February 22, 2017

Bayer Leverkusen Talking to Mainz Trainer Martin Schmidt?

German football authority kicker reported Friday morning that representatives of Bayer Leverkusen 04 have initiated contact with 1. FSV Mainz 05 trainer Martin Schmidt.

With the Werkself lingering consistently in the middle of the Bundesliga table all season, the performance of current boss Roger Schmidt falls under increasingly tighter scrutiny, even as he prepares his squad for a Champions League knockout match next week.

Since arriving at Leverkusen in the summer of 2014, Schmidt’s offensive philosophy has been largely met with praise. Despite Leverkusen’s domestic struggles, Schmidt is considered a candidate for a future move to the English Premier League.

“I’m contracted with Leverkusen until 2019, but if it was possible in the future to be a manager of an English football team, it would be very interesting for me,” said Schmidt to English tabloid The Mirror last fall. “But at the moment, I am very happy where I am.”

With Leverkusen officials having reportedly discussed luring Julian Nagelsmann away from TSG Hoffenheim 1899 and now the (alleged) contact with Schmidt, it appears that the length of Schmidt’s current deal may be a barrier to a move across the water for not much longer.

Leverkusen currently sits ninth in the table and seven points behind the Champions League qualification-round slot. Having scored the fifth-most goals (31) has been offset by the league’s seventh-most-generous defense, which has conceded 29 times.

Having followed last season’s third-place finish with a €42 million splurge to add Kevin Volland, Aleksandar Dragovic, and Julian Baumgartlinger, there was talk of the club asserting itself into the Bayern-Dortmund dynamic at the top of the Bundesliga. Instead, Sporting Director Rudi Völler appears ready to move on from the Roger Schmidt era.

But is Martin Schmidt the man for Bayer?

When he was promoted from the U21 squad to take over for Kaspar Hjulmund in February of 2015, Schmidt inherited a squad that was trending toward a relegation fight and kept them near the middle of the table. He followed that with a sixth-place finish in his first full season, earning Mainz a trip to Europa League.

For his part, the 49-year-old Swiss trainer seems contented at Mainz, where he as worked since 2010. Despite losing major contributors over the summer in goalkeeper Loris Karius and the aforementioned defensive midfielder Baumgartlinger, Mainz is again a strong contender for a European finish, currently sitting in that familiar sixth place.

Martin Schmidt’s current contract runs into 2018.

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Randall Hauk is a freelance writer living in the United States while covering German football. He is currently the publisher of Planet Effzeh, an English-language site covering 1. FC Köln. He wrote about the German national team for the Telegraph as part of their World Cup Nation coverage.

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