Looking back positively on a window with 45 transfers

Tuesday evening saw the closing of the summer transfer window in Germany and many major European nations. For Schalke 04, it brings an end to a period which saw a lot of player changes following the club’s relegation to the second division. A total of 30 players have left, some upon expiration of loan deals, some permanently, some have headed out on loan. At the same time, 15 players have come in.

“I’ve personally never experienced a rebuild of this scale before,” said sporting director Rouven Schröder, who, together with his staff, has been dealing with additions and departures almost around the clock in recent weeks, having to keep an eye on both the financial and sporting interests of the club.

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and the resulting change in opportunities for most clubs, negotiating the transfer market for both incomings and outgoings was much more difficult than under normal circumstances. “At times, there were very few to no movements,” said Schröder, who was still able to finalise the departures of Matthew Hoppe (RCD Mallorca), Ozan Kabak (Norwich City) and Amine Harit (Olympique Marseille) in the final days of the window. The latter two players were not included in the current season’s squad for financial reasons. Schröder also explained how the pair had different sporting aims for their future. “We have overseen over 30 transfers, not including the players who left upon expiration of their contracts. To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure we could do it all either. A big thank you goes to the whole team lead, André Hechelmann and René Grotus. It was truly a mammoth task.”

I’ve personally never experienced a rebuild of this scale before.

Rouven Schröder

Peter Knäbel, board member for sport and communication, who was part of the team that had already begun the squad restructuring in the spring before Schröder was officially appointed on 1st June, explained that the club had achieved the best possible outcome from the window in terms of outgoings. “We found good solutions with a lot of players, both for the players and for the club,” said the 54-year-old.

Exemplary teamwork between sporting and financial leadership

Knäbel is also pleased with the new arrivals, who have given the team a new look. “Rouven Schröder and his team have done a fantastic job. The recent 3-1 win against Fortuna Düsseldorf showed that the team represent Schalke 04 with passion and pride. The many pieces of the puzzle are coming together better and better.” Praise also goes to the newly-structured scouting department. “We planned on a squad under the somewhat complicated conditions and it has quickly become identifiable with Schalke.”

The interaction between the sporting management and the finance department was also exemplary, underlined Knäbel. “Christina Rühl-Hamers, Rouven Schröder and I were in constant communication and openly communicated what was financially possible and justifiable. Right from the start, the Board set itself the goal of always acting in an economically sensible manner – and that’s what we managed to do.”

The club now has until 15th September to submit documents to the DFL proving that it has met the imposed licensing requirements. “The same thing that we have declared several times in the past months continues to apply: We will fulfill the conditions,” said Christina Rühl-Hamers, Director of Finance, Human Resources and Legal. The new coordination process between sports and finance teams, which was introduced at the beginning of the summer, was an elementary building block, said Rühl-Hamers, before complimenting Knäbel. “Peter, Rouven and the rest of the team have done an outstanding job. A big compliment goes to them. However, I make no secret of the fact that this is only the first step on a long journey. We have not been able to achieve the revenue that we would have optimally hoped for in this transfer market reeling from the impact of the pandemic. We still have many more tasks and challenges ahead of us, which we must continue to solve wisely from a both a sporting and financial point of view. We are working on this together.”

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