By David Lynch, Merseyside Correspondent

21st May, 2023 | 8:00am

Klopp hails 'smart' Schmadtke as Liverpool deal all but done

Jurgen Klopp has openly praised Jorg Schmadtke as confirmation of his appointment as Liverpool’s next sporting director edges closer.

Football Insider understands that the former Wolfsburg chief is the clear frontrunner to succeed Julian Ward, who will depart this summer having spent just 12 months in the role.

Schmadtke comes with a reputation for spikiness but no previous experience working for one of Europe’s truly elite clubs, leading to him being characterised as something of a left-field choice.

However, Klopp insisted he harbours no doubts over the 59-year-old’s credentials, even if he stopped short of admitting that a deal for him to move to Liverpool is sealed.

The Reds boss also pushed back on suggestions that he has wielded major influence in the recruitment process.

Asked if Schmadtke would be a good fit, he replied: “I cannot speak about that. But if it happens, it would not be a Jurgen Klopp signing because we are both German or both know each other. That would have nothing to do with it. I can say that.

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“Jorg Schmadtke I have known a long, long time. He knows me probably not as long as I know him, because he was a much better player.

“But we started in a similar moment our second career, I became a coach at Mainz and he became sporting director at Aachen. Two teams of similar status, so from there we know each other a little bit.

“I know he is a good guy and a smart guy. Very good at what he did in Germany, definitely, very successful. His character is good, his personality is good, his humour is good. I know that from a few moments next to the pitch.

“We could talk about (Klopp’s former sporting director at Borussia Dortmund) Michael Zorc. Similar age group, similar situation, just a bit longer in retirement I know him much better. There are some good sporting directors in Germany you wouldn’t believe!”

In other news, a release clause for Liverpool’s main summer target has been revealed.