Probably the most explosive start of a sports director

Sebastian Kehl has lived a lot in over 20 years at Borussia Dortmund. During the summer break the former captain will be promoted to sporting director of the BVB. But although Kehl hasn’t officially taken over yet, the 42-year-old has long been in the thick of business. His premature start at work is also extremely turbulent.

On 1 July a new era begins at Borussia Dortmund: Michael Zorc retires from the position of sporting director of Borussia Dortmund. Zorc has spent the last 43 years with the Black and Yellows, with him the district club loses what is arguably the biggest sports pillar of the last few decades.

The 58-year-old, who could eventually switch to BVB’s supervisory board after a hiatus, has carefully built his legacy: Sebastian Kehl, who headed the licensed players department for around four years, has gained detailed insights into disposals. and contractual negotiations, will take his place. BVB gave him a three-year contract.

But even though that working document only comes into effect with the new season, Kehl has had to take on a lot of responsibilities in recent months. Whether it was TV appearances, interviews or relocation issues: Michael Zorc was increasingly leaving the field to his pupil.

Given the many, sometimes delicate, problems of Borussia, his departure before the start could not have been more explosive.

According to Haaland, Kehl becomes clear

On the one hand, there is the ongoing issue of Erling Haaland, with which BVB has been engaged for months. On the one hand, Kehl had to credibly sell to the public and their fans that the club was fighting to keep the best striker.

On the other hand, he had to moderate the many speculations about his transfer to other clubs. And since Haaland was in the center of media attention, BVB’s handling of the player was all the more highlighted.

Haaland himself caused the biggest stir when he claimed on camera in mid-January that he felt pressured by the club. At BVB, these statements immediately drew the entire management trio, made up of CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, sporting director Michael Zorc and Sebastian Kehl. In unison, they denied the club’s claims that Haaland had to make a timely decision for or against Borussia.

Kehl’s words were no less clear than those of the bosses: Haaland’s claims were “unfounded”, according to the growing sporting director.

Three best transfers to start with BVB

Instead, it was up to Kehl to carry out the necessary upheaval of the squad, which in turn can only be done thanks to the millions of Haaland’s transfer. The preliminary result: three players from the German national team are on their way to the new season, each of whom have decided to move to Dortmund despite other offers. According to the statements of BVB, these were even better equipped.

First, the runner-up made a real coup with the free transfer of Bayern defender Niklas Süle. Then you convinced his DFB colleague Nico Schlotterbeck, who comes from Freiburg for a whopping 20 million euros. The latest transfer hit is Karim Adeyemi, who is said to have been hired by RB Salzburg for around € 30 million.

The new BVB strongman has made no secret of the extent to which these transfers show the signing of Sebastian Kehl. “The transfers that are made are my transfers,” Kehl recently revealed to “Sport1” and at the same time honed his profile as a forge of the new team. This is now his “phase” of him, he has been “involved in all of Michael Zorc’s trials”.

One thing is clear: the steps of his mentor Zorc are enormous. Last but not least, this directed players like Haaland, Sancho, Dembélé, Aubameyang or Pulisic to BVB and then generated substantial transfer proceeds. The former midfielder is well connected in the world of football and is regarded as a valued negotiator by consultants and club managers.

Kehl gets in trouble

Zorc also built a reputation for himself in the public eye, as he was the main point of contact for all sporting trials. How much Kehl still has to grow in this exposed role as head of the second German football team was shown all too clearly when asked about the manager’s future.

After an untitled season and sometimes awkward performances in international and national cups, Marco Rose is under pressure. Kehl even fueled this impression by avoiding a clear engagement with Rose on “Sky”. He “assumes” that the BVB will continue with the former Gladbacher, and there was no clarification even when asked.

This followed the next day on the “Doppelpass” show, when Kehl replied, “I can clearly say it was totally unfortunate to have formulated it. It wasn’t on purpose.” He is planning preparations for the new season with Rose. It is clear that Sebastian Kehl will have to avoid these errors in the external presentation as much as possible from 1 July.

Regardless, according to a survey by, the three-time German champion is the right man: 85% of users think Kehl is the ideal crown prince. His work before actually starting as sporting director should have played an important role in this perception.

Gerrit Kleibohmer

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