bundesliga.com takes a look at how the summer will shape Mainz's fortunes in the coming campaign...
After an up-and-down three years at VfB Stuttgart, Mainz took something of gamble on Shinji Okazaki when he was signed in summer 2013. It was a decision which paid off in some style, though, as Okazaki hit 15 league goals - a single-season record for a Japanese player - to help his new club qualify for Europe for the second time in five years. With his partner in crime, Nicolai Müller, having left, an even greater onus to score falls onto the Samurai Blue star’s shoulders this season.
A staple of every German youth team since Under-16 level, Johannes Geis began to show his potential consistently in his 24 appearances for Mainz’s senior team last season. A feisty holding midfielder, whose strength in the tackle often belies his creative ability, Geis could stand to benefit from new coach Kasper Hjulmand’s focus on youth. With set-piece duties in his back pocket, the 20-year-old will be hoping to better his return of one goal and seven assists from the previous campaign.
Christian Heidel, sporting director at Mainz, was on a scouting trip in Denmark to look at players when he caught an FC Nordsjaelland game, and was so impressed by their short-passing style, that he took down the name of head coach Kasper Hjulmand. When Thomas Tuchel vacated his post in May, the Mainz hierarchy only had one name on their list. Hjulmand comes with a reputation for proactive football and a focus on youth.
Having been knocked out of the UEFA Europa League, Mainz’s aim will now be to consolidate their seventh-placed finish from last term. Hjulmand believes that the squad is “not quite yet 100 per cent”, and is looking at new signings. After the departures of Nicolai Müller, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and Shawn Parker, Hjulmand will still be trying to bolster his goal-scoring options, despite the arrival of Filip Djuricic from SL Benfica and attacking full-back Gonzalo Jara (pictured) from Nottingham Forest FC.
The surprise departure of Thomas Tuchel took the gloss of an otherwise incredible campaign that had culminated in a seventh-place finish. The 05ers' former chief tactician had the side playing an aggressive, high-pressing game and did a remarkable job building on the foundations laid by Jürgen Klopp. An exciting 3-2 win over Hamburger SV on the final day served as a microcosm for Mainz’ exciting breed of football and ensured European qualification to boot.
With three exciting young goalkeepers in Loris Karius (pictured), Robin Zentner and Stefanos Kapino, Hjulmand has headaches right from the off when selecting his team. He is likely to plump for Karius, who will stand behind a back four that includes new signing Gonazalo Jara. Johannes Geis, Ja-Cheol Koo and Niki Zimling will all be key figures in midfield, while Shinji Okazaki will be supported going forward by exciting new recruit Filip Djuricic.
Mainz enjoyed an unbeaten pre-season, kicking things off with a 13-0 win over SV Guntersblum and a 2-1 win over 1. FC Kaiserslauternthe highlights. As soon as competitive action got underway in the UEFA Europa League qualifiers, the carnival club were caught cold. Following a 1-0 home win against Asteras Tripolis FC, Hjulmand’s troops went down 3-1 in the away leg and were eliminated. More worryingly, that form carried over into the DFB Cup where Mainz went out at the hands of third-division side Chemnitzer FC.