News: Favre Extends at Gladbach, Barnetta to Schalke

Borussia Mönchengladbach have extended the contract of Coach Lucien Favre for another five years, ending any speculation that the Swiss tactician would be moving to another club.  Another Swiss native, midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta, has signed with Schalke 04.  Eintracht Frankfurt have scooped up SpVgg Greuther Fürth’s Canadian goal-scorer Olivier Occean, while reports are that Bayern München are eyeing Sami Khedira and Athletic Bilboa youngster Javi Martinez.  The schedule for the first six matchdays of the Bundesliga season has been released.

Borussia Mönchengladbach Extended Favre Contract

Lucien Favre, the 54 year-old Swiss native, has been inked to a five-year contract extension at Borussia Mönchengladbach.  Favre, who signed to lead Gladbach out of the depths of the relegation zone on February 14, 2011, has taken the Foals from the brink of demotion during the 2010/2011 season to earning a Champions League playoff spot following last year’s campaign.

That Favre guided Gladbach from a league-low 10 point Hinrunde in the 2010/2011 to safety after yielding 47 goals in their first 17 matches was miracle enough, but last year’s Gladbach team ranked second in goals allowed with only 24 for the season, just behind Bayern München’s miserly 22 goals allowed.  Gladbach earned their Champions League spot for the upcoming season by finishing in the Bundesliga’s fourth spot in the table, six points ahead of Bayer Leverkusen, after challenging for the top place in the league much of the season.

It was feared that Favre may be lured to a bigger club following the outstanding work performed with the Foals in the last year and a half, especially following the transfer loss to stars Marco Reus and Dante, as both Bayern and French club Marseille were considered to be suitors for Favre’s talents.  Those fears now have been put to rest.

Favre stated that

I have been in talks for a long time with the club’s board and management and am pleased about having signed a contract extension and the delightful challenges that lie ahead of us

Following his career as a midfielder with Toulouse and several Swiss clubs, Favre began his coaching career with FC Echallens before being named Academy Manager at Neuchâtel Xamax FC.  The former Swiss international also coached Swiss clubs Yverdon-Sport FC, Servette FC and FC Zurich before taking over the reins at Hertha Berlin in June, 2007.

Barnetta to Schalke

Midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta has signed a three-year contract with FC Schalke 04, joining the Gelsenkirchen club on a free transfer.  The 27 year-old Swiss international missed much of last season due to injury.

Barnetta joined Bayer 04 Leverkusen in January, 2004 after beginning his career at hometown club FC Gallen.  He made almost 200 Bundesliga appearancesvfor Die Werkself, scoring 25 goals while adding 41 assists, but last season only made three starts and four substitute appearances for Leverkusen.  Barnetta has also earned over 60 caps for the Swiss national team. featuring in the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup tournaments.

Schalke Sporting Director Horst Heidt on the Swiss midfielder

We’re delighted that Tranquillo has opted to join our club.  He has an enormous quality and is very versatile, which he has already proven for Leverkusen as well as the Swiss national team. Furthermore we had the opportunity to sign him on a free transfer

Eintracht Frankfurt Acquire Occean

Canadian striker Olivier Occean will make his German top-tier debut this season not with the team he helped gain promotion, SpVgg Greuther Fürth, but with one of the other two second-division clubs that also gained promotion, Eintracht Frankfurt.  Fürth ended last season atop 2. Bundesliga, two points ahead of runners-up Frankfurt.

The 6’1″ Canadian joins Die Adler on a three-year deal.  Occean, 30, scored 17 goals for the Cloverleaves last season to tie for the 2. Bundesliga lead with Alexander Meier of Eintracht Frankfurt and Nick Proschwitz of SC Paderborn 07.  The Quebec native made his German club debut during the 2010/2011 in 3. Liga with Kickers Offenbach after playing in Norway with Odd Grenland and Lillestrom.

According to Frankfurt Sporting Director Bruno Hubner

As an aerially powerful, towering striker Olivier meets all the requirements set forth by head coach Armin Veh. We’re delighted that with Occean we’ve managed to sign another player from our head coach’s wish list

Occean has also made 26 international appearances for Canada, scoring six times.  In June he scored Canada’s only goal in their 1-0 win over Cuba in a 2014 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match.

Bayern München Considering Khedira, Martinez

Bayern München have already added six new players and a new Sporting Director, Mattias Sammer, as they gear up for the challenges that saw them finish as bridesmaids in the league, the Pokal and the Champions League last season.  Now Spanish newspaper Sport reports that the Bavarians are looking to sign Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira, the former Stuttgart player who was arguably the best player for the German NT in the recently concluded 2012 Euro tournament.

Sport continued that Real Madrid mainman Jose Mourinho would be unwilling to let Khedira leave the Spanish giants unless Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger would be made available to Real Madrid.  Khedira. 25, has played in 82 matches in all competitions since joining Los Merengues two seasons  ago.

Martinez, 23, has featured both in midfield and center back for Athletic Bilbao, playing in over 200 matches for Bilbao since signed from Osasuna as a 17 year-old in the summer of 2006, for a transfer fee of 6 million euros.  The 6’3″ Spanish international also made cameo appearances for champions Spain in the 2010 World Cup and the recent 2012 Euros.

New Bayern München Sporting Director Matthias Sammer commented

I know Javi Martinez pretty well as a player, but I intend to get to know him really well. The people at Bayern who have been monitoring him are of the opinion that he is very good. Let’s just wait and see what happens.He has a lot of quality, but quality comes at a price. That’s why he is quite expensive. One can always make some crazy signings, but nothing unreasonable. We have a certain responsibility toward the club.

It’s believed the transfer fee demanded for Martinez’ services would be in the 40 million euro range.

DFL Announces Specific MatchDay Dates and Times 

The Deutsche Fußball Liga has announced the specific playing dates and times for the first six matchdays of the upcoming season for the top-tier and the first eight matchdays for second division clubs.  The Friday August 24 opener fixtures features champions Borussia Dortmund hosting Thomas Schaaf’s Werder Bremen club, while the 2. Bundesliga season kicks off three weeks earlier, on Friday August 3rd, with three matches featuring FC Ingolstadt-Energie Cottbus and  Erzgebirge Aue-FC St. Pauli in the early matches and Hertha Berlin-Paderborn in the later Friday fixture.

 

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Gerry Wittmann

Gerry is the founder of the Bundesliga Fanatic. Besides loving German football, he also enjoys the NBA, collecting jerseys and LPs, his pets and wishes he had more time for fishing, bicycling and learning the bass guitar.

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