Rosen: ''It's a question of credibility''

The arrival of international fixtures after Matchday 3 brings about a pause in the Bundesliga season. The summer transfer window came to a close this past Monday. Alexander Rosen, Director of Football at TSG Hoffenheim, can now take time to reflect on a busy and exciting few months in which the club broke various of its transfer records. Joelinton’s move to the Premier League with Newcastle United saw TSG receive more for a single player than ever before, while Diadie Samassékou became the most expensive signing in club history. The 120 million euros generated from outgoing transfers set a further record, while a total of eight new players touched down in the Kraichgau.

What do these figures mean for you Alex?

''It's never been about registering record transfer revenue. Instead, our focus has always been on assembling a competitive and exciting squad for each new season, all while staying true to our philosophy. I'm confident that, through close cooperation with the coach, the managing directors and the owner, we've managed to strike the balance once more this past transfer window. TSG Hoffenheim has been financially self-sustaining for a number of years now. We're an established and recognised member of the league, we boast an innovative and modern infrastructure, a growing number of committed supporters and a highly-motivated team of experts who are constantly striving to bring the club forward every day.''

There have nonetheless been critical voices in the media, claiming that that the upheaval caused by the departures of Schulz, Demirbay, Joelinton and Amiri could cost the club this season.

''I just see this as evidence of the different way in which the club is now perceived. We're honoured to be the focus of so much attention, analysis and lively discussion. We've always been open to constructive criticism from outside. It gives us reason to pause for reflection and look for ways to continue our development. I will always repeat what I've already said several times this transfer window, and that is: we can take stock of the situation from an objective and realistic perspective. As has been the case over the past few years, we've stayed one hundred percent true to our fundamental principles, to our club philosophy. Up till now, our policy of signing talented young players, who are full of promise and eager to prove themselves, has always ensured that we've been able to satisfy our fans by playing passionate and entertaining football. We've had many players on our books who, when they first arrived, had little in the way of recognition, but now, after being promoted and developed by us, are well-known names in the world of football. I'm thinking of Firmino, Volland, Schulz, Joelinton, to name just a few. People have called us crazy many times over the past few years, and it's always been for the same reasons. First, for signing some unknown young player, and then again, a second time, when we choose to sell them on. I'd also like to emphasise the fact that we never treat our players like commodities. There are lots of different elements at play in a transfer. It's not just about the economic interest of the club, there's also the personal preferences of the player. In addition, the right decisions have to be made in light of the contract situation, such as how long it has left to run etc. Last but not least, reason and the human sense of intuition also come into play. All of these things come together to form a package, which is sometimes accepted and sometimes isn't. I can understand some of the criticism we've faced, but, at the end of the day, it's solely the people who are actually involved in the transfer that know the ins and outs and are really in a position to weigh up the different sides. Moreover, for a club of our size, it's absolutely essential that we continue along this path in order to invest in infrastructure and new economic opportunities.''

Right before the transfer window closed, Leo Bittencourt moved to Bremen and Vincenzo Grifo went to Freiburg. It's safe to say that both of these transfers came as something of a surprise...

''Both of these transfers are prime examples of what I was just talking about. It's important to know what's going on behind the scenes. We also hadn't planned these transfers at the start of the season. Nonetheless, both players obviously had their own ideas about how they wanted their careers to progress. That's normal, and completely in order. When we signed both of them, we also had a certain vision of how we hoped they would develop as players. But sometimes a situation gets to the point where you have to sit back and ask whether or not everything's gone according to plan. I can say, on behalf of the club: Leo and Vince would have continued to get the chance to play their way into contention, despite the fact things maybe hadn't gone as they'd hoped before. Particularly with Vince, both sides were, until recently, very optimistic that things would go better this season. Just a few weeks ago, Vince told us that he'd never felt happier during his footballing career and that he was determined to finally break through at ''his'' club. We were all really confident, but then after being substituted in the DFB-Cup and put on the bench for the first Bundesliga match, it seemed like his desire to be here just vanished. As for Leo, he endured a disappointing second half of last season. Both players came to us and made it clear that they wanted to talk about their futures. We were happy to engage in this discussion. It soon became clear to us that both players would prefer to move elsewhere in what remained of the transfer window rather than try to improve their situation here at TSG. After coming to financial agreements which satisfied us, we took the final decision to approve both transfers.''

Is it true that Vincenzo Grifo will play no part when SC Freiburg visit the PreZero Arena on the next Bundesliga matchday (Sunday 15 September, 15:30 CET)?

''I have a policy of never talking about contracts, but, as the contents of this particular agreement are no longer secret, I'm going to make an exception here. I can understand why certain people, mainly SC Freiburg supporters, are unhappy about this clause, but it was actually something that was agreed on by the two clubs without much in the way of long discussions. What is more, no-one knows enough about what has happened in the past few weeks to be able to comment. I can assure you that this particular agreement was brought about by an exceptional situation, the likes of which we've never had in the past nor hope to see in the future. Despite the criticism we've received, some of which has been fierce, we would act in the exact same way if put through the same situation again. It's a question of credibility and taking a stance against certain behaviour. It remains a complete mystery to me how someone can completely change their stance within the space of just two weeks, going from claiming they're in the happiest phase of their footballing career to forcing a move away. I have a high opinion of Vince, both as a player and a man, and both myself and my counterparts at SC Freiburg - Christian Streich, Jochen Saier, Klemens Hartenbach and Oliver Leki - hold each other in high esteem. But we thought it was absolutely out of the question to allow Vince to play against us in these circumstances: at our home ground in Sinsheim, wearing a Freiburg jersey, just 12 days after the transfer. With all due respect, I'd like to point out that we've had many players move away having left a strong mark on the history of the club. Just look at our last game, against Leverkusen, in which we faced Volland, Amiri and Demirbay - three of the greatest players from our time in the Bundesliga. Not for one second did we think about a similar clause for any of these players, so suggestions that we put this particular clause in Vince's transfer due to fear of facing him are frankly laughable. Once again, I'd like to stress that it was about having credibility and showing a certain attitude and responsibility towards our own fans. I want to leave it at that.''

TSG have picked up four points from their first three games. What have you made of the way the team have started the season?

''In preseason, many people asked me if I thought our first run of matches - against Frankfurt, Bremen and Leverkusen - was going to be a tough way to get the season underway. To give an answer now: yes, it definitely was. But we certainly showed what we're capable of and got more points on the board than we had at the same point last season. I'm particularly pleased in light of the fact that we have a lot of players just coming back from injury who haven't quite got fully into the swing of things just yet. We're in a rebuilding stage right now and have a lot of room to improve. I'll repeat myself once more: this is such a promising young side, but they need time to grow together. We're going to give them the time they need. I have high hopes for the new arrivals, and I'm confident that they can push the club forward while improving individually, but it's not something that will just happen in the space of a few weeks. We're full of ambition, but we need to remain patient. We also have to take into account the fact that many of our top players - such as Andrej Kramaric, Ishak Belfodil and Benni Hübner - have either been out injured or not quite at their highest level. We're not burdened by excessive expectations and we're fully focused on the development of our squad. Alfred Schreuder and his coaching staff are working hard every day to improve the performances. It's all part of the process. We've also been developing innovative new approaches and are engaged in areas of paramount socio-political importance. When I take a step back to look at all the hard work we're doing here at the club, and how it all comes together in harmony, I must say it makes me very happy.''

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