Mainz 05 can achieve more with this squad

Nadiem Amiri recently extended his contract.

They are used to fighting to stay in the league in Mainz. Since coach Martin Schmidt led the Rhineland-Palatinate team into the Europa League in the 2015/16 season, they have fought against relegation in five of eight seasons.

The most spectacular rescue came three years ago from Bo Svensson, who finished twelfth with a team that seemed certain to be relegated. But the second division has not been as close as it was last season since 1996: Mainz only secured another year in the top flight on the last matchday.

The most important reasons for this development were the defensive stability that had already been achieved during Svensson’s successor Jan Siewert’s short tenure, the January signing of Nadiem Amiri, Jonathan Burkardt’s strong improvement in form after an injury break of more than a year, and Bo Henriksen’s work, which was crucial.

The Dane proved to be a motivational artist of the highest order. He managed to transfer his confidence to the team from the very beginning, giving the players back their belief in their strengths. And not just verbally and with gestures, with which he also carried the fans along, but also with content.

Henriksen prescribed a courageous, offensive concept for his players, and with the exception of the match in Munich, he always found the right tactics. The final series of nine match days without defeat speaks volumes: 23 points from 13 matches bear his signature.

During the 49-year-old’s tenure, only three competitors scored more points than Mainz. This record can be built upon for the coming season. The club’s management will probably declare remaining in the league as their goal. But if sports director Christian Heidel and sports director Martin Schmidt manage to keep the core together, more than just a worry-free season is possible.

Convincing Amiri, the playmaker in the number six position, to extend his contract was a first step on this path. Finding a suitable replacement for Leandro Barreiro, who has moved to Lisbon, would be the second.

Mainz want to keep Sepp van den Berg, who has become a confident defensive leader with top marks in tackles over the course of the season and is currently on loan from Liverpool FC. And then it remains to be seen whether they can tie down sought-after players such as Burkardt and the highly talented Brajan Gruda.

Or to see whether offers from other clubs are so generous that Heidel’s statement, “at Mainz 05, no player is unsellable,” applies. If the club can afford not to sell any of the professionals who have played a key role in the club’s upswing, it should do so.

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