What to expect from Brentford’s new signing Kevin Schade

With the departure of German youth international Kevin Schade from Bundesliga high-flyers SC Freiburg, it is the Premier League’s very own Brentford who have captured the forward’s hotly contested signature. As a result, the youngster swaps one well-oiled machine for another, trading the Black Forest for a rather different environment in West London. Schade joins on a January loan deal, though The Bees are expected to make the move permanent for a reported €25m in the summer.

The right-footed German forward joined the Freiburg academy in 2018 after enjoying youth stints at SV Babelsberg and Energie Cottbus – clubs of which were far more local to the Potsdam-born 21-year-old. He swiftly made his debut for the club’s reserve side in July 2019, though it didn’t take long for the youngster to convince his superiors that an upgrade was imminent. Schade signed his first professional contract with the club later that year, before making his first-team debut in the Bundesliga against Borussia Dortmund in August 2021. Following his debut, he was rapidly earmarked as one of the club’s brightest young talents, with his coaches looking to effectively manage his minutes whilst providing sufficient top-level exposure. His first full season for Freiburg saw Schade predominantly deployed off the bench.

But it was an impressive start to the current 2022/23 Bundesliga campaign that truly propelled Schade into the spotlight, impressing weekly for a Freiburg side unpredictably chasing the title. A supreme technical forward player, Schade has caught the eye largely thanks to his innate trickery and dazzling footwork. He additionally offers a real outlet for counter-attacking sides or those who prefer to abdicate huge swathes of possession. Brentford are undoubtedly one of such clubs, with their reluctance to dominate the ball best expressed by their most recent 3-1 victory over Liverpool with just 27% possession.

Christian Streich’s team have often played some fantastic high pressing, high tempo football, and have regularly beaten some of the best teams in the league without any genuine stars in their side. Uncanny parallels can certainly be drawn with Brentford from that previous sentence, as when replacing the name Christian Streich with Thomas Frank, the rest still holds true. Freiburg and Brentford are remarkably similar in their approaches, highlighting exactly why signing an up-and-coming youngster from the club seems so strikingly sensible. Frank himself declared, “I think Kevin is a typical Brentford signing. He is a young, promising talent that we see a big potential in. We have been following him for a while and we think he will suit our style of play.”

Schade has excelled in Streich’s off-ball structure – something that will unquestionably have tickled Frank’s fancy. Freiburg’s recurrent movement of players is often impeccable, with players from every direction offering quick, forward runs into space to receive. But through playing in wide areas and overloading the left, they are able to take risks at an expeditious frequency, knowing that there are other players in close quarters ready if they lose the ball. Schade therefore appears a suitable fit for this Brentford side, as the German U21 international could slot into a 4-3-3 alongside Bryan Mbeumo and Ivan Toney, whilst also offering the ability and defensive nous to drop back into deeper positions and play as a wide player in a 3-5-2.

Frank confirmed his versatility, expressing that Schade can operate anywhere across the front three positions. He added, “he could play for us on either wing or as the central striker.” Brentford’s aggression in terms of attacking play, quick counter-pressing, and ball-to-feet passing, therefore appears to make Schade a great option to bolster their array of ever-improving technicians.

Whilst a move to Brentford represents an exciting next step in the youngster’s so-far fleeting career, Schade is potentially missing out on what could be an exciting season finale down in Germany’s deep south, as the Black Forest club continue their hunt for an unanticipated Bundesliga title. Currently sitting pretty in second, it’s become clear that finishing in a Champions League position isn’t entirely beyond the realms of possibility either. Contrastingly, amidst the heightened financial competitiveness and prowess at the peak of the Premier League, European football is not likely to be something Brentford will be able to offer anytime soon, even despite their seemingly inexorable rise.

Though the glitz and glamour of England’s highest division reigns supreme once more. Schade has elucidated his desire to play in the Premier League and is probably aware that astute performances here may boost his chances of playing international football. Afforded the luxury of choosing between Germany and Nigeria thanks to his parents, Schade has so-far played youth football for the country of his birth. Hansi Flick has visited Brentford before to suss out fellow German at the club Vitaly Janelt, proving that any player who performs well in technically gifted and well-drilled sides outside the traditional giants of the game, remain firmly in the National trainer’s mind.

GGFN | James Westmacott

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