One of the most unlikely of appointments and probably not surprising (cause it’s Liverpool), Jorg Schmadtke will be appointed as the new sporting director of Liverpool F.C after a shock departure of Julian Ward who had just replaced the outgoing Michael Edwards last summer.
Jörg Schmadtke will sign as Liverpool new director in the next few days, it’s done — expected to be unveiled very soon. 🔴🤝🏻 #LFC
He’s gonna sign short term deal valid for summer transfer window. Klopp’s ideas will remain crucial part of the process at Liverpool. pic.twitter.com/0bmATp1KGO
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 23, 2023
Likes of Sven Mislintat, Paul Mitchell, the sporting director of Monaco & Markus Krosche of Eintracht Frankfurt were all considered to be in the mix by Reds chief executive Billy Hogan and owner Mike Gordon before they concluded on Schmadtke as the man for the job. The 59-year-old is due to visit Liverpool this week and finalize the agreement as Jurgen Klopp looks to build the next great team which will challenge Manchester City in the Premier League. Schmadtke is expected to be busy straight away as the Reds look to strengthen their squad significantly this summer. The likes of Alexis Mac Allister, Mason Mount, and Ryan Gravenberch are all on the club’s list of targets, with work already well advanced in terms of lining up deals.
A BACKGROUND ON JORG SCHMADTKE
Jorg Schmadtke played as a goalkeeper mainly for Fortuna Düsseldorf & SC Freiburg, spending his time in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, making 375 appearances from 1985 to 1997. He then took up a role as the sporting director of Alemannia Aachen in 2001 followed by stints at Hannover 96, FC Koln, and Wolfsburg.
At Aachen, a club that was struggling under financial debt of four million Euro and were in danger of losing the license, Schmadtke revived their fortunes and took them to the promised land of Bundesliga, reached the German Cup final, and qualified for Europe. He continued to succeed with Hannover and Koln taking them into the Europa League. He was most recently employed by Wolfsburg where he helped the club reach Champions League qualification for the 2021-22 season.
Schmadtke left the club in January this season to take time off from football but when a job like Liverpool comes knocking at your doorstep, it’s hard to resist it.
HOW SUCCESSFUL HAS SCHMADTKE BEEN AS A SPORTING DIRECTOR?
Over the past decade if we look at Liverpool’s transfer activities, we can clearly see there are more hits and few misses and the ones which have been successful were due to injury concerns and some of them were flipped for good profits.
The success of a sporting director needs to be measured by both financial and sporting achievements. The Düsseldorf born former goalkeeper’s mantra in the transfer market is “to make fewer mistakes than others” a philosophy which will be greatly appreciated by his new employers, FSG. He tries to target not the household but the underrated players who go on to do well at the club.
Schmadtke scouted Lars Stindl when he was playing in the 2.Bundesliga side Karlsruher for Hannover. He would go on to make 150 appearances for the club and become a star for Borussia Monchengladbach and represent Germany 11 times. At his first club Aachen, the likes of Simon Rolfes and Vedad Ibisevic established themselves as Bundesliga players while current Dortmund striker Anthony Modeste was bought by him, going on to score 45 goals across the next two seasons. Manchester United striker on loan from Burnley, Wout Weghorst, signed from AZ Alkmaar in 2018 became one of the best strikers in the German top flight scoring 70 goals in 144 appearances across all competitions. Felix and Lukas Nmecha and the highly-rated Danish international Jonas Wind are also part of his success stories at Wolfsburg.
But like every human, Schmadtke has also made errors. The biggest one of all, a then 19-year-old Victor Osimhen who was signed from his country Nigeria after impressive performances at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup was let go for a small fee of £3m ($3.8m) in 2019 – today Osimhen after tearing Serie A up for SSC Napoli and leading to a first Scudetto since the days of Diego Maradona is priced at €100m by Transfermarkt. But Jorg understood the error he made remarking,
“It wasn’t a good move, in hindsight. When I came, he was limping and running in circles. I was told that the strikers we had weren’t good enough. The most important lesson is that you have to be patient with some transfers.”
HIS RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE HEAD COACH OF HIS FOOTBALL CLUBS
Schmadtke will be a different type of character that Liverpool will have ever employed. The German has a history of being abrasive when it comes to working with head coaches and is very outspoken if there are any issues he has with his employers. He is not afraid of any type of confrontation and will not back easily from arguments.
He has had major fall outs with Mirko Slomka at Hannover, and with Peter Stoger at Koln. At Wolfsburg, he said that “he won’t exchange cooking recipes and plan a holiday with Bruno Labbadia” (the then head coach) and accused Labbadia’s successor Oliver Glassner of having unrealistic demands resulting in the Austrian leaving the club after a season he took them to Champions League spots. He has also been fined for throwing chewing gum at the then-Hoffenheim manager, Julian Nagelsmann.
This is quite a contrast from the natures of both Julian Ward and Michael Edwards who preferred to work in anonymity and hardly gave interviews to the media. So it will be interesting to see how Schmadtke works with a manager who alongside Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley has been a god-like figure amongst the Reds faithful.
Jurgen Klopp did express his desire to work with Jorg when he quizzed about Jorg’s ‘retirement’, telling German publication Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung “I would have liked to work with him, [and] I’m sure it would have worked out well.” Even when news broke about Jorg’s pending announcement as the next sporting director, Klopp claimed,
“Jorg Schmadtke, I have known for a long, long time. He knows me probably not as long as I know him, because he was a much better player, but we started our second career at a similar moment . I became a coach at Mainz [in 2001] and he became sporting director at Aachen, two teams of similar status, so from there we know each other a little bit. I know he is a good guy and a smart guy. Very good at what he did in Germany, definitely, very successful. His character is good, his personality is good, his humour is good. I know that from a few moments next to the pitch.”
THE BIG JOB AHEAD FOR SCHMADTKE
It is a huge summer for Liverpool Football Club after a tough 2022/23 season where the side is on the verge of losing the Champions League spots to Newcastle United and Manchester United. There will be a need for big signings this window as the old guard of Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all have been let go as free transfers while players Joel Matip and Nat Phillips are likely to sold and Caoimhin Kelleher, Kostas Tsimikas and Fabio Carvalho are gaining admirers from various sides.
So signings of two midfielders is a must for the Reds with Mac Allister of Brighton is a key target, and Liverpool believe they have a chance of landing Chelsea star Mount ahead of London side Arsenal who are also on a hot pursuit of the midfielder.
Liverpool want to resolve final details of Alexis Mac Allister deal as soon as possible to avoid competition; full agreement on personal terms is really close. 🔴🇦🇷 #LFC
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 21, 2023
Ryan Gravenberch is another name that the Reds are considering after missing out on Jude Bellingham while Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta), Matheus Nunes (Wolves) and Khephren Thuram (Nice) are also being looked at. Jurrien Timber of Ajax has been linked, while Nayef Aguerd (West Ham) and Levi Colwill (Chelsea) are the reinforcements being looked over if Joel Matip and Nat Phillips leave the club.
The incoming sporting director will be working alongside chief scout Barry Hunter and head of recruitment Dave Fallows, while academy scout Matt Newberry will step up, temporarily, to replace another departee, David Woodfine, as the club’s director of loans.