With that historic 9-0 thrashing against Leicester City still fresh in the memory, those humiliated Southampton fans are in need of a bit of positivity to shake off the shock.
And Erik Stoffelshaus (above, left) could provide exactly that.
According to the Sun, the struggling Saints have identified the 48-year-old talent-spotter as the man to replace Rangers-bound Ross Wilson as the new sporting director at St Mary’s. Manchester United are keen on Stoffelshaus too and with good reason.
This is a man who has played a key role in the careers of some of the game’s greats after all.
It was Stoffelshaus’ stroke of genius that brought a teenage Ivan Rakitic to Schalke from Basel in 2007; “I knew very quickly that we would have a special one. I have never experienced such a mature 18-year-old like Ivan Rakitic,” he told Spox.
12 years on, Rakitic now has 106 international caps to his name, as well as four La Liga titles and a Champions League winner’s medal on his CV. During half a decade at Barcelona, the Croatian has established himself as one of the game’s most decorated midfielders.
Talk about decorated. At his peak, Neuer was not only the world’s best goalkeeper, he changed the position forever with his unique ‘sweeper-keeper’ approach.
Germany’s World Cup winning captain has dominated the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich but it was at rivals Schalke where he made his name. Neuer rose through the ranks at the Veltins Arena during Stoffelshaus’s reign and he is not the only former Schalke youngster who tasted success at the very top of the game.
Ozil cannot buy a game at Arsenal right now but, however this sad story ends, he will always have been a world-class number ten who conquered the world with Germany and helped Real Madrid end Barcelona’s dominance during the Pep Guardiola era.
Like Neuer, Ozil made his name in Schalke’s youth ranks under Stoffelshaus.
Notable mentions too must go to Jefferson Farfan, Benedikt Howedes and even Joel Matip, the Liverpool star who was rising through the ranks at Schalke during Stoffelshaus’ era.
Considering that Southampton pride themselves upon inspired bargain signings and providing a platform for academy graduates, they might have found the right man to take them forward.
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