After failing to land some of their targets for the position earlier this summer, Manchester United fans have been left wondering do the club even need a sporting director? After all, they didn’t have one in the past and it was never a problem before. However, football in 2019 is very different from Alex Ferguson’s time in the dugout, and a clever transfer chief is crucial for success on and off the pitch.
In recent years, one of the best examples of success is Eintracht Frankfurt, whose sporting director Fredi Bobic is the king of unearthing gems and signing undervalued players from inside and outside the Bundesliga. Just this summer, Frankfurt made their loan deal for Luka Jovic into a permanent one, but sold him on for a 900% profit just weeks later as Real Madrid signed the Serbian striker for €60 million.
Bobic brought Jovic in when he was rotting in Benfica’s reserves and immediately turned him into one of the best strikers in Germany – with the help of coaches Niko Kovac and Adi Hutter, of course. Similarly, Ante Rebic arrived on loan from Fiorentina in 2016 on loan and was later purchased for just €2m as part of the deal. He’s now worth at least 20 times that much and has played in the World Cup final.
In 2017, wing-back Danny da Costa was brought in for just €1m from Bayer Leverkusen while Gelson Fernandes cost less than €400,000. The following summer, Bobic spent a bit more in the transfer market, but still brought in half a dozen new players, including Evan N’Dicka, Carlos Salcedo, and Filip Kostic. The club also activated Marius Wolf’s purchase clause in his loan, signing him for €500,000 before taking exactly 10 times that much off Borussia Dortmund.
Therefore, Bobic’s activity this summer is being closely monitored as Eintracht Frankfurt look to re-invest some of the massive profit they got from Jovic’s Madrid move. Coincidentally, they have signed another Serbian striker, and one with a similar name. Dejan Joveljic arrived from Red Star Belgrade for €4m. The 19-year-old comes with European experience as well as a brilliant return in the Serbian SuperLiga where he averaged a goal every two games. Like predecessor Jovic, he’s comfortable with either foot and also with his head, but also provides an option out wide if needed.
Hutter’s midfield was also strengthened by the additions of Djibril Sow (a €9m signing from Young Boys Bern), Dominik Kohr (€10m from Bayer Leverkusen), and the arrival of Erik Durm after his contract with Huddersfield Town expired.
Sow played just one game for Borussia Monchengladbach as a 19-year-old before moving to Switzerland. There, he developed into an all-round midfielder and won a place in the Switzerland international squad. He helped Young Boys win their first title in 32 years and then added another the following season, and brings a winning mentality with him to Frankfurt.
Another of the summer’s arrivals is a winner, with Erik Durm part of the Germany squad who won the 2014 World Cup. His time in England with Huddersfield was disappointing, but he was available for free and is still just 27. The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder is the perfect sort of Bobic signing, having been overlooked by other teams in the transfer market.
Kohr found himself benched by new Bayer Leverkusen boss Peter Bosz in the second-half of last season, but brings experience of over 100 Bundesliga games to Frankfurt, having also played for Augsburg. The defensive midfielder could flourish in Eintracht’s 3-4-3 formation and can restart his career in Frankfurt.
Eintracht have strengthened well so far as they return to the Europa League and look to challenge for the top four again, but Bobic hasn’t finished spending yet and could add yet more unheralded talent before the end of the summer.