Even as one season is under way, Handball Bundesliga club MT Melsungen is already working hard on its future roster. The team from North Hesse recently announced a commitment by German national right wing Tobias Reichmann, a major personnel coup. Now a second big signing has been announced: Finn Lemke, yet another German national player, will be coming to the red-and-white for the start of the 2017/18 season. The 24-year-old will assume the left backcourt spot, known as the 'king's position', as successor to Momir Rnic, whose contract is expiring. Finn Lemke's initial contract with the MT will run three years.
MT Melsungen has signed Finn Lemke (Alibek Käsler photo), yet another current German national player, for the 2017/18 season. The contract with the 2.10 metre tall righty, currently playing with MT Magdeburg, will start on 1 July 2017 and run for three years. It was already announced on 15 September by the Sachsen-Anhalt club that Lemke was not interested in extending his contract beyond this season in Magdeburg.
From marksman to defensive specialist and back?
The Bremen native first made his jump to the Bundesliga with TBV Lemgo. Coming from his home club of HSG Schwanewede/Neuenkirchen, Finn Lemke developed himself with the eastern Westphalia club between 2011 and 2015 as a bit of a marksman. He scored over 120 goals from the normal run of play alone during his last two seasons with the club. After switching last year to SC Magdeburg, he was given an entirely new role, almost entirely in the defence. That package of skills drew the attention of Germany's national coaches. Certainly his spot in the German national team is largely on the defensive side of things. He played a significant role in the European championship claimed earlier in the year in Poland as well as the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Rio this summer. At MT Melsungen, Finn Lemke will once again be given the chance to let loose on offence, coach Michael Roth promises.
Says Geerken: Who will carry the load for us in the coming years?
"We are firmly convinced that Finn Lemke represents yet another mosaic tile in our forward-looking team. The central question for our personnel planning is: Which positions will we need to fill anew, and who can we go out and get with the potential and perspective to carry the load for us in the coming years? Both of our latest signings, Tobias Reichmann and Finn Lemke, fit that profile perfectly. The fact that they have not only international experience but — as in this case — are German national players as well makes it all the finer", says Axel Geerken on the latest personnel coup. The MT President continues: "Our plans for next season and beyond aren't finished with just Reichmann and Lemke. Although I don't want to imply that our search for future players is limited just to those who wear the German kit".
Roth: Investment in the future
"A club must always seize the opportunity to change when they are available. It's not every day that you can snap up a current German national player. I see Finn Lemke as an investment in the future of the MT. He's highly talented and it's really not fair to label him solely as a defensive specialist — even if that's the role he's currently playing with the national team and in his club. Offence is firmly part of his DNA, no question. Which is why it's a fine thing that his responsibilities will be precisely the opposite for us. He certainly needs trust, and that's what we'll give him", explains MT Coach Michael Roth.
Lemke: A terrific feeling from the start
"Right now I'm 100% focused on giving my all to the SC Magdeburg”, Finn Lemke says, dispelling any notions that his thoughts might drift during the ongoing season toward his future club. Even so, the right-hander is thrilled that contract negotiations with MT Melsungen worked out. "I opted for the MT because I got a terrific feeling from the club from the first time we sat and talked. Coach Michael Roth explained to me how he wants to use me and what he expects of me. I liked what he said because I see myself fitting that role. I don't see myself as either a pure defensive specialist or as a pure shooter. In the end, handball isn't about the individual, but rather about winning as a team. I want to apply my skills to achieving that", the 24 year old explains. With that said, he didn't deny that the prospect of getting back into offensive action made the transfer to North Hesse a bit sweeter.
Another factor that helped Finn Lemke come to a decision was the fact that the MT had contact with him long before he ever was a focus of attention after success with the national team: "I was in a difficult phase at that point but I had the impression that one club was really interested".
Single-minded focus for now
Finn Lemke hasn't had time to think about the upcoming enocunter between his current and his future club, slated for 21 December in Magdeburg. But for now he categorically denies that they're be any conflict of interest inside him for that match of the one during the second half of the season. "For this entire season, the SCM is all that matters to me. The MT will come later".
What also remains unresolved is where precisely he will lay his head in North Hesse. The handball pro will decide later whether to live in Melsungen, Kassel or in the countryside. What is certain is that he and his fiancée will move in together next summer. Both intend to continue their university studies, first started in Magdeburg, at the University of Kassel — a degree in business for her, in social work for him, as far as that is possible alongside a pro schedule. If there's any time left for leisure, Finn Lemke in a dog lover and loves heading out into nature with his Dalmatians. He'll find plenty of lovely spots for a ramble in North Hesse.
Key Info for Finn Lemke
Date of birth / place of birth: 30 April 1992 / Bremen
Size / weight: 2.10 m / 115 kg
Marital status: engaged
Hobbies: Long walks with his Dalmatians
Position / throwing hand: backcourt left / right
2010 - 2011: HSG Schwanewede/Neuenkirchen
2011 - 2015: TBV Lemgo
2015 - 2017: SC Magdeburg
120 Bundesliga matches, 350 goals (As at: 25/09/2016)
41 national caps, 21 goals, European Champion 2016, Olympic Bronze Medallist 2016