The architect of Borussia Mönchengladbach’s renaissance as one of Germany’s powerhouses over the last few years, Max Eberl - sporting director at the Borussia Park - also has a reputation as a talent-spotter supreme.
bundesliga.com sat down for a fascinating exclusive interview with Eberl, who discussed Reece Oxford’s future at the club, the state of play in the Bundesliga and Gladbach’s ambitions for the remainder of the campaign.
bundesliga.com: Max Eberl, the Bundesliga’s high standard is shown almost every season in another young player coming through who has the attributes eventually to join one of the world’s biggest clubs. The question for you is: how do you seem to uncover a Granit Xhaka, a Thorgan Hazard or a Mickael Cuisance over and over again?
Max Eberl: We’ve developed an excellent scouting department over the last few years with Steffen Korell in charge. Our scouting network is geared towards bringing in young players with high potential for development. We even have one scout whose role is to check and verify all the information and facts provided by the other scouts.
Watch: Gladbach came out 2-1 winners against Bayern Munich on Matchday 13!
bundesliga.com: Another example of what we're talking about is Reece Oxford, who has rejoined Borussia after briefly returning to West Ham. What are your hopes for him?
Eberl: It was very important for us that Reece could come back to Mönchengladbach. We’re particularly pleased that a player who didn’t play every game – in fact, he only played four – was still really keen to return. He saw what we had promised him in the summer was beginning to happen.
bundesliga.com: Is there a chance of keeping him beyond this season?
Eberl: Reece is very happy here and we’re very happy that he’s got another half-season with us. There is a third party, though, West Ham, who have a contract with Reece. Of course, we accept that. Hope springs eternal.
bundesliga.com: Wanting to sign someone is one thing, but how do you actually convince a player to join Borussia?
Eberl: Through our authenticity and what we’ve built and demonstrated in the last few years. When a young player comes, we can name 10 or perhaps even 15 players who have progressed incredibly at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Eberl: Young players absolutely want to play and absolutely should play. It can be dangerous to join a huge club and just chase the vast sums of money on offer. Young players need to be challenged in order to wring out every last drop of their potential. Borussia Mönchengladbach has made a good name for itself in that respect in the last few years. We’re not planning to leave that path now. It’s the only way for Borussia Mönchengladbach to be successful.
bundesliga.com: Gladbach are eighth in the current standings, two points adrift of the European places. What’s your take on the table?
Eberl: Back on Matchday 7, no one would have expected Bayern Munich to be so far ahead, given [Borussia] Dortmund’s start. I’m not all that surprised it’s so tight among the chasing pack, though. We’re in the running and, although eighth isn’t enough for the Europa League, we’re not far behind. That being said, three points from our first four games since the winter break is not what we set out for – even if our performances deserved more.
bundesliga.com: It feels like a bit of a hot-and cold-season for Gladbach so far. Is that fair to say?
Eberl: The way I see it is that there are a lot of teams at a similar level. If you’d said at the start that we’d only be three points behind Dortmund after 21 games, everyone would be talking about a good season. Now we’ve got ourselves in this position, a lot of people are getting itchy feet. Obviously we need to pick up the points consistently in the weeks and months ahead if we want to achieve something big. Big for us would be European qualification, but that should never be seen as an absolute must for Borussia.
bundesliga.com: Bayer Leverkusen are second with 35 points from 21 matches. Four years ago that number was 43 points at the same stage. What do you make of the season as a whole?
Eberl: It’s not just me, but all my colleagues expected it to be very tight. There are no easy games at the moment. Teams like Hoffenheim, [Eintracht] Frankfurt or Gladbach have done a good job in recent years. Catching Leverkusen, Dortmund and Schalke seemed unattainable for those clubs, but they’ve closed the gap.
Max Eberl was in conversation with bundesliga.com's Andreas Kötter