Alex Lynch writes a Scout Report report about Schalke’s young playmaker, Leon Goretzka, looking to realise his true potential in German football.
It’s no secret that many of the best German players in the world have come through the ranks at FC Schalke 04 before going on to bigger and brighter things. Names like Julian Draxler, Mesut Ozil,, Benedikt Howedes and Manuel Neuer come to mind, all four of whom won the 2014 World Cup with Germany. And now Schalke are once again rapidly producing some of the best prospects in all of Europe like Max Meyer, Leroy Sane and the topic of this article, the slightly lesser known star Leon Goretzka.
Who is Leon Goretzka?
From an urban area of Germany titled the “Ruhr”, the now 20 year old Leon Goretzka was born in one of the area’s largest cities called Bochum. Since he was born in Bochum, Goretzka started off with local club Werner sv Bochum, but was soon discovered and moved to the main club in the city, German second division side Vfl Bochum. At Vfl Bochum, Goretzka quickly rose through the ranks, and was so highly thought of, that he earned a call up to the German U-16 national team in October of 2010. After that, Goretzka would subsequently earn a call up to the German U-17 team in August of 2011, and by May of 2012, he would captain the German U-17 team in the U-17 European Championship in which, despite a goal from Goretzka, Germany lost the final to the Netherlands.
A few months later, in August of 2012, Goretzka made his Vfl Bochum debut in the German second division against Dynamo Dresden. Later in that August Goretzka would earn a Germany U-19 call up, and after a standout season for Bochum, Goretzka signed for FC Schalke in June of 2013. After some outstanding performances for Schalke, which allowed them to reach the Champions League once again, Goretzka earned a German senior team call up and made his debut against Poland, but later suffered a muscle injury and sat out the 2014 World Cup.
Goretzka in the 2014-15 season sat out for 7 months because of the muscle injury he suffered with Germany, but once again starred for Schalke at the end of the season. This season, Goretzka has maintained a regular spot in the Schalke first team despite the signing of Johannes Geis.
Style of Play, Strengths, and Weaknesses
Leon Goretzka is a player whose playing style is well beyond someone of his age, as he is a physical presence in the midfield that is so rare in today’s game. He is also very calm and good on the ball, and willing to run up the pitch for a shot on goal. A very versatile player, Goretzka can operate either as a defensive midfielder, a central midfielder or a right midfielder.
Because he stands at 6’2, his height allows Goretzka to be terrific at winning the ball in the air, which allows him to score goals with his head, and keep possession for Schalke. Goretzka’s size also makes him ideal at blocking the ball, and he has become an ideal shot and cross blocker, a great trait for any defensive midfielder.
On the topic of defensive midfield, Goretzka’s most important trait is his great tackling ability. Goretzka is a smart and willing tackler, who often wins the ball in the middle of the park for Schalke. He starts counter attacks for Schalke and stops them for the opponents with his tackling ability.
His willingness to tackle is uncharacteristic of midfielders in modern football as we know it. Goretzka, apart with his tackling, also starts attacks for Schalke by getting lots of interceptions in the midfield. Goretzka is an expert at reading where the other teams passes are going and making interceptions.
Even though he is primarily a defensive midfielder, Goretzka possesses a wicked shot from long range, and has scored a few times for Schalke with terrific shots from distance. Despite having lots of great ability, Goretzka isn’t often played on the right due to poor crossing ability. It’s not essential to his game, but limits his ability to be an all around player. He also likes to cut inside and shoot for himself, which is what you want to see in a 20 year old, but he sometimes can get himself out of position or take the radical shot; both are things that disappear with age.
What does the future hold?
Goretzka’s talent is apparent to anyone in world football, which is why clubs from other countries such as Southampton were interested in Goretzka this summer, and he could have some more suitors in around a year’s time. But for now, Goretzka has consistently been in the first team for Schalke this season, and with his performances will likely stay in the first team.
Goretzka has played a handful of games for the German U-21 team, and could at some point earn a senior call up. However with the European Championship and World Cup qualifiers looming it will be tough for Joachim Low to give a 20 year old a chance at playing for the senior team.
Written by Alex Lynch.
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