Vwill Oliver Glasner extend his contract early beyond the 2023/2024 Bundesliga season? Eintracht made him this offer with the best of intentions. Or will the 48-year-old coach leave Eintracht this summer before the end of the planned collaboration and maybe look for a new challenge in the Premier League (Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea FC) or with a league rival?
And what does the future of Axel Hellmann look like? Will the Frankfurt board spokesman – as originally planned – only remain at the top of the German Football League (DFL) on an interim basis until the end of the round? Or will Hellmann be the new and sole DFL boss from summer? That would be a bang for Eintracht, which they would have to cope with first. Many questions that need to be clarified as quickly as possible, because the unrest that has arisen before the important final spurt of the season could hardly be greater.
“Okay dad, go ahead then!”
At the moment, the Europa League winner, who has only won one game in the past eight competitive games, is mainly busy with himself. The problems are literally homemade: differences of opinion and mutual incomprehension have built up between Hellmann and Eintracht supervisory board chairman Philip Holzer for months. And Glasner and sports director Markus Krösche do not always speak with one voice, despite protestations to the contrary. They have different perspectives on some processes. Depending on the occasion and mood, this always comes to light more or less subtly.
At the end of March, the people of Frankfurt, who have to be careful not to gamble away their international ambitions, are looking for leadership, harmony and consistency. Values that Eintracht held dear for a long time and were never in question, quite the opposite: unity was Frankfurt’s trump card for the upswing. It formed the basis for national and international soaring.
But consistency and predictability are only offered by one person these days: Makoto Hasebe. As expected, the 39-year-old Japanese, who has been wearing the Eintracht jersey since 2014, extended his contract by another season until July 1, 2024 on Tuesday. “Appropriate for the special occasion,” as the club proudly announced. In Japan – where Hasebe enjoys “legendary status” – it was midday, which is why the press release was made public in Frankfurt at 5.45 a.m.
He was “very happy that I can and am allowed to play football at the highest level for another year at Eintracht. Frankfurt has become my home, Eintracht is my club.” It was “not a difficult decision”, “I really feel like playing football,” said Frankfurt reliability personified. Hasebe says with a smile that his little daughter had the last word, and finally gave the go-ahead. “Okay Dad, then go on!”, She said. But not without your own interest. In the coming season, Hasebe’s daughter would like to be a walk-in child again at a Frankfurt home game. For the former captain of the Japan national team, it is “special to be part of the team at such a big and successful club at the age of 40.”
In fact: Hasebe, who has played 114 international matches and is already one of the ten oldest outfield players in the Bundesliga, could overtake former Frankfurt goalkeeper Uli Stein in the new round and thus become the oldest first division professional in the history of Eintracht. An appearance on the first day of the 2023/2024 season – his tenth in Frankfurt – would be enough for that. Hasebe can look back on ten Bundesliga appearances so far this season, eight of them in the starting XI. With his game intelligence and composure, the Japanese is a permanent fixture as the head of the three-man defense if necessary.
“With his attitude, his discipline and his footballing quality, Makoto is not only an absolute role model in our team, but also still an enrichment for our game,” said Krösche, who is also in Tokyo, about the Japanese and calls him “also about beyond national borders” an “ambassador for Eintracht Frankfurt and German football. “Makoto is the only professional who can decide for himself whether to renew his contract.” After his active career – whenever that is – Hasebe is likely to switch to the coaching staff, he already has a contract until 2027. “Makoto will be with Eintracht for a long time,” says Krösche.
Hasebe, who in terms of experience and leadership strength can hardly be beaten, knows how success can return to Frankfurt in the short term. The Japanese called for everyone – inside and outside the club – to stand together again. “Then we can achieve big goals in the end.” He firmly believes that Eintracht will also be represented internationally in the coming season. It is up to the people of Frankfurt to achieve this goal themselves. Above all, the team must eliminate their problems with defending and find their way back to their old level of performance as a whole. And those responsible for the club must no longer offer any cause for unrest and disagreements, but must set a good example.