As he did last summer in getting Leonardo Bittencourt, sporting Director Jörg Schmadtke has again leveraged his Hannover 96 history to bring a new player into the effzeh fold, this time acquiring Konstantin Rausch. The former German youth national player arrives in Köln on a “free” transfer, as his contract with SV Darmstadt 98 elapsed with the end of the 2014-15 season. The long-rumored move was made official Wednesday when the club presented their new player by announcing agreement with Rausch to a three-year deal to join Peter Stöger’s squad.
“Kocka,” who plays mostly along the left flank, had a bit of a bounce-back season during his one-year stint with the upstart Lillies, providing two goals and five assists to help the promoted side maintain Bundesliga classification with a 15th-place, 38-point season. Darmstadt made two prior visits to Germany’s top flight, but was quickly relegated both times after finishing dead-last (1978-79) and 17th (1981-82). And while proud of having helped make history in Darmstadt, the 26-year-old is targeting bigger goals with his move to the Cathedral City.
“After a great year in Darmstadt, I am very much looking forward to the new challenge in Köln,” said Rausch following his introduction. “The talks I had with the FC decision makers made it absolutely clear that the transfer here is the right move for me.”
While the idea of Filip Mladenovic, Leonardo Bittencourt, and Konstantin Rausch running along the left side may inspire fantasies of a new high-octane offense among Köln fans, the newest member of the Billy Goats may best show is qualities in the moments the game momentarily pauses. Though Köln’s long-dismal set-piece game saw some improvement last season, Rausch stands to deliver a significant upgrade from dead-ball situations.
“With Kocka Rausch, we get a flexible, fast player, who is a good set-up man with his left foot and can strike dangerous set-piece balls,” says coach Stöger of his newest charge. “We are happy that he decided on the FC.”
As for the front-office portion of the deal, Schmadtke inferred that the time the two were together at Hannover played a key role both in the desire to bring Rausch into the fold, as well as in giving the 1. FC Köln an edge over other suitors.
“I have known Kocka a long time, as we worked together in Hannover,” said Schmadtke. “He is an established Bundesliga player who can play both offensively and defensively on the left flank.”
“Several clubs went after Kocka in recent weeks. We apparently presented some good arguments to convince him to join FC.”
Rausch may not have needed too much convincing by the Stöger-Schmadtke sales team, though, as it seems he had been paying attention to the positive momentum with the club in recent seasons, as well as some of the ancillary benefits available in Köln.
“The FC is a Traditions club with extraordinary fans and has shown very positive development in recent years. I want to play my role in this team to ensure this development continues.”
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