When the roster gets dangerously thin, pro teams move quick to fill the gap. At least when it's clear that an expected workhorse will be out longer than expected due to injury. This is precisely the case for MT Melsungen right now. As a result, the North Hesse handball Bundeliga club has moved to sign Dener Jaanimaa from THW Kiel. The Estonian national player will fill the gap in the right backcourt behind Michael Müller created by the absence of Gabor Langhans.
"It's possible to work around a limited absence of a player, with other players on the roster filling in at that position. That's exactly how we handled the first few weeks of the new season. When Michael Müller needs a breather, we've been inserting our right-handed Timm Schneider, Nenad Vuckovic or even Patrik Fahlgren into that right back position. But that's not a long-term solution. In recognition of that, it was time to react and we're very pleased to have been able to arrange for an experienced right back like Dener Jaanimaa", says Axel Geerken, explaining the transfer. The MT President continues: "It was a good fit, especially since THW Kiel was willing to make Jaanimaa available for the short term. You don't find proven lefthanders for the backcourt available every day. In this regard, our thanks go out to the THW for their willingness to listen to us and for making the player available on short notice".
Dener Jaanimaa (Photo: A. Käsler, kl. Foto: THW Kiel) moved from Tallin, Estonia to Sweden back in 2011, then on to Germany, where he first played for EHV Aue. He quickly distinguished himself in the second league as "Goalgetter extraordinaire", drawing attention from Bundesliga teams. He soon was called up to ThSV Eisenach and then HSV Hamburg. His contract with the HSV ended after the first leg of the season, as the club was forced for economic reasons to withdraw from the league. When THW Kiel, at the time the title holders, encountered a rush of mid-season injuries last season, they brought him in during January to stabilise the roster. With their personnel issues have long since been resolved, and with Christian Zeitz, Marco Vujin and Steffen Weinhold all healthy and ready, there were too many players looking for time in the right backcourt.
With the MT, Dener Jaanimaa will now have a chance to achieve more than just the role of "utility player". The Estonian signed a contract with the North Hesse club to run through 30/6/2018. "Both parties now have security as we — as of right now — cannot predict when Gabor Langhans will be ready to go again", says Axel Geerken. Once all the formalities of the transfer are completed and the Association provides its ok — which the MT believes will happen — then Deener Jaanimaa will already be decked out in the red-and-white kit with number 24 on his back this Saturday for the important match against Frisch Auf Göpping in Rothenbach Hall.
Gabor Langhans came to the MT from TuS N-Lübbecke in the offseason to provide relief for Michael Müller in the back right, but so far has not been available for a single league game for the North Hesse squad. The reason: a knee condition related to the patellar tendon that was considered resolved from his time in Lübbecke flared again during his pre-season with the MT. The result: the new acquisition had to remove almost all the stress from his knee and enter into a new round of special physiotherapeutic treatment with Klaus Eder, known as the "man with the healing hands" by German's national football eleven. Langhans has since returned to Melsungen and has started into his first handball-specific training. When the lefty will once again be ready for Bundesliga-quality competition is unknown.
Key Info for Dener Jaanimaa
Date/place of birth: 9/8/1989 / Tallin (Estonia)
Size / weight: 1.85 / 92 kg
Position / throwing hand: Back right / lefty
Siili PK (EST)
SK Reval-Sport/Kristiine (EST)
Chocolate Boys Tallin (EST)
2009 LIF Lindesberg (SWE)
2011 EHV Aue (GER; 2. Bundesliga)
2013 ThSV Eisenach (GER)
2015 HSV Hamburg (GER)
2016 THW Kiel (GER)
ab 01.10.2016 MT Melsungen (GER)
46 matches, 158 goals (As at: 28/09/2016)
70 caps with Estonia, 176 goals (As at: 4/9/2016)
Kiel General Manager Thorsten Storm reported through the club's media outlets: "Dener is a great guy and give tremendous aid to THW Kiel when we were in a similar situation. He has our thanks, which was why we accepted his request to be transferred. We gave him this opportunity because with the short-term signing of Christian Zeitz before this season, our right backcourt is full with Steffen Weinhold, Marco Vujin and of course Christian Zeitz. We wish Dener much success in his career".