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2A0H7HH Wolfsburg, Deutschland. 19th Sep, 2019. firo: 19.09.2019, football, UEFA Europa League, EL, season 2019/2020, VfL Wolfsburg - PFK Oleksandrija 3: 1 Jorg SCHMADTKE, managing director of Wolfsburg, portrait, laughs | usage worldwide Credit: dpa/Alamy Live News

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?

10.12.2011, Weserstadion, Bremen, GER, 1.FBL, Werder Bremen vs VfL Wolfsburg, im Bild Die Ostkurve des Weserstadions // during the match Werder Bremen vs VfL Wolfsburg on 2011/12/10, Weserstadion, Bremen, Germany. EXPA Pictures © 2011, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ nph/ Frisch..***** ATTENTION - OUT OF GER, CRO *****

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.”

Hoffenheim's coach Julian Nagelsmann during the Bundesliga soccer match between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and 1. FSV Mainz 05 at Rhein-Neckar-Arena in Sinsheim, Germany, 20 February 2016. Photo: Uwe Anspach/dpa

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?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 22, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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.”

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.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 26, 2023: Liverpool's owner John W. Henry (R) and Chief Executive Officer Billy Hogan (L) during the FA Premier League match between West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC at the London Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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.