Schmadtke will be perfect foil for Liverpool boss Klopp, says Meijer
Jorg Schmadtke was fined for throwing gum at Julian Nagelsmann and has rowed with coaches over players… Liverpool’s incoming new Sporting Director is not afraid to speak out, but Reds cult hero Erik Meijer says he will be perfect foil for Jurgen Klopp
There is laughter down the line when Erik Meijer is asked about the character of the man who will soon help execute Liverpool’s transfer policy.
Meijer became an Anfield cult hero thanks to a fiercely committed 18-month spell after leaving Bayer Leverkusen in 1999, so news this week that Jorg Schmadtke – his former Leverkusen team-mate – is poised to become Liverpool’s new Sporting Director, succeeding Julian Ward.
‘Ah, Jorg!’ Meijer tells Mail Sport. ‘Well, Jorg was a goalie and you know goalies – they think a bit different! I’d be with him a lot, he was a hard trainer. He used to wear fancy, colourful shirts and you always knew he was around. He was never afraid to give an opinion.’
Stories about Schmadtke are plentiful. One from his time as Cologne’s Sporting Director is about how he was fined £8000 for throwing chewing gum at the then Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann in 2016. Schmadtke broke the ice next time he saw by giving him a packet to say sorry.
There have been rows with coaches such as Oliver Glasner at Wolfsburg and Mirko Slomka in Hannover over recruitment and Meijer, who is now an analyst for Sky in Germany, acknowledges that there are times when diplomacy isn’t always Schmadtke’s first resort.
Jorg Schamadtke is in advanced talks to become the new sporting director at Liverpool
Schmadtke expected to sign a deal until 2026 – the same time that Jurgen Klopp’s deal expires
Anfield cult hero Erik Meijer (L) says Schmadtke will be perfect foil for Liverpool boss Klopp
‘If you want to be good, you have to be hard,’ he says. ‘Sometimes other people don’t like that.’
Jurgen Klopp, however, will not be in the least bit flustered by it. It is not unusual he has looked to Germany to make a big appointment to Liverpool’s technical staff and Schmadtke will be aware of the role he has to play during the final three years of the manager’s reign.
Meijer, now 53, believes he will be a perfect foil for Klopp and slot into a recruitment team in which Barry Hunter and Dave Fallows remain integral parts; they have been working with Ward, who succeeded Michael Edwards, on targets for the coming window.
Though there has been no official announcement from the club, talks have continued to advance for Schmadtke and Liverpool’s wish is that he is in place to start when the market opens at the start of June.
‘Most of all, Jorg was always a smart guy, very intelligent,’ says Meijer. ‘Every club he has worked at, from Aachen to Wolfsburg, always had a high period but they never did it by spending lots of money.
‘Aachen were in the second division when I went there (2003); Jorg said: “come here, we will have some fun!” – he was right. Within 12 months, we had got to the German Cup final (losing 3-2 to Werder Bremen).’
Meijer adds: ‘Jorg finds managers that can make clubs better and players that managers can make better. And that is what Jurgen Klopp loves – players you can make better. He never wants the finished article, he much prefers being with those who know their best days are in front of them.
‘Jurgen, I believe, respects him a lot. He wants people around him that are the best at their jobs. Jurgen has never said knows the answers for everything. He doesn’t want people who will just say “yes” or do what he says. Jorg is his own man and not afraid to speak out when he has a strong view.
Schmadtke turned out for his local side Fortuna Dusseldorg as well as Freiburg and Leverkusen
He was fined for throwing chewing gum at the then Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann
‘If you look at Jorg, he always seems to have a stern face, like he is waiting to criticise, but that is just him wanting the very best he can get from a situation. He is always looking for perfection, if that is possible. Sometimes it means he has to be hard with what he says but he isn’t afraid to speak out.’
It will be fascinating to see how the summer pans out for Liverpool, who need to bolster their midfield, and Meijer – a popular character in Gerard Houllier’s dressing room – will be a keen observer.
‘I will always watch Liverpool,’ says Meijer. ‘They are a part of my life. If you get goose bumps when you hear
then you know the club is in your blood. I was very proud that I could play there. I hope Jorg helps makes us champions again.’
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