The worst kept secret in German football has finally been made public. Darmstadt have confirmed coach Dirk Schuster will move to Augsburg, paving the way for Markus Weinzierl to replace Andre Breitenreiter at Schalke.
In a statement on the club's website, Augsburg president Klaus Hofmann confirmed that Weinzierl, 41, would take the Royal Blues job:
"Markus Weinzierl has decided to leave FCA to continue his future at FC Schalke," Hoffmann said. "We thank him for four good years in the Bundesliga."
Weinzierl has signed a three-year deal and will form part of a new-look management team at Schalke, joining new director of sport Christian Heidel, who moved to the club from Mainz.
"I have followed Markus Weinzierl over a number of years, not just during his time at FC Augsburg," said Heidel. He is a manager who can give a team an entirely new tactical philosophy and that’s what he will do at Schalke."
"He is also a very good people person. We want to start something new at Schalke, and with Markus it’s very much a case of the right man at the right time."
Big challenge ahead
For his part, Weinzierl - who took over at Augsburg in 2012 - said he was looking forward to the challenge at Schalke, who underachieved in finishing fifth in the Bundesliga this season.
"I’m delighted that the club has put their faith in me. Being the manager at Schalke is a big challenge, but one that I’m happy to take on," he said.
"I’m looking forward to the new task ahead and to working with the team, and I will give my all in order for our work together to be successful."
While in charge at Augsburg, Weinzierl led the club to 5th in the Bundesliga in 2015 and to their first European campaign in the Europa League this term. They eventually lost to finalists Liverpool in the first knockout round of the competition.
Weinzierl’s replacement Schuster has signed a three year contract at the Bavarian club and will take his assistant Sascha Franz with him. Augsburg confirmed the news in a tweet which welcomed their new man and said goodbye to Weinzierl.
"We thank the coaching staff and Dirk Schuster for the achievements of the past three and a half years and wish him success in the future," Darmstadt president Rüdiger Fritsch said in a statement on the club's website.
Schuster steps up
German international Schuster took over at Darmstadt in 2012, achieving back-to-back promotions with the club in 2014 and 2015 before guiding them to survival against the odds this campaign. He said he'd never forget his time at the club.
"I am excited to take on a new challenge in Augsburg after a wonderful, unforgettable and successful time with Darmstadt," Schuster said.
Fritsch added that the search for a new coach had already begun and that The Lilies would make this their priority.
None of the clubs involved have released any compensation details but some reports have put the figure for Schuster, whose contract at Darmstadt ran until 2018, at just over 1 million euros.