Early Saturday, Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel announced star central midfielder Leon Goretzka will remain at the club going into next season, shutting down any transfer rumors.
“We will definitely go into the next season with Leon”, Heidel said in an interview with Schalke TV. “He is one of the most important, if not the most important, players for us. We have goals for next season, so it makes absolutely no sense to sell him.”
It’s easy to dispute Heidel’s sentiment, as there’s an argument that it does make sense to sell Goretzka this summer. The 22-year-old German international, who has become one of the nation’s most prized players with his performance at this summer’s Confederations Cup, has an expiring contract at the end of next season. He’s coming off an 8-goal, 6-assist season at Schalke in 41 competitive matches.
If Schalke hold onto Goretzka through this season and he decides to ditch town next May – which at this point looks probable for good reason – Schalke will be losing a player who could be worth up to €40 million for absolutely nothing in return. Sound familiar? Schalke lost left-back Sead Kolasinac to Arsenal on a free transfer this summer, a huge disappointment as Kolasinac’s worth may be up to €30-35 million after his dominant season for the Royal Blues.
Heidel mentions that scenario, but seems to brush it off without much hesitation.
“The discussions head in the direction of, ‘we’ll take him on a free (transfer next year) then instead (with big European clubs),’ well if that’s the case, then so be it,” Heidel states.
Well, losing out on tens of millions of pounds for one extra season of Goretzka when you have an inkling that he won’t re-sign would be pretty devastating. To be fair to Heidel, it’s a very tough situation and decision to make, and maybe he does know something we don’t about Goretzka’s desire to stay at Schalke. He also mentioned that talks about a possible contract extension will happen once Goretzka returns from Russia.
The story would absolutely be different if Goretzka and the club agreed to a long-term deal. He does seem relatively happy at the club compared to other young talents Schalke have had in the past in Julian Draxler, Mesut Özil and even current man Max Meyer. However, Goretzka has not hinted at extending his contract with the club.
One of the most likable players at the club, Goretzka is also the club’s most important player. He may be the last of the massive amount of young stars brought along to the first team from 2009-2013 to remain at Schalke. Draxler, Kolasinac, Joel Matip, Leroy Sane, and (likely) Meyer will all have moved on after this summer.
Schalke are desperate to keep Goretzka, who is becoming one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the world, to keep the club afloat. The Bundesliga has never been deeper and is without a doubt the best league top-to-bottom in the world. If Schalke lose Goretzka this summer and they don’t replace his absence with enough production, a relegation battle comes to mind, but at least the club would receive a large sum of cash in return. On the other hand, if he stays through this season – Schalke may be better off this year – but that risks the chances of him leaving on a free transfer and putting the club in a very tough situation next summer.
Now that we know Goretzka is likely apart of the club’s plans for 2017/18, qualifying for a Champions League spot next Bundesliga campaign could be the only way to retain him. The problem is, Schalke simply don’t have the talent surrounding him to earn a top-four finish.