Probably the most explosive start of a sports director

Probably the most explosive start of a sports director
Written by insideindyhomes

Sebastian Kehl has experienced a lot in over 20 years at Borussia Dortmund. During the summer break, the ex-captain will be promoted to BVB sports director. But although Kehl hasn’t officially taken over yet, the 42-year-old has long been in the middle of the business. His premature start to the job is also extremely turbulent.

A new era begins at Borussia Dortmund on July 1: Michael Zorc retires as sporting director at Borussia Dortmund. Zorc spent the past 43 years with the Black and Yellows, with him the district club loses what is probably the biggest pillar in the sporting field in recent decades.

The 58-year-old, who could possibly move up to the BVB supervisory board after a break, has carefully built up his legacy: Sebastian Kehl, who has been head of the licensed player department for around four years, has gained detailed insights into transfers and contract negotiations, will take over his position. BVB gave him a three-year contract.

But even though that working paper only takes effect with the new season, Kehl has had to take on a lot of responsibility in recent months. Whether it was TV appearances, interviews or transfer matters: Michael Zorc increasingly left the field to his pupil.

In view of the many, sometimes sensitive, issues at Borussia, his start before the start could not have been more explosive.

According to Haaland, Kehl becomes clear

On the one hand, there is the ongoing issue of Erling Haaland, which BVB has been busy with for months. On the one hand, Kehl had to credibly sell the public and their own fans that the club was fighting to keep the best attacker.

On the other hand, he had to moderate the many speculations about his move to other clubs. And since Haaland was the center of attention in the media, BVB’s handling of the player was all the more highlighted.

Haaland himself caused the biggest stir when he claimed in front of the camera in mid-January that he felt pressured by the club. At BVB, these statements immediately pulled the entire management trio, consisting of managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke, sports director Michael Zorc and Sebastian Kehl. In unison, they denied the club’s demands that Haaland had to make a timely decision for or against Borussia.

Kehl’s words were no less clear than those of the bosses: Haaland’s statements were “unfounded”, according to the growing sports director.

Three top transfers to start with BVB

On the other hand, it was up to Kehl to push ahead with the due squad upheaval – which in turn can only be done thanks to the millions from the Haaland transfer. The preliminary result: Three German national players are coming to the new season, each of whom decided to join Dortmund despite other offers. According to statements by BVB, these were even better endowed.

First, the runners-up managed a real coup with the free transfer of Bayern defender Niklas Süle. Then you convinced his DFB colleague Nico Schlotterbeck, who comes from Freiburg for a reported 20 million euros. The latest transfer success is Karim Adeyemi, who is said to have been signed by RB Salzburg for around 30 million euros.

The new strongman at BVB made no secret of the extent to which these transfers show the signature of Sebastian Kehl. “The transfers that are made are my transfers,” Kehl recently revealed to “Sport1” and at the same time sharpened his own profile as the new squad forge. This is now his “phase”, he was “involved in all processes at Michael Zorc”.

One thing is clear: the footsteps of his mentor Zorc are huge. Last but not least, this steered players like Haaland, Sancho, Dembélé, Aubameyang or Pulisic to BVB in order to then generate substantial transfer proceeds. The former midfielder is well connected in the football business, and he is considered a valued negotiator by consultants and club officials.

Kehl maneuvers himself into trouble

Zorc also built up a reputation in the public eye, as he was the main contact person for all sporting processes. How much Kehl still has to grow in this exposed role as the person responsible for the second largest German football club was shown all too clearly when asked about the future of the head coach.

After a season without a title and sometimes embarrassing performances in international and national cup competitions, Marco Rose is under pressure. Kehl even fueled this impression by avoiding a clear commitment to Rose on “Sky”. He “assumes” that BVB will continue with the ex-Gladbacher, and there was no clarification even when asked.

This followed the next day on the show “Doppelpass”, when Kehl rowed back: “I can clearly say that it was totally unfortunate that I phrased it. It wasn’t on purpose.” He is planning the preparations for the new season with Rose. It is clear that Sebastian Kehl will have to avoid these mistakes in external presentation as much as possible from July 1st.

Irrespective of this, according to a survey, the three-time German champion is the right man: 85 percent of users think Kehl is the ideal crown prince. His work before actually starting as sports director should have played a large part in this perception.

Gerrit Kleiböhmer


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