Schröder: “There’s still plenty that will happen”
Mainz sporting director sees little momentum on transfer market so far - Schwarz anticipates an intense season
Fast offensive play in midfield was once again a key focus during the second day of preseason training at the Brunchwegstadion on Monday, featuring a still depleted Mainz squad. Players will slowly make their return ahead of training camp midway through the month. It remains to be seen whether or not Mainz’s sporting director will announce further changes to the squad ahead of the trip to Grassau. “We’re feeling relaxed,” said Rouven Schröder ahead of the start of preseason.
Five new signings have joined the team. Dong-Won Ji, Jonathan Meier and Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel have completed their first training session. Cyrill Akono and Omer Hanin also practiced with the first team, despite being assigned to the U23 squad. “Both of them are fully on board with the path they will take here and that their time at Mainz will begin with the reserves,” said Schröder. New signing Edimilson Fernandes will join the squad at the start of next week.
“There’s still plenty that will happen”
Is there anything that could still happen on the transfer market? “We’re expecting that some players will still leave the club,” said Schröder. “The transfer market is still far from over—there’s still plenty that will happen in that regard. Many players are still trying to find their place. We are always looking to see if it fits financially and athletically, so that we can make our own decisions in regards to both,” the sporting director said.
It’s no big secret that the 43-year-old is still looking to add another central defender. “Central defenders are in high demand and many clubs are on the hunt for the right candidate. It’s important to remain calm. Currently, we have four players that can play centrally and that have Bundesliga experience, so we have some security there. Ahmet Gürleyen has only made one appearance so far, but is a talented player with potential. We also have a lot of quality Bundesliga players with Stefan Bell, Alex Hack and Moussa Niakhaté.”
How much Schröder will be able to spend will certainly depend on whether the inquiries made to the club for Levin Öztunali and Jean-Philippe Gbamin will turn into concrete offers. Öztunali has impressed during Germany’s run to the U21 European Championship final while Gbamin has been restricted to a substitute role so far during the Africa Cup of Nations. “We are relaxed about these situations,” said Schröder. “We are in constant discussions with them. The timeline is sometimes extremely important. The serious offer we considered for Gbamin last year came at the end of July and the beginning of August.”
“Very demanding start”
Before then, 05ers head coach Sandro Schwarz wants to bring his side back up to a good standard of football both physically and mentally. Schwarz is also using the end of last season as a benchmark for what the team can achieve in the 2019/20 season. The 40-year-old has also predicted an intensive season for Mainz and is already looking ahead to his side’s opening fixtures. “It will be a very demanding start in Freiburg followed by an emotional home game against Gladbach,” said Schwarz. (Editor’s note: new Foals head coach Marco Rose used to play for Mainz). “Then we travel to Munich to play FC Bayern before hosting Hertha. That really is a true challenge for us. We have to be up to speed straight away and it is good that we will have the DFB-Pokal first round tie away at 1. FC Kaiserslautern to prepare ourselves.”
Schwarz also predicts that next season could be more difficult and more intense than the previous campaign. “There are several new coaches in the Bundesliga and they are all bringing clear game ideologies and ideas. They want to take the match to their opponents and this is similar to what we want to achieve. This will lead to a very interesting and exciting 2019/20 Bundesliga season.”