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Kaustubh Pandey writes a detailed scout report about Patrik Schick, Sampdoria’s technically gifted striker.
The Serie A is increasingly becoming the hub for providing youngsters the appropriate platform to prove themselves at the international level. It is, increasingly, overtaking the likes of Bundesliga and the Eredivisie in becoming a prefered destination for starlets to show off their mettle and make sure that they develop in an impeccable manner.
With players like Simone Verdi, Andrea Belotti, Roberto Gagliardini and Mattia Caldara doing well for their clubs and earning recognition among the bigger clubs of Europe, if not just Italy, there is a whole host of players who are looking to make a mark at their respective clubs. While, development of such players is often restricted to only a host of players in the Premier League, almost every club seems to have one or two such players in their ranks.
Apart from the local Italian youngsters who are making waves in the division, there’s no scarcity of foreign talents in there too. Be it Karol Linetty, Franck Kessie or Keita Balde Diao, there are numerous of them lurking around in corners. And one of them, who was captured the eyes of many across Europe in Sampdoria’s Patrik Schick.
Born in the Czech capital of Prague, young Patrik joined hometown club Sparta Prague at a young age and began climbing through the ranks at his club and on the national level, when he was only 15. This was when the forward made his debut for the Czech Republic Under-16’s side and after making just two appearances, he earned a promotion to the Under-17’s outfit too.
Under the then Under-17’s boss Ales Cvancara, Schick made a debut as a 16-year-old in August, 2012 against the Swiss under-17’s side, playing 80 minutes and coming up with a decent performance. Soon, he became a regular under Cvancara and scored seven times in 11 appearances for the side, earning a deserved promotion to the Under-18s side.
Around this time though, the forward had begun to make a mark at Sparta, making a league debut for the Letensti during the first game of the 2014-15 campaign, as his side succumbed to a 3-1 defeat at Teplice, a city in Czech Republic that is situated quite close to the Germany border. A second outing against Sigma Olomouc followed and Patrik played nine minutes of a 5-0 drubbing of the now second division side.
Schick made three more appearances for Sparta that season, out of which one came in the Europa League. During this time, the youngster had already begun to attract some amount of interest from foreign clubs, but Sparta were intent on handing him more first-team experience and ended up loaning him to fellow first division and another Prague based club-Bohemians.
His stint at Bohemians played a pivotal role in elevating his reputation as being one of the best youngsters in Czech Republic. He racked up a tally of seven goals in 27 outings for the Kangaroos and came back as a well-rounded player to Sparta, who made €4 million from his sale to Sampdoria. While few expected him to get a run in the first team as early as he did get one, Schick came on for Ricky Alvarez and made his debut in Samp’s opening game of the campaign against Empoli.
His first goal for the club came in a losing cause, as Juventus picked up a 4-1 win over the Stadio Luigi Ferraris based club, but that was when he latched onto an impressive run of goalscoring form. And having become a rather regular part of the Czech international side too, Schick scored three times in the next six games.
As things stand, Schick has scored 12 times in all competitions for Marco Giampaolo’s men, who have the youngster as their highest goal-getter in the Serie A, alongside Luis Muriel. And as far as national duties go, Schick has appeared three times for the senior side already, making a debut in a 6-0 win over Malta back in May last year, scoring his first ever goal with it.
A striker by trade, Schick has the toolkit to play just in behind the forward, but opportunity to play in that position have been largely limited. He has been deployed as a striker ever since he joined the Blucerchiati and hasn’t played in behind ever since his Sparta Prague days. Up front though, his presence has been a troubling one for the opposition.
6 foot 1 inches tall, Schick’s got a towering physique, but his lanky frame comes in very handy around the six yard area. He may not have bundles of pace up his sleeve, but Schick’s technique and ball control makes him a real threat.
Schick has this knack for using his body well in almost all areas of the pitch. He can shrug off defenders, keep them away from the ball and sometimes act as a classic centre-forward, who pushes the defenders back by holding up the ball. While this isn’t a rather recognizable section of the skill-set that he brings to the plate, Schick drifts away from the centre-half to take up positions around the full-back and the half-spaces around the back-four.
Below, notice how Schick expertly picks out a small gap to the right-back’s side in a game against the Belgian Under-21 side two seasons ago. Picking up the pass isn’t all though, he shows how quick a pair of feet he has by going past a defender in the box as if he isn’t there, despite not having to use too much pace to do so. He doesn’t score, but it is clearly reflective of how well he can use his own abilities to scare defenders.
One more thing that allows him to go past the defender is his wiry body-frame.
Schick has completed 52 percent of his take-ons this season and the combination of the decent amount of pace that he has and his quick feet allow him to do just that. His pace isn’t out of this world-esque, but everything else helps him make up for that.
While, his goal tally this season would be enough to prove that the 21-year-old knows where the goal is, his finishing is as much as 56 percent, which is impressive enough. Bottom left and top right are the areas where he has put the ball almost all of the times in. And the lad loves to hammer them in.
Above is another example of how Schick uses his incredibly blessed feet to weave his way past defenders so easily. A quality finish is certainly found wanting in that case, but the forward is one of the best finishers in the league, when it comes to shot accuracy comparison among the other strikers.
His shooting currently stands at 56 percent, better than a whole host of top Serie A strikers including Torino’s Andrea Belotti( 49 percent), Roma’s Edin Dzeko (50 percent) and Mauro Icardi( 49 percent). Gonzalo Higuain, who has scored 23 times for the Old Lady this season, has exceeded Schick’s shooting accuracy by only two percent.
Sampdoria have managed to make the most of Schick’s abilities by playing him alongside either Fabio Quagliarella or Luis Muriel in a 4-3-1-2 shape that sees 22-year-old Bruno Fernandes play behind the duo. And having been played alongside two proper centre-forwards, Schick has played to his strengths by operating sometimes as a deep-lying forward, who conducts play and creates chances for the other striker.
Being 21 and a forward who isn’t complete, there are bound to be some weaknesses in what kind of a player Schick is. He is already allegedly attracting attention from a host of foreign clubs and the recent Bergkamp flick he came up with against Crotone has forced many to sit up and take notice. But that doesn’t mean that his repertoire doesn’t carry any weaknesses.
One prominent weakness in his overall play is his indecisiveness in the final third. Much like Tottenham’s Harry Kane, he sometimes falls short of having the mentality to make a firm decision about whether to shoot or pass when around the goal. He can pass when he needs to shoot, or he can have a pop at goal when he needs to pass. In fact, in the first graphic above, he could have passed it to the free man inside the box instead of having a crack at goal from a tight angle.
Apart from that, Schick needs to improve his passing accuracy, which currently stands at a dismal 73 percent. If he desires to play up top, alongside more fleet-footed players, he would need to bump up his passing and bring the assurance of being a more complete player to the table.
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