It looks like Liverpool have found the club’s next sporting director in the form of Joerg Schmadtke. Here’s what will happen when he’s appointed this summer.
Liverpool’s search for Julian Ward’s successor has dragged the club on for several months since the former sporting director announced he was leaving the post this summer.
But now it looks like Liverpool finally have a successor to Ward’s throne.
According to The Telegraph, Liverpool are now in advanced negotiations with Joerg Schmadtke. A fellow German, the report says he is a close ally of Jürgen Klopp, who could be the ideal Liverpool boardroom partner.
Schmadtke enjoyed a long spell at Wolfsburg before stepping down for family reasons earlier this year.
After stepping down from his position, Schmadtke told Kicker:
“There are other things in life that I want to do. I think first of all of my wife and my family, who have had to take a back seat for years. It’s time to close this chapter.”
“But,” Schmadtke added. “It may be that after three months I can’t take it anymore. Or even worse: my wife kicks me out of the house again.
It’s been a little over three months, but it looks like that prediction could turn out to be true. Just as Klopp’s break from football was short-lived when Liverpool called, so could Schmadtke.
So here are four things that could happen if he is nominated:
Budget used efficiently
Wherever Schmadtke went he had to operate on extremely tight budgets, even smaller than those of Liverpool and FSG, and yet he always did well.
At Wolfsburg, Schmadtke spent just over $45m (£35m/€40m) in one of his five seasons with the club. Despite this, he spends his money efficiently and has attracted some excellent players.
When he joined Wolfsburg, the club had landed just a few places above the relegation zone. Under him, Schmadtke helped the team find a European club and even reached the Champions League.
During his time he brought in talents like Ridle Baku, Maxence Lacroix, Aster Vranckx, Jonas Wind, Matias Svanberg, Wout Weghorst, Patrick Wimmer and Jakub Kaminski to name a few players.
Some of the stars above have since been linked to big money moves elsewhere. Weghorst is now at Manchester United and Vranckx at AC Milan.
At Liverpool FC, Schmadtke gets a bigger budget from the FSG, but still has to operate in a confined space compared to the club’s competition. His track record at Wolfsburg shows he is ready for the task.
In fact, his ability to squeeze the absolute maximum out of budgets could make him the perfect leader of FSG strategy.
Open new markets
Due to Schmadtke’s limited budget at Wolfsburg, he was often forced to seek alternative markets in European and international football to find talent. He bought a lot in the Austrian Bundesliga and moved into the Polish EkstraKlasa market with a few recruits, including the talented Kaminski. He also bought big names from relative darkness like Lacroix, which was recruited from Copenhagen in Ligue 2 from Sochaux and Jonas Wind.
He recently made strikers to growing markets in Asia and the United States.
He signed Yun-Sang Hong from Pohang Steelers in South Korea in 2021. The following year he also brought Kevin Paredes from DC United, who has four goal posts for the club in just 434 minutes this season. That Moneyball-like eye for undervalued regions would also suit the FSG perfectly.
The Red Bull connection remains intact
Under Michael Edwards, Liverpool have built a strong relationship with Red Bull clubs, particularly RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg.
Edwards forged strong bonds signing Takumi Minamino, Naby Keïta and Ibrahima Konaté within a few years.
Schmadtke must also have relatively strong ties to the energy drink empire. During his time at Wolfsburg, he bought more than one player from three clubs including Red Bull Salzburg – the other two were LASK and Manchester City. In the case of Xaver Schlager, Schmadtke then also sold his Salzburg recruit to another Red Bull team in Leipzig.
Having done business with Red Bull clubs, both in terms of income and expenses, he must have developed a strong relationship.
Liverpool played Leipzig and Salzburg in pre-season friendlies last summer and Schmadtke’s signing would ensure the continuity of these cordial relations.
Increased lending activity
At Wolfsburg, Schmadtke has often used the loan market rather than selling his players outright.
Victor Osimhen, for example, was loaned out before being sold. Josip Brekalo, Marin Pongracic, Elvis Rexhbecaj, Omar Marmoush, Felix Uduokhai, Aster Vranckx and Maximilian Philipp have all received temporary transfers from the club at one time or another.
At times, in the case of players like Marmoush, sporting director Schmadtke has used loan spells to help reintegrate them into the first team. While for others like Brekalo, Uduokhai and Rexhbecaj, they have been used to inflate their transfer fees.
Something similar is currently happening with the aforementioned Vranckx, Philipp and Pongracic, all on loan to Serie A or Bundesliga clubs.
Under Julian Ward, Liverpool have increased their activity in the loan market, sending a plethora of players from the club’s academy on loan. Perhaps this strategy could continue under Schmadtke as well, as FSG are undoubtedly looking to maximize value when selling players to implement their stand-alone approach.
Who is Jorg Schmadtke? Liverpool’s “strange” sporting director front-runner
Liverpool’s vacant sporting director role could be close to being filled after reports that Jorg Schmadtke is closing in on joining the club.
The Reds have been on the lookout for a new sporting director since Julian Ward gave his notice back in November, and names have been linked before being quickly ruled out.
Schmadtke’s name is sticking, though, after it was widely reported that talks have “accelerated” in recent days, with Liverpool looking “set to appoint” the German.
With Liverpool needing to ensure they hire the right person for the post, we need to ask, who is Jorg Schmadtke?
What is there to know about Schmadtke?
Schmadtke is currently unemployed but his career in football has extended to playing – he was a goalkeeper – management and as a sporting director.
His most recent job was with Wolfsburg acting as their managing director, but his spell with the German club ended in January after four-and-a-half years.
The 59-year-old has held similar sporting director roles with Alemannia Aachen, Hannover 96 and FC Koln, but he has a reputation that precedes him.
As per the initial report in the Telegraph, Schmadtke is known for “recruitment that gets value for the budgets he is assigned,” a tick in the box for owners FSG.
There was a hint of an existing relationship with Jurgen Klopp, having been described as an “ally” of the manager – which is a necessity for the position.
The interesting side of his character, though, lies in what many have described as ‘controversies’ with Buli News having once noted his “uniquely gruff manner” that “left him the subject of jokes in German footballing circles.”
Back in 2016, he apologised for throwing chewing gum at Julian Nagelsmann, then Hoffenheim manager, and in the same year he was fined €6,000 after calling officials “Eierköppe,” which means “eggheads.”
The Telegraph stated that he is “known for his outspoken style,” but he has previously apologised to those he may have “wronged.”
“It’s possible that I’ve stepped on the toes of one or two people,” he told German outlet Kicker. “I apologise in the strongest possible terms to anyone who feels they’ve been wronged by me.
“I’m not as big an ass as people might think.”
If he is the man Liverpool have chosen, he will certainly arrive with a reputation.
Can he work with Klopp?
Bundesliga journalist Chris Williams, on Twitter, offered a valuable insight into what Liverpool could expect in what he describes would be a “strange appointment.”
“He can identify players but has issues working with coaches, then the players themselves,” Williams penned.
“He’s quite vocal in and around the clubs he’s worked at, it’s rubbed many up the wrong way. One of those characters who can become unpopular internally, despite any good work done.”
If the Jörg Schmadtke news is correct, it’s a very strange appointment. On an exit interview from Wolfsburg he said “I’m not as big an ass as people might think.” #LFC
— Chris Williams (@Chris78Williams) May 6, 2023
Schmadtke is evidently not one to sit idle as he wants to be heavily involved, but at what cost?
“When Klopp originally joined Liverpool he said he wanted players who will push the train not ride it,” Williams continued.
“Although Schmadtke won’t play, he’ll push the train, in fact, he’ll pull it, ferociously at top speed. That’s been too much for most of his coaches, strange; but interesting.”
What is key, though, is Klopp has clearly had a role to play in pursuing Schmadtke and that shows confidence in the pair working well together.
Klopp aside, though, he will need to be able to work side-by-side with the club’s current head of recruitment Dave Fallows and chief scout Barry Hunter.
It is not an appointment many would have expected from Liverpool but the club will be hoping to tap into his wealth of experience and return to their savvy ways in the transfer market.
Schmadtke was involved in signing the likes of Wout Weghorst, Maxence Lacroix, Kevin Mbabu, Micky Van de Ven and Ridle Baku during his time at Wolfsburg.
As it stands, Ward is still involved in negotiations at present for Liverpool but the appointment of his successor looks to be around the corner if the latest reports are anything to go by.
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