Probably the most explosive start to a sports director

Sebastian Kehl has experienced a lot for over 20 years at Borussia Dortmund. During the summer break, the ex-captain is promoted to BVB sports director. But even though Kehl has not officially taken over yet, the 42-year-old has long been in the middle of the industry. His premature start at work is also extremely turbulent.

A new era begins in Borussia Dortmund on July 1: Michael Zorc retires as sporting director of Borussia Dortmund. Zorc spent the last 43 years with the blacks and yellows, with him losing the district club, which is probably the biggest pillar in the field of sports in recent decades.

The 58-year-old, who could possibly step up to BVB’s board after a break, has carefully built up his legacy: Sebastian Kehl, who has been head of the licensing department for about four years, has gained detailed insight into transfers and contract negotiations, taking over his position. BVB gave him a three-year contract.

But even though that working paper only comes into force with the new season, Kehl has had to take on a lot of responsibility in recent months. Whether it was TV appearances, interviews or transfer cases: Michael Zorc increasingly left the pitch to his student.

In view of the many, at times sensitive, problems in Borussia, his start before the start could not have been more explosive.

According to Haaland, Kehl will be ready

On the one hand, there is the ongoing edition of Erling Haaland, which BVB has been busy with for months. On the one hand, Kehl had to credibly sell to the public and their own fans that the club was struggling to retain the best striker.

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

Haaland himself caused the biggest uproar when, in front of the camera in mid-January, he claimed that he felt pressured by the club. At BVB, these statements immediately drew the entire management trio, consisting of CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, Sports Director Michael Zorc and Sebastian Kehl. In chorus, they rejected the club’s demand that Haaland make a timely decision for or against Borussia.

Kehl’s words were no less clear than those of the managers: Haaland’s statements were “unfounded”, according to the growing sports director.

Three top transfers to start with BVB

On the other hand, it was up to Kehl to push on with the proper troop upheaval – which again can only be done thanks to the millions from the Haaland transfer. The preliminary result: Three German national players come to the new season, who each decided to join Dortmund despite other offers. According to BVB statements, these were even better equipped.

First, second place managed a real coup with Bayern defender Niklas Süle’s free transfer. Then you convinced his DFB colleague Nico Schlotterbeck, who comes from Freiburg for 20 million euros. The latest transfer success is Karim Adeyemi, who is said to have been signed by RB Salzburg for around 30 million euros.

The new strong man at BVB made no secret of the extent to which these transfers show Sebastian Kehl’s signature. “The transfers that are being made are my transfers,” Kehl recently revealed to “Sport1”, while sharpening his own profile as the new troop smith. This is now his “phase”, he was “involved in all the processes of Michael Zorc”.

One thing is clear: his mentor Zorc’s footprints are huge. Last but not least, this led players like Haaland, Sancho, Dembélé, Aubameyang or Pulisic to BVB to then generate significant transfer revenue. The former midfielder is well connected in the football industry and he is considered a valued trader by consultants and club leaders.

Kehl maneuvers himself into trouble

Zorc also built a reputation in the public eye as he was the primary contact person for all sporting processes. How much Kehl still needs to grow in this vulnerable role as head of the second-largest German football club was made all too clear when asked about the future of the head coach.

After a season without a title and sometimes embarrassing performances in international and national cup tournaments, Marco Rose is under pressure. Kehl even nurtured this impression by avoiding a clear commitment to Rose on “Sky.” He “assumes” that BVB will continue with ex-Gladbacher and there was no clarification even when asked.

This followed the day after in the show “Doppelpass”, when Kehl rowed back: “I can clearly say that it was totally unfortunate that I formulated it. It was not on purpose.” He is planning preparations for the new season with Rose. It is clear that Sebastian Kehl should, as far as possible, avoid these errors in the external presentation from 1 July.

Regardless, according to a survey, the triple German champion is the right man: 85 percent of users believe that Kehl is the ideal crown prince. His work before he actually started as a sports director should have played a big role in this perception.

Gerrit Kleiböhmer

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