It still isn’t entirely clear whether Liverpool intend to bring in Jörg Schmadtke as their new full time, long-term sporting director or if the German football luminary could instead be heading to Merseyside in a more limited role as a transfer consultant.
What seems safe to say at this stage is that Schmadtke is set to join in some capacity, that it will be formalized soon, and that manager Jürgen Klopp will have been key in bringing the 59-year-old former Dusseldorf and Freiburg goalkeeper to the club.
For Liverpool fans and many who cover English football, though, Schmadtke isn’t a well known name—and in Germany there have been some raised eyebrows as to whether he might be too old school and volatile for a club of their stature.
“Success wherever he’s been, not necessarily at the highest level but a decent level in German football,” said German football expert Raphael Honigstein when asked to sum up Schmadtke for those who won’t have known of him previously.
“Hugely experienced but also known for having a huge public profile which at times was almost comically bad tempered. I think it was a bit of an act, a bit of a persona, but I think that explains why in Germany many people were incredulous.
“He is seen as slightly old school and a traditionalist, which we don’t really associate with Liverpool when it comes to the transfer market, but Klopp obviously has seen something in him that he likes. I’m sure it would have been his suggestion.”
Despite that view of Schmadtke as an ill-tempered traditionalist, he has a consistent track record of improving the sides that he has joined over the years, uncovering hidden gems in the transfer market to compete with those with more resources.
At Alemannia Aachen, he took a club heavily in debt to a German Cup final and then earned promotion. Hanover went from relegation battlers to qualifying for the Champions League. Koln earned promotion and became Bundesliga mainstays.
Then there’s the Klopp factor. It seems clear the Liverpool manager is the driving force behind approaching Schmadtke, and whatever his role ends up being in the end, the Reds’ boss is convinced he is the man to help get them back on track.
“They clearly have a relationship though they’ve never worked together,” Honigstein added “He obviously thinks he’s someone who can help him at a time when Liverpool are a little bit thin when it comes to the expertise in the transfer market.
“He’s been very good when it comes to identifying talent that isn’t necessarily the obvious person to buy. Despite being around a long time, he won’t just buy a player because he happens to know the agent or has seen a video that he likes.
“He is quite conscientious. Where I think I have more doubt as far as fit is whether he can be the person knitting it all together. I think his role [at Liverpool] could be more focused on the transfer market and helping Klopp and the existing regime.
“I think it would maybe be harder for him to come in from Germany and link all these different departments together and so maybe they’ll still be looking for someone who does that sort of job but won’t be involved in the transfer dealings.”