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Bundesliga News

Reports: Mintzlaff considers Hitzlsperger and Heldt for sporting director position

By Peter Vice

RB Leipzig boss Oliver Mintzlaff has made clear in recent weeks that the club definitely plans on hiring a sporting director to replace the departed Markus Krösche. 

Some potential candidates for the position are beginning to crop up. 

Thomas Hitzlsperger.
Thomas Hitzlsperger.Photo: Dictum Media, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Oliver Mintzlaff, licensing director Frank Aehlig, commercial director Florian Scholz, and technical director Christopher Vivell have all been working together as a joint-committee since Markus Krösche left the sporting director position at the club vacant by moving to Eintracht Frankfurt over the summer. Together, the quartet have scored some major personnel coups and managed to put together a competent transfer window.

The need for a single individual to fill the position nevertheless remains acute. As Mintzlaff explained in an interview with Germany's Sport Bild some weeks back, new trainer Jesse Marsch needs someone with whom he can work directly with in order to build the squad.

"It's clear that we need to bring in a sporting director," Mintzlaff said, "We need this position for our team. [Everyone] did a good job during the transfer phase, but we require other skills. A sporting director should be close to the team. Ideally, a former player who thinks along the lines that we do, complies with our philosophy, brings with him an extensive international network, and has already held the position for several years at another club."

This long list of qualifications cannot be so easily filled. According to the Leipziger Volkzeitung, however, the club currently considers two of the more prominent names on the market. Former Schalke, Hannover 96, and 1. FC Köln boss Horst Heldt remains without a job after being released by die Geißböcke at the end of last season.

It's also possible that Stuttgart's Thomas Hitzlsperger, who finally tendered his dated resignation after a prolonged fight with club President Claus Vogt over a data-leaks scandal this week, might be in the running. Hitzlsperger isn't scheduled to step down until after the season, but could still make the move to the German Red Bulls.

The local paper also floats the name of Hitzlsperger's former teammate Mario Gomez. The former national team striker expressed his desire to serve in a footballing administrative role this week. Germany's main sporting tabloid confirms that Gomez has been in talks with Mintzlaff, but claims the contact isn't related to the sporting director position.

Slightly under-fire RB trainer Jesse Marsch has endorsed the idea of bringing in a main personnel manager.

"For a coach, the goal is to always operate on the same wavelength as the sporting director," Marsch said this week, "Both have to agree on what is needed and how the team can be taken forward. I've had such relationships with sporting directors in the past and found it super."

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