spain

Is it a fairy tale, or a miracle?

Already joint-top of the Bundesliga goal chart with seven goals from four appearances, Paco Alcacer seems reborn at Borussia Dortmund after two dismal years with Barcelona.

The Spanish hotshot’s instant stardom in Germany has come as such a surprise that the search for an explanation has sparked some extreme theories.

"It's almost like a modern-day fairy tale," general manager Michael Zorc said. "Nobody would have expected Paco to work out so well, so soon."

Even Spain boss Luis Enrique has been unable to resist a striker who may have been blessed by a higher power after mostly overlooking the 25-year-old in their year together at Camp Nou.

"He is massive at the moment as he is in a state that players rarely reach,” he said amid Alcacer’s run of three goals in two games for La Roja last week. “What we are seeing from him is miraculous.”

But the story of Alcacer will not be found in any anthology of whimsical stories, nor is it written in biblical prophecy. The move to Dortmund has not revealed him as football’s ugly duckling and although Borussia Dortmund fans are basking in his goals, they are not manna from heaven.

Instead, it was Japanese manga artist One who came closest to predicting the unlikely hero’s rise to prominence in the famous series 'One-Punch Man'.

The webcomic and now popular anime show’s main character, Saitama, is an underestimated 25-year-old who possesses no real superpowers, but regardless of the threat of the monster or villain wreaking havoc, he only ever needs one hit to save the planet.

Having taken seven shots on target to score as many goals in just 126 minutes of Bundesliga football, as well as netting once in the Champions League too, Alcacer has shown Dortmund that he is the unlikely hero to call upon to land a crucial blow when needed.

He has been impressive enough to fight his way back into the national team, announcing himself on his first Spain game for over two and a half years with a double against Wales.

As Spain were being pummelled 3-0 by England at half-time days later, Luis Enrique introduced the man he knew packed a fair wallop capable of wounding the Three Lions. A minute after coming on, he made his impact as he headed in Marco Asensio’s corner to lift La Roja.

Although Alcacer had been known as a dangerous attacker as he blossomed at Valencia before taking on a minor role at Barcelona in 2016, he is firing at a new level now.

Being stuck behind the stars in Catalunya does not seem to have damaged his confidence and he looks even sharper with his positioning and eye for space.

“I don't think I've lost two years [at Barcelona],” he said this week. “In terms of the number of minutes I had, it's clear that I'd have liked to play more, but I have improved a lot as a footballer and as a person.”

The sudden revitalisation sounded simple when he explained it to Teledeporte : "It's a bit of everything: a [good] streak, confidence, having minutes and, above all, working every day when you do not play to be able to be well when you return.”

Had Barcelona known it was that easy to get the best out of him, they may have held off on allowing him to move to Germany on loan with a €23 million (£20m/$26.5m) buying option, especially as the Spanish side head into Sunday’s meeting against Real Madrid without Lionel Messi.

Indeed, the struggles of former Bordeaux sensation Malcom only reflects worse on their summer business, whereas it seems the German team have pulled off a masterstroke.

Dortmund already seem convinced and ready to snap him up permanently, even though he has played only one full game.

Alcacer was injured when joined in late-August but got off to a perfect start as he came off the bench and soon blasted in from the edge of the box to seal a 3-1 win against Eintracht Frankfurt.

In his next appearance, he came on for the last 30 minutes against Bayer Leverkusen to score a late double and complete an impressive comeback as Dortmund won 4-2. He went one better in the same amount of time the following week in a thrilling encounter against Augsburg – landing the final blow deep in injury time to complete a hat-trick in a 4-3 victory.

It was an excellent treble to showcase the depth of his ability as an attacker. Racing in front of the defenders, he got into the perfect position in the box to meet Jadon Sancho’s low cross to level the score – he had been on for three minutes.

After Augsburg regained the lead, he nipped in to meet a chipped pass and hook it past the goalkeeper at the near post. He saved the best for last, lashing home a free-kick in the dying seconds to put it all to bed.

The excellent record was kept alive on Saturday when he cut out a pass and charged towards goal to beat Ron-Robert Zieler and net the third of a 4-0 win over Stuttgart before being taken off at half-time.

“It was a very, very, very good transfer,” coach Lucien Favre said, summing up Dortmund’s glee as they sit unbeaten at the top of the league.

Embarking on a battle to unseat the Bavarian behemoth that is Bayern Munich and challenging Europe’s best in the Champions League, Dortmund are hoping Alcacer can be the hero who makes the difference.