The tears have dried, Schalke 04 is looking ahead again. After relegation, the club faces major challenges.
Peter Knäbel entered the “Kasino” arena box with a wry smile, but the Schalke 04 sporting director had only brought mild news in his dark bag. The descent was “a turning point,” Knäbel said in a press conference on Whit Monday, but the upheaval would not be “so big” because we have greater financial stability and planning security in terms of personnel.
The club can “build on a good base”, explained the 56-year-old, the contract portfolio has “a high quality for the 2nd division”. In particular, Knäbel listed goalkeepers Ralf Fährmann, Rodrigo Zalazar, Sebastian Polter, Danny Latza and Dominick Drexler. It would also be very important for top scorer Marius Bülter to stay.
The sports director announced that further personnel decisions should be made by the end of the week. Above all, talks are planned with loan players such as Sepp van den Berg and Moritz Jenz. “I just can’t promise that we’ll get these players,” Knäbel remarked.
The negotiations with the two central defenders, who had impressed in the second half of the season, could turn into a gamble. He still has “a little hope” with the Dutchman, said Knäbel, but things are looking worse for top performer Jenz.
Schalke 04: squad budget is halved
And yet: “Of course we’re trying to improve,” promised Knäbel, whose poker skills are now more in demand than ever. The squad budget will probably be halved from around 40 million to 20 million euros, there is not much money left for reinforcements. Nevertheless, the upheaval is not as great as after the last relegation season.
Schalke want to lure with emotions and togetherness. “We experienced an unbelievable moment when the team and the support team in Leipzig were in the curve,” enthused Knäbel. The crying S04 professionals were raised by their fans after the 2: 4 (1: 2) at RB.
The Knappen are now going into the 2nd division “ambitiously because we know which club we represent,” said Knäbel: “We made this unspoken promise in the curve.” Nevertheless, Knäbel also knows “how tough the second division is, what kind of chunks are waiting for us”.
That’s why the club has “no illusions at all,” said the sports director and made it clear: “As Schalke 04 we can’t go in without ambitions, so we want to get involved from the start.”