Well, it looks like as another season goes by, more young budding Schalke stars will depart to “bigger” clubs and continue their careers outside of Gelsenkirchen.
It’s the everlasting situation for the Royal Blues, who are in the same situation clubs such as Southampton, Sevilla, Sporting Lisbon, Lyon and more are constantly in. Pretty big clubs – top 30 or so in the world – with world class youth academies yet not big enough to keep those youth players.
Schalke has had their fair share of loss. Mesut Ozil (2008) and Manuel Neuer (2011) developed their football skills at the club, only to leave right as they entered their prime, going on to become world class footballers. From 2011-2014, Schalke was fortunate enough to keep most of their young talent. However, the same can’t be said since.
Since 2014, Schalke have lost young stars in Joel Matip, Leroy Sane and Julian Draxler. Sane and Draxler are legitimate world class talents at the ages of only 20 and 23. Matip was without question been Liverpool’s best defender, and would be in the starting XI for all but three or four clubs in the world.
That trend looks to continue this summer, as things have become tense with Schalke’s current young talents, Max Meyer, Leon Goretzka and Sead Kolasinac. Meyer and Kolasinac seem like locks to head to the Premier League this summer after recent reports.
According to SportBild, Meyer and Schalke “have already decided on a divorce this summer”, and Tottenham, or possibly Arsenal or Liverpool, are the likely destinations. Kolasinac, who has already been rumoured to have agreed on a deal with Chelsea, has now also reportedly fielded a massive offer from Everton, according to Bleacher Report and SportBild. Kolasinac has been linked to clubs such as Juventus and Atletico Madrid, and has not expressed any desire to stay in Germany this summer.
Therefore, Schalke and the board absolute must focus on retaining Goretzka, whose contract expires in 2018. The relationship between Meyer and the club looks to have become poor, and Kolasinac is all but guaranteed to be gone. Goretzka, on the other hand, has not been involved in as many rumours, although Arsenal are likely pushing hard for the 22 year-old central midfielder including some other top clubs.
To be honest, Goretzka has been the better, more consistent player than Meyer and is a fantastic box-to-box player. That competitive mindset is what this club is about, and Goretzka’s agent recently said that no decision has been made on his future, according to The Sun. Barring a miracle, since Meyer and Kolasinac will be sold, that leaves the Royal Blues with a huge sum of money to spend. Unfortunately, Goretzka recently turned down a contract extension by the board, which doesn’t bode well.
Fellow central midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, one of Schalke’s five best players this season without question, agreed to a four-year deal with the club back in February. Imagine how nice it would be to sign Goretzka to a three or four-year extension, and have two of the best CM’s in the Bundesliga signed long term – both of whom are 22 or younger. When Breel Embolo comes back from injury, that is a deadly trio of players around the midfield.
Only one thing can change this phenomenon of Schalke’s youth talent leaving so early before the prime of their careers – winning. By winning, that means Champions League football. Nobody is asking Schalke to win the league or even compete with Bayern, but they need to get back to the 55-60 point a season threshold and whatever way they can, earn a Champions League spot. Making the Europa League helps bring in mid-level talent and is good exposure for the club, but in order to get to the level Schalke were at from 2008-2015 or so, they need one strong campaign to get them back into that top four. Hopefully, that’s next season.