FC Schalke 04 has long been a club stuck in the ‘little brother’ role to Europe’s elite. For years they have supplied some of the giants of the sport with superstar players. Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich comes to mind, and the latest ex-Schalker to make a splash is without a doubt Leroy Sane, who carved out a brilliant debut season for himself at Manchester City.
This coming season, Schalke Sporting Director Christian Heidel has made it clear that Leon Goretzka is their most important player. Goretzka is the newest name that has the big boys calling Gelsenkirchen, but Heidel has also made it clear he is not for sale. As we all know though, in football, everyone has a price.
Goretzka has risen to prominence at Schalke primarily as a defensive midfielder, but one that possesses a wide range of abilities. In fact, he will typically play as the deepest midfielder with a knack for consistently joining the attack, as either a winger or in the role of playmaker. He has a thunderous long shot that makes him dangerous from almost any distance.
His versatility on the pitch and ability to score or assist makes him one of Germany’s most sought after young talents. Goretzka has both Champions League as well as Europa League experience. It is no surprise too since at the 2017 Confederations cup he earned the tournament’s silver boot and bronze ball awards.
His shining moment in the 2016/17 season came in the semi-final match against Mexico where he netted a brace in only eight minutes, helping Germany to a lopsided 4-1 win. Leon missed the 2014 World Cup due to injury but after his performance this summer he has almost certainly stamped a return trip to Russia next year for the 2018 World Cup with the German National Team.
So which clubs are interested in Goretzka’s services? There are a few including Tottenham and Liverpool. The club where he fits in best, in my opinion, is Arsenal. The Gunners have struggled in defensive midfield recently and adding Goretzka to the mix could be a dream scenario. I am no Arsene Wenger when it comes to lineups or tactics, nor will I ever be, but I love the combination of Granit Xhaka and Leon Goretzka playing as ‘double 6s’ in the Arsenal lineup.
This would be ideal for a 3-4-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation, with Goretzka able to hover around the pitch. This, of course, depends largely on the Arsenal personnel during any given match. We have all seen what Xhaka can do at this point. Add Goretzka to the equation and you could be cooking up something special.
His ability to play deep as well as join or even lead the attack makes him a priceless acquisition for Wenger. This would also lessen the blow of what seems like endless rumours swirling around the club regarding the possible departures of Mesut Özil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
However, it does seem that Schalke will hold onto their star for at least one more season but is important to note his contract expires after the 2018/19 season. If Goretzka does not re-sign with the club they stand to lose him on a free transfer.
Schalke cannot afford for this to happen as it pertains to their business model. This leaves either this summer or next as the final opportunities for Schalke to cash in on this amazing, young midfielder. Only time will tell.