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Leverkusen confirm Schmidt to take charge from next season

The 47-year-old Red Bull Salzburg coach is to take the reins at Leverkusen in the summer. Sascha Lewandowski is to coach the Bundesliga side for the final three matches of this season.

Bayer Leverkusen confirmed on Thursday that Roger Schmidt will be their next head coach. The 47-year-old Schamidt penned a two-year-deal to replace the

recently dismissed Sami Hyypia.

Sascha Lewandowski is to continue on an interim basis until the end of the season with the aim of securing fourth place in the Bundesliga, which would put them into the qualifying stage of the Champions League. Lewandowski is to return to the club's youth setup at the end of the campaign.

Prior to agreeing to join Bayer Leverkusen, Schmidt had also attracted interest from Eintracht Frankfurt, who are also looking for a new bench boss, since

Armin Veh announced that he would leave the club at the end of the season.

"I'm happy the decision has been made and that I can fully concentrate on the last few weeks at Salzburg and end the season positively," Schmidt told Salzburg's official web site. "I found it (the decision to leave) incredibly difficult because I really enjoy coaching in Salzburg."

He returns to Germany after almost two years at Red Bull. Under Schmidt, Salzburg have run away with the Austrian Bundesliga this yeason,

clinching the league title

back in March. There are still three more league games to play.

Schmidt, who had an average playing career, began his coaching career with Preussen Münster before moving on to second division side Paderborn. Leverkusen will be his first taste of Germany's top flight as a coach or player.

"I look forward to the new challenge at a top club and I'm happy to now be able to work in the Bundesliga," Schmidt said.

"We have chosen Roger Schmidt from among a number of candidates to become the new Bayer 04 coach," said Leverkusen's CEO, Martin Schade. "He stands for hard-working, fast and attractive attacking football," he added.

"The way he likes to play football is a perfect fit for Leverkusen," Rudi Völler, the club's sporting director, added.

Leverkusen are to pay a fee of 1.5-million-euros ($2 million) for Schmidt, who is to take up his duties at the Rhineland club on July 1.

Rd/pfd (dpa, SID)

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