Pros 19.07.2022 — 17:59 Uhr

Heidel: Happy with the squad, but with realistic aims

Mainz sporting director looks forward to the start of the season and the upcoming challenges

Christian Heidel on his way to training in Grassau.

As the Grassau training camp entered its final stages on Monday, sporting director Christian Heidel spoke to the press and looked back on an intense period of training in the south-east corner of Bavaria, looking ahead to upcoming plans, both in the near and medium-term future. Heidel also talked, of course, about the current Zerofivers squad, appearing satisfied but not ruling out any additional changes before the end of the transfer window on September 1st.

In between the training session Monday morning and the team’s friendly against Newcastle United in the afternoon, Heidel spoke about the enjoyable fan evening, setting goals for next season and the extended winter break due to Qatar 2022.

Christian Heidel on...

... the fan evening in Grassau:

“I can’t remember seeing anything like it at this club before, and I’ve been around longer than most! It was fantastic – there was a wonderful atmosphere and the team were there for a properly long time. It was great to chat to the fans too. About 90% of their questions were about the squad and transfers, but I think we answered things in the right way at the end of the day.”

... the current state of the squad:

“We’re pretty satisfied right now, and nothing is planned. We think the squad is in the right place and could play in the Bundesliga tomorrow if they wanted to, but we’ll take another look at things after the training camp, for sure. If new options were to come up for Aarón, with a year left on his contract, we would sit down and chat. I understand that he wants to sit tight and wait and see. If he stays, then we have a wealth of options down the left. Anthony Caci can play at right-back with no issues, and Maxim Leitsch has replaced Moussa Niakhaté. If Bo feels like we should do more, though, then we’ll take a look at things.”

... Delano Burgzorg and Marlon Mustapha:

“Delano Burgzorg is a bit like a new signing for us right now. He’s a very important option given his skills – his speed reminds me of Jeremiah St. Juste. In terms of Marlon Mustapha, we’ll have to take a look and see if he has chances to play or whether a loan would be the right option for him, but he’s doing very well and profited well from a season in the Austrian Bundesliga last time out. He’s got all the skills he needs, we just need to see where he can develop best. Right now, I’d say that would be here with us.”

Sporting directors Martin Schmidt and Christian Heidel watch over the training sessions in Grassau.

... the training camp in Grassau and Svensson’s comments on his squad:

“I’ve never been to a training camp where the coach has said everything was great at the end of it. The players have shown a real reaction to his comments, and now everything is ok. Apart from that, everything is golden here. The conditions in Grassau are some of the best I’ve seen, and I’ve probably been to 50 training camps.”

... the time remaining before the start of the season:

“In a sporting sense, we still have the game against Athletic Bilbao ahead of us, and on Friday we’ll be meeting our sponsors at the season-opener, which has been a tradition for many years. Then, on Sunday, we’ll have our summer festival. We’re all looking forward to welcoming as many people into the city and the stadium as we can – it’ll be a really enjoyable day. Even though there’s still a nagging doubt in my mind, I hope that we’ve put Covid behind us and can enjoy the start of the season to its fullest.”

... setting goals for the new season:

“I don’t want to put a massive weight on anyone’s shoulders – that’s something I’ve always avoided. We always wait and see what happens, hope for a good start, but we’re also pretty dependent on our competition. We can’t name our goal as seventh place just because we finished eighth last time out – what’s clear is that we want to build as big a gap to the lower end of the table as possible as quickly as we can. We have a good squad, good coach and we want a good atmosphere – those will be the right conditions for success.”

... the extended winter break:

“We’re considering making a little trip somewhere after the final game of 2022 against Frankfurt, but haven’t finished organising things – hundreds of other clubs around the world are doing the same thing as us. After that, we’ll have a break and then train. We need to take a look at how we fill the long time before Christmas, and then we can start back up again after the New Year. We’ll play some preparation games and have a training camp somewhere to prepare for the second half of the season. There will also be a very long transfer window, even if it only officially begins on January 1st. For me though, it will start as soon as the final game of 2022 is played on November 15th, as lots of clubs will try and adjust their teams.”