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Leon Goretzka – Schalke’s Midfield Gem

If you have not already, you will soon start hearing a lot more of Leon Goretzka who is looking to unleash his potential in the Bundesliga for Schalke, which has recently attracted the attention of Italian giants Juventus.

When you think about young talent breaking through the ranks in Germany, it is hard to look past die Konigsblauen’s well known Knappenschmiede which has produced some of the finest talents in Europe including the likes of Manuel Neuer, Mesut Özil and Julian Draxler, with all three players starting their football with the Gelsenkirchen side, going on to become some of the best players in the world and representing Germany at national level.

The latest talent to come through the ranks of Schalke is Leon Goretzka who has been immensely impressive in the past two seasons. With teenage sensations Maximilian Meyer and former Schalke man Leroy Sane making all the headlines at the club, the lesser known 21-year-old is following their footsteps in becoming another fine talent to begin with the Bundesliga side with hopes of becoming a star in the future.

Playing at the heart of the German side’s midfield at such a young age could be very much daunting for someone so premature in their career, but standing at 6’2, Goretzka has slotted in perfectly and is already well advanced psychically than many other players his age group. The German born’s strength in the middle has certainly helped him settle in at senior level, with the midfielder very calm and composed in possession, possessing prodigious passing with 81% pass completion per 90 minutes thus far this season whilst not shying away from taking shots too with confidence in himself to shoot from advanced positions.

The beauty of his game is his versatility which is certainly a bonus for Schalke manager Markus Weinzierl who has shown great faith in the youngster since Goretzka’s arrival back in 2013. Coming through the ranks at every youth level for Germany, his performances have also caught the eye of Joachim Low who has already handed the promising youngster three international caps thus far with many more certain to come in the up-and-coming new German era.

When deploying the deeper midfield role, Goretzka can use his trait of great height and natural ability to retain possession for his side as he is a fantastic ball winner in the air, but deploying that role involves much more, he is a very good tackler and interceptor of play which helps Schalke spring counter attacks from defensive situations.

At just 21-years-old, it’s very unique to have a player so young but so intelligent and professional which is admirable, having supreme ability to read the game and remains a step ahead of his opposition with how play will pan out, this is key for Schalke winning back possession and retaining the ball from dangerous positions.

I have touched on the fact the impressive youngster is versatile although he predominantly plays the central role, out of position from the middle of the park he can struggle due to technical ability with final delivery into the box, but playing centrally he often thrives of his other great abilities such as long range shots, similar to England greats Paul Scholes and Frank Lampard and ability to pass through the lines. Creating chances is another trait he carries too, managing 0.86 key passes per 90 minutes this season, close control and confidence in his abilities can also see him play as a play-maker with all his attributes has helped him take the Bundesliga by storm.

Playing the central role allows the promising youngster does not get isolated from play, when he picks up play from central positions using his strong defensive awareness to win back play, he takes advantage of his strength and power to drive forward into a position where he can shoot or create for his team. As you can see from the photos below, Goretzka intercept’s play from deep and drives forward taking on several opponents before slotting through a pin point ball with hawk eye vision, to which was converted.

Goretzka picks up play from deep before driving past the oncoming midfielder which is norm for the 21-year-old.

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The impressive Schalke man breezes into the position he wants to be, and when the midfielder gets into an advanced position he uses his hawk-eye vision to place a magnificent ball.2

The ball was played through with perfect weight and in the path of his teammate to take into his stride and score a goal, a prime example of what the supreme German can bring to the team and the style he plays.3

There is plenty of indication why Peter Neururer, Goretzka’s former head coach at VfL Bochum titled the young star as “talent of the century” and with the midfielder progressing extensively and playing regularly is key to his development, with him expected to be at the heart of the new breed of Germans, as he looks to take Europe by storm, oozing peerless performances he is certain to reach the colossal potential which is what makes him so exciting.

The sky and beyond is the limit for this exceptional talent, and if he keeps on progressing at an impeccable pace, it’s only a matter of time before the Europe’s elite come calling.

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