Lewis Holtby: Monchengladbach’s loss is Schalke’s gain

Posted: January 7, 2012 in Bundesliga, Germany, Player profiles, Schalke
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It could have been an England shirt.

Every club makes mistakes when it comes to young players. Lewis Holtby was Borussia Monchengladbach’s.

Having joined their youth team at age 11, he was told at 14 that he was “too small and too slow.”

Holtby made the move to Alemannia Aachen, and following their relegation from the Bundesliga, he made his debut at the age of 17, although he was far from a regular.

He did establish himself in the first team the following season, and it wasn’t long before scouts from many a Bundesliga club were looking at him. The side that did get him was Schalke 04.

After half a season with The Royal Blues, he was sent out on loan to VfL Bochum to gain more experience. Gain experience is exactly what he did, playing 14 times, scoring twice and showing a lot of potential.

That potential began to turn into something substantial and consistent with a second loan move, this time to Mainz 05 for the duration of the 2010/11 season. It was, ultimately, the making of him.

Given plenty of freedom and with little expectation, he shone at Mainz, playing 30 games and establishing himself as something of a creative force, in particular one with an eye for a pass.

His form didn’t go unnoticed by the national side. He was handed the captain’s armband of the U21 side, and a full cap came at the end of the 2010/11 season in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Azerbaijan.

The ended any aspirations the English FA may have had of persuading Holtby to pledge his allegiance to the country of his father’s birth. However, we may yet see Holtby in England, as like his father (a soldier from Liverpool, who was stationed in Monchengladbach) he is an Everton fan, and has made no secret of his desire to play for them.

As it stands at club level, he is progressing very nicely at Schalke, with the only criticism being he needs to add more goals to his game. At international level, his biggest problem is competition – with the likes of Gotze, Kroos, Ozil et al chances are going to be few and far between. Next time he gets one, he needs to take it.

Dynamic operator in the midfield who brings out the best of those around him. Terrific work-rate. Fast-tracked into the national side to keep him out of the clutches of the dastardly English – that’s how highly he’s rated.” John Dobson, journalist. @dopsonjp

The video below shows some Holtby highlights…

  1. wolf says:

    Nice article, always good to read about german football.
    Funny how BMG got rid of him for physical reasons, and I read somewhere Reus was too small for Dortmund years ago. Teams have paid dearly by projecting physical development too early as these boys still going through puberty and development. It is far easier to evaluate physical development as opposed to viewing the fussball-brain.

    Unrelated question: With the Reus signing, and the development of Moritz Lechner, what becomes of Ilkay Gundogan? The pressure to fill the Sahin-role which is not his natural position, in an ever crowding midfield worries me. That Dortmund is becoming Bayern-esque in it acquiring depth, and sacrificing a players personal development in the long-term.

    • James Hunt says:

      Apologies for the massive delay in replying, and thanks for the kind words.

      I believe Gundogan will still have a massive role to play at Dortmund next season, especially given the fact Kagawa is set to leave. Leitner looks an excellent prospect, but he only made 2 starts (and 15 appearances as sub) this season, so there’s a long way to go before he claims a regular spot. Gundogan, meanwhile, started more league games than both Bender and Kehl, so he’s fairly established, and – similar to Kroos at Bayern – is equally adept at playing both the deeper and the more advanced role.

  2. LG says:

    I really love this site and the emails I get through every now and then! Could we have one please on Podolski??

    • James Hunt says:


      Thanks so much for the comment, glad you’re enjoying the site. Been focusing on younger players really, but I’m sure at some point I’ll turn my attentions to the older stars, and when that happens Podolski will obviously be one of the first names on the list.

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