Archive for the ‘Schalke’ Category

He’s overshadowed in the Bundesliga by Mario Gomez, while at international level the spotlight falls on Robin van Persie, but is Klaas-Jan Huntelaar the best striker in the world?

This does not include Lionel Messi, nor Cristiano Ronaldo. Firstly, because neither are what you would class as an ‘out-and-out’ striker. Secondly, because they are out of this world.

The five top scorers across Europe, with the two mentioned above taken out of the equation, are van Persie, Gomez, Huntelaar, Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Wayne Rooney.

The table below shows their games and goals in their respective leagues, cups and European competitions this season, as well as their goals per minutes and the percentage of their team’s league goals they have scored.*

PREMIER
LEAGUE
DOMESTIC
CUP
EUROPE
NAME APPS GOALS APPS GOALS APPS GOALS GOAL/MINUTE % of team goals (league)
Van Persie 33 27 2 2 8 5 107.2 40.90
Gomez 30 25 4 2 11 12 88.6 36.23
Ibrahimovic 26 23 4 2 8 5 107.9 37.09
Rooney 30 24 2 2 7 5 106.4 29.26
Huntelaar 29 24 4 5 12 14 91.4 36.36

As demonstrated in the table above, only Gomez and van Persie have scored more league goals than ‘The Hunter’. Huntelaar also has more goals in domestic cups, and has scored more in Europe – although all of his have came in the Europa League, as opposed to the more prestigious Champions League.

Only Gomez has a better goals per minute ratio, and both players have considerably better ratios than the rest of their ‘rivals’. While the Bayern man scores more often, it is the Dutchman who has contributed more – albeit marginally – to his side’s league goals tally this season.

At international level, it would appear Huntelaar is again more valuable. He has scored 31 goals in 50 appearances for Holland, compared to his fellow countryman van Persie’s 25 in 62. Wayne Rooney has 28 in 73 for England, while Gomez has played 51 times for Germany, scoring 21 times. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has the worst goals/game record at country level, with 29 goals in 75 appearances for Sweden.

Stefan Bienkowski, of Bundesliga Football and Four Four Two, said: “The only out-and-out striker I could perhaps see above him would be Gomez, but Huntelaar does seem to have more strings to his bow. The Dutchman is often found cutting back and can fit in to the build-up play as well as any playmaker.

“His form and goals have been pivotal for Schalke this season. The club rest very comfortably in third place, which can be put down entirely to the amount of goals the team have amassed this season. Alongside Raul, the Dutchman has flourished and their ability to score certainly saves a rather average defensive record, from any blushes.”

*Stats courtesy of Soccerway.

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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…

Draxler: winner of 2011 Fritz Walter U18 gold medal

Julian Draxler became the (then) fourth-youngest Bundesliga player ever when he made his debut.

That was January 2011, when he came off the bench against HSV. A week later, and he became the second youngest outfield player to start a Bundesliga match – behind only Nuri Sahin. To add context to that, Sahin won the title with Dortmund and now plays for Real Madrid, so second to him isn’t bad.

He worked his way through the ranks at Schalke before his celebrated debut, having been born in the close-by district of Recklinghausen. His fact track to the first team shows just how highly he is rated.

In 2011, he won the gold Fritz Walter Medal at U18 level, an award that recognises the outstanding talents at U17, U18 and U19 level of German football. (Marc-Andre ter Stegen, profiled here, won gold in U19, while Emre Can did so at U17).

His star continues to rise, and this season has seen him make sixteen appearances already for Schalke, during which time he has scored three goals – equaling his total for the whole of last season.

He has also broken into the Germany U21 side, and although a debut for the Nationalmannschaft looks some way off at the moment, he could well be a fixture come the World Cup 2014, and certainly Euro 2016.

The defensive side of his game has been spoke about as a weakness, but he is very much seen as an attacking playmaker, evident in the fact his strengths lie in his shooting and passing, while he possesses a good technique and plenty of flair.

Never overawed, he’s a rugged, hard-working midfielder with a maturity way beyond his years.” John Dobson, journalist. @dobsonjp