A strong presence for the midfield
New signing Edimilson Fernandes impresses with elegant football and brings international experience – Schröder: signing quality players above anything else
1. FSV Mainz 05 announced their first signing during the end of the season: Dong-Won Ji, the all-round Korean attacker will join on a free from FC Augsburg. Since then, he has been joined by left-back Jonathan Meier from Bayern’s U23s, and the transfer of Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel, a right-back from AS Monaco, is in the works. This week, Rouven Schröder further strengthened the Mainz midfield by adding Edimilson Fernandes from West Ham United. All the signings so far fit into the sporting director’s motto for planning next season’s squad: “above anything else, signing quality players who will help strengthen us up front and on the wings.”
Last summer, Schröder signed seven players. Five of them became first-team regulars straight away, and made their way into the spotlight. Another of them, Philipp Mwene, was on the way to becoming a starter before a serious injury prevented him from doing so. Youngster Abass Issah is now on his way to Utrecht to pick up some needed game experience. Schröder did not want to give a definite answer as to how active the club will continue to be in the transfer market over the next few weeks. “Listing a set number is always a bad idea, because it just kicks off a ton of speculation,” said the 43-year-old. “If a starting player leaves our club, then we will obviously look to replace them. What’s clear is that we will still bring in a central defender, in order to strengthen ourselves there.”
Knowing what to do
They will continue to add quality players, “so that the lads who were already on a good path are able to take it one step further. We’re currently working on finding the candidates that fit best to Mainz 05, and that we can afford. And, that fit the way in which our coach wants to play.”
The past season, Sandro Schwarz found success with a 4-4-2 diamond formation. Given the likelihood that Jean-Philippe Gbamin—who featured heavily at the top of the diamond in central midfield after Kunde Malong was successful as a defensive central midfielder—could possibly leave the club after three years, it’s understandable that a classic midfielder like Fernandes will now come to help strengthen Schwarz’s formation in midfield. Someone “who knows exactly what to do in this position,” as Schröder said.
Edimilson, whose cousin Gelson Fernandes plays for Eintracht Frankfurt, can play on either the right or left side. The 1,87m tall midfielder has had a solid development, is a technically strong and elegant player, who is able to gain speed in midfield and create space. The 23-year-old Swiss international already made an impression as a 17-year-old with FC Sion in the Swiss league. “We’ve kept an eye on his development since his potential was evident at FC Sion,” said Schröder. When Fernandes switched clubs, Mainz would have liked to the ones to sign him, but as a highly-sought player, Fernandes could choose where to go. He made the move to English side West Ham, where he played 42 games before being loaned out to Fiorentina, where he featured in 33 matches.
The right environment
The fact that his cousin plays in Frankfurt—the Bundesliga being an attractive destination for players from neighbouring countries—was an important factor in the transfer. “Edimilson was looking for the right environment that he needs in order to feel at ease,” said Schröder.
The performances at the end of the season, and the way in which the team presented itself were proof to those responsible that the team is on the right path. “What’s important is that we have control. We want to build up our squad so that we have the power to continue to shape it and that we can decide for ourselves if we will make a transfer or not. At the same time, we want to get the players excited and get them to stay with us. To convince the player, even if he may have other thoughts, to take that next step with us,” said Schröder. “We’re by no means finished yet. Nothing is ever concluded at Mainz 05. Bringing this boost from the past few weeks with us into the new season will be the biggest challenge.”