Manuel Veth –
Christian Heidel has done it again. The Schalke 04 sporting director managed to beat out RB Leipzig by signing Bayern’s Sebastian Rudy for €16 million.
Leipzig needed to prioritise the signing of Ademola Lookman and, therefore, stepped away from a potential deal opening the door for Schalke to make the signing. Rudy, who spent one season at Bayern, will sign a four-year contract at last year’s Bundesliga runners-up.
“We are happy that we could convince Sebastian to join Schalke. We are getting a technical player with a high football intelligence, who has shown his talent on the international stage,” head coach Domenico Tedesco told the media on Monday. “We are certain: his qualities and experience will enrich our young team and help us right away.” Tedesco further added.
“I am convinced by the direction this club has taken, and I want to be part of it,” Sebastian Rudy said. “Furthermore, I am looking forward to the fans and the atmosphere at Schalke”, Rudy added.
Sebastian Rudy filling the void left by Meyer and Goretzka
Rudy’s addition will further help Schalke to fill the void left by Max Meyer (Crystal Palace) and Leon Goretzka (Bayern München). Both Meyer and Goretzka played big parts in Schalke’s second-place finish last season.
Tedesco re-invented Max Meyer to a certain extent last season. Meyer labelled a playmaker when first breaking into Schalke’s first eleven, was dropped deeper into the midfield playing more of a number eight and even a number six role at times for Schalke.
Despite his lack of height, it was a position that suited Meyer well. The little magician was one of the biggest revelations of the 2017/18 season and only his refusal to sign a new contract at Schalke stopped Meyer from finishing the season in style as he was suspended by the club for the last three matchdays.
Although Max Meyer was left out of the squad for the last three games and further failed to record an assist or goal last season, he was an essential part of Tedesco’s setup. Playing in a deeper role Meyer helped to stabilise Schalke’s midfield by completing 89.1% of his the 43.9 passes he played on average per season.
Meyer’s ability to control the midfield area and quickly move the ball from the defensive third to the attacking third made him the perfect player for the Tedesco system. The 32-year-old head coach has managed to propel Schalke up the table last season by capitalising on midfield stability and a conservative attacking approach that made Schalke the best of the rest.
With Meyer gone that stability has been under threat even with new arrivals Suat Serdar and Omar Mascarell Schalke still lacked a player that could control the middle of the park going into the season. While Mascarell was brought in to give more steel to Schalke’s midfield the club hopes that Serdar medium-term could fill the void left by Leon Goretzka.
Sebastian Rudy – What can he bring to Schalke?
First and foremost Sebastian Rudy brings stability. The best example of this was visible at the World Cup. Sebastian Rudy was given the start on matchday 2 of the group stage when Germany played Sweden.
With Rudy on the field, Germany were in complete control of the match. Then in the 31′ minute, the midfielder had to be taken off with a broken nose. Only one minute later Sweden scored, and Germany for the entire rest of the match failed to gain control – despite ultimately winning the game 2-1.
In retrospect it would have been interesting to see what would have happened would have Sebastian Rudy played in the final World Cup game for Germany. With his ability to drop deep and carry the ball forward the 28-year-old nicely complemented Toni Kroos at the opening stages of the game against Sweden – it was no accident that Kroos’ mistake that led to Sweden’s opener occurred right after Rudy came off.
In those first 31 minutes, Sebastian Rudy managed to complete every single one of his 17 passes playing with a calmness that Bayern and Hoffenheim fans have witnessed on countless occasions in the last few seasons. That pass completion rate would have likely gone down had Rudy finished the match, of course, but looking at his numbers at Bayern last season suggests that there would not have been many misplayed passes at the end of the game.
For Bayern in 2018/19 Sebastian Rudy, for example, completed 92.4% of his passes in five Champions League games and 89.9% in 27 Bundesliga games. The previous year with Hoffenheim, where he often played a more advanced role in a similar tactical system that Tedesco plays at Schalke, Rudy managed to complete 80.6% of his passes but also managed to collect nine assists (as opposed to four for Bayern).
The significant discrepancy between the two values can be explained by the different playing styles. Bayern traditionally controls much of the possession throughout a game. Hoffenheim, on the other hand, are a quick transition team, which requires midfielders to play more risky passes and also fewer shorter passes to other midfielders.
Hence, the values that we get from Hoffenheim in 2017/18 will represent a much better indication of what sort of player Schalke will get then the numbers that he created at his one year stint at Bayern. Furthermore, given that Schalke signed Mascarell and also have Nabil Bentaleb in the squad expect Sebastian Rudy to be given a more creative role at Schalke.
With this in mind, Schalke will be given a creative controlling box-to-box midfielder, who will be able to both set the tune in Schalke’s midfield but also contribute offensively. For Hoffenheim Rudy managed two goals and nine assists in 2016/17 the sort of base value that Schalke fans can look forward to when Rudy finally puts on the royal blue shirt next Sunday against Hertha Berlin.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.