In the away game at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, SC Freiburg is fighting in a long-distance duel with Union Berlin (who receives Werder Bremen) for the last open qualifying spot for the Champions League. In the run-up to the Bundesliga final, SC coach Christian Streich spoke in detail about squad planning for the coming season and made it clear that “no wild works” will be done at the Breisgauers in the summer.
With Jonathan Schmid and Nils Petersen, two departures at the end of the season are certain for Freiburg, who have already qualified for the Europa League in fifth place. Kevin Schade, who was loaned out to FC Brentford, will also not return in view of the Englishman’s rumored purchase obligation of 25 million euros. Furthermore, the sale of goalkeeper Mark Flekken to the ‘Bees’ is all but certain, with the Dutchman’s release clause reportedly set at €13m. Despite the fresh money that the SC will get from these transfers in the summer, the Bundesliga club is striving to preserve the club’s “identity” in the coming transfer window.
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And that means first and foremost: When it comes to squad planning, you build on your own foundation and will not leave the “Freiburg way”, says coach Streich. In the internal league expenditure ranking of the past ten seasons, the club from the Black Forest ranks 17th with EUR 139.79 million invested. The retiring Schade and Schmid, as well as the national players Matthias Ginter and Christian Günter, are positive examples of how SC specially trained players to the highest level. Homegrown player and U21 national keeper Noah Atubolu is likely to replace Flekken, who is expected to leave.
“We are overjoyed when the boys in the football school are looked after by the teachers and coaches in such a way that they are able to play in the Bundesliga, that’s a gift for us, that’s our identity,” said Streich. Although you are now competing on an international level with significantly larger and financially stronger clubs, you would have “no chance” in view of such investor conditions as in England, for example, if you were to compete for coveted top stars: “In the long run you will bleed dry, because of that, the football school is an absolute elixir of life for us.”
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In view of the increased expectations, squad planning is always “a balancing act. (…) It’s important that we coaches stay reasonable, keep our identity – I’m not making any claims. (…) We can’t promise anyone that next year we’ll be anywhere near as successful as this year – no matter what we do,” explained the 57-year-old and warned of the national competition: “A club has just been relegated, with an unbelievable budget.”
Even long-time SC professionals have repeatedly suggested to him: “Coaches, we must under no circumstances deviate from our path.” Even with transfer offers that are regularly made to the SC, but do not correspond to this path, one remains steadfast, said sports director Klemens Hartenbach know: “We want maximum success – but with our resources.”
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