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Fussball90, Exclusive interview with Constantin Eckner: Christian Heidel is the best sport director at the moment; Mainz know the feeling of losing key players during the summer transfer window

Thursday, September 1, 2016، 07:30 PM ، 11 months and 19 days 16 hours and 57 minutes before

Constantin Eckner answered our few questions.

Fussball90.com:

Fussball90. What was the main reason of unacceptable results of TSG Hoffenheim last season? With the joining of Sandro Wagner, do you think Eduardo Vargas would remain in Hoffenheim? Can they become successful again and can they keep Sule and Rudy?

Markus Gisdol was in charge when the season started. He's a quite creative coach, but couldn't put all things together in autumn. To replace him with Huub Stevens was, quite frankly, a stupid decision. Stevens didn't bring much to the table. Hoffenheim's front office probably believed the experienced Dutchman could rescue yet another club from being relegated. After all, they decided to appoint Julian Nagelsmann as their head coach earlier than planned. Initially, he was supposed to take over after the season, yet he could have started his job in the second league if they hadn't chosen to give the young coach a chance in a quite difficult situation. As for their activities on the transfer market, the departure of Kevin Volland certainly hurts. Sandro Wagner is a decent option for the centre-forward role. That said, they have to keep Eduardo Vargas in my opinion. He is more versatile than Wagner, being able to play on different positions up front or on the wings. Add Andrej Kramarić and a few talents, and you have a dangerous offense. Plus, they should be able to keep Süle and Rudy for at least one more year.

Fussball90. Do you think Mr Hecking is the right man for Wolfsburg? How do you describe his performance over these years?

I would change the question: is there a better coach than Dieter Hecking who wants to go to Wolfsburg? If not, then Hecking is the right man right now. Hecking seems to be an exponent of the theory that football is first and foremost a players' game. He prefers a rather simplistic approach and wants to emphasis the strengths of his players instead of putting them into a certain system where the idea stands above results. This can work, in case you have high quality players like Kevin De Bruyne or Ivan Perisic. Unfortunately for Wolfsburg, after finishing second in the league and winning the German Cup final against Dortmund in 2015, they lost said players and had to replace them. Even though Julian Draxler is gifted like only a few other 22-year-olds in world football, I don't know if De Bruyne's shoes are too big to fill at the moment.

Fussball90. Mainz and Hertha are two new German teams in Europa League. Do you think they can be successful in the tournament or not? Mainz lost Loris Karius and captain Julian Baumgartlinger. Can they fill their blanks?

It wouldn't be the first time that so-called underdogs had qualified for the Europa League the year prior and then struggled to keep up against international competition. Hertha in particular could have a hard time to replicate last year's success. Mainz know the feeling of losing key players during the summer transfer window. And they know how to deal with it. Just look at the recent past. Shinji Okazaki went to Leicester, while Mainz signed Yoshinori Muto and later Jhon Cordoba. At the same time, Johannes Geis departed and Mainz reached agreements with Danny Latza and Fabian Frei. This time they may proof their talent for finding diamonds again, as the signed a talented centre-midfielder in José Rodríguez.

Fussball90. Ralph Hasenhuttl left Ingolstadt for Leipzig. Do you think he was the best choice for RBL? What will happen for Ingolstadt without him?

Given the system they played in the last season, Hasenhüttl is a perfect choice as he prefers a similar philosophy – namely focusing on aggressive pressing and high-volume transition style. He could take Leipzig to the next level by introducing a more refined and therefore more adaptable pressing system while not dropping the basic concept that has made Leipzig special.

Ingolstadt's newly appointed coach Markus Kauczinski does have potential to establish himself in the Bundesliga, although his work at Karlsruhe was hit and miss for the most part. So it won't be a walk in the park. Ingolstadt were able to keep the likes of Pascal Groß, Alfredo Morales and Mathew Leckie, which will certainly help them in their attempt to manifest their position in the league.

Fussball90. Do you think Admir Mehmedi will remain in Leverkusen? If he wants to leave Bay Arena, which team would be the best for him?

Julian Brandt will be part of Germany's Olympia squad. So I can imagine Leverkusen are interested in keeping Mehmedi as an option for the left-winger position. If Mehmedi leaves, he should join a team like Borussia M'Gladbach where he can either play as a winger or as a secondary striker in the middle.

Fussball90. What is the main target of RB Leipzig. Do you believe that they can be a real contender in next few years? Which position can they get this season? Can they qualify for Europe?

The end game is clear. RB Leipzig want to establish themselves as the third major player besides Bayern and Dortmund. That said, it will take time to accomplish that and the people in charge are aware of the challenge ahead of them. I think they will finish in midfield. Getting a spot for next year's Europa League would be a huge success. Achieving even more in their first season would be a sensation.

Fussball90. Who is the most loyal player of the Bundesliga? Name 5 if you can’t choose!

Phew, that's a tough one. A few relatively loyal players have retired recently. I would go with Roman Weidenfeller, Philipp Lahm, Alex Meier, Clemens Fritz and Stefan Kießling.

Fussball90. Who is the best player of Bundesliga? Name 5 players if you want!

The best goalkeeper is Manuel Neuer. Of course, he is. Jerome Boateng is the best defender, while David Alaba leads the full-back department. When not being injured, Thiago dominates in the middle, especially after Ilkay Gündogan moving to England. Arjen Robben should be considered the best winger in the league. So, these are the five best players, all of which are at Bayern. It can't be a coincidence they win the title fairly regularly…

Fussball90. Which team do you think will relegate this season?

I like the Darmstadt fairy tale, but with several key players and the coach gone they have only a slight chance to stay in the league – and they know it. There are a bunch of clubs that could struggle over the course of the season too – namely Frankfurt, Ingolstadt, Augsburg, Bremen and Freiburg.

Fussball90. Who is the best current sport director of Bundesliga? Why?

Bayern's Michael Reschke is a great football mind, though he does not really have the role of a sport director. That's why I would say Christian Heidel is the best sport director at the moment. He did a tremendous job at Mainz. He has all the tools to succeed in his new position at Schalke, although the club is known for scandals and internal turf battles.

Fussball90. Does Germany have plans for establishing some academies in all around the world? Can we have hopes for a German Academy in Iran?!

No plans that I know of. The Bundesliga will definitely continue their advertising and pr activities in Asia. China as well as India, Iran and some other countries offer big football markets that will still grow in the next decades. The Bundesliga wants to capitalise from the entertaining aspect of the matches and establish itself as the second player behind the Premier League. As for Iran, it would be great if there were a few Iranian players in the Bundesliga. Ashkan Dejagah played several years for Wolfsburg and Hertha, but he left Germany in 2012. Maybe the likes of Sardar Azmoun and Alireza Jahanbakhsh can join Bundesliga clubs in the near future.

 

You can follow Constantin Eckner on Twitter: @cc_eckner and read all his works at Spielverlagerung، The Yellow Wall Pod، Constantineckner، Outside of the boot، Focus.


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