When you constantly get promoted and play with footballers who are two or three years your seniors, you know you’ve got the attention of a lot of people. Leon Goretzka of Schalke 04 has proved time and time again he is more than ready to test his skills among the big boys. Had it not been for Roberto Di Matteo’s plans regarding the first team and an injury induced 8-month-long period on the sidelines, who knows what kind of superstar we would be looking at right now. Instead, we’re going to have to wait a bit more until Goretzka grows up and fulfills his true potential. Top Eleven explains what we can expect from the German youngster in the upcoming years.
An impressive résumé is where we’ll start things off. Leon Goretzka captained the Germany U17 squad in a EURO 2012 campaign which saw his country earn second place in a tightly contested match against the Netherlands. Goretzka scored the only goal for his team on that occasion, but eventually faced defeat as they were beaten on penalties. He has been scouted multiple times by the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund and he was called up by Joachim Low for his preliminary squad ahead of the World Cup in 2014. An injury on Leon’s debut against Poland prevented him from taking part in the competition, but the entire experience is no small feat, considering he was born in 1995.
In his first club, 2nd Bundesliga side VfL Bochum, he was a stand-out performer whenever matchdays took place. Standing 189 centimeters tall, he can be a holding midfielder, a playmaker, a wide midfielder or a defensive one. Goretzka’s versatility is therefore one of his most spectacular traits. The ability to perform multiple roles stems from a level of professionalism and dedication hardly expected for a player of his age.
Decision making, concentration and composure, alongside excellent defensive and offensive awareness – these are all abilities which can be trained gradually, but they seem to blend into Goretzka’s character pretty effortlessly. It is no wonder he tries killer through balls, shots from long range and plays from box to box. His technical attributes are as sharp as can be, although he won’t be relying on his dribbling any time soon.
So, he is mature, doesn’t dread big occasions, displays a high work rate and incredible talent for his age. Is there something wrong with Leon Goretzka’s game?
Not really. One can argue that the youngster isn’t among the most explosive midfielders of his generation, but this cannot be expected given his towering figure. Some coaches have criticized his inability to get into chances during set pieces, but this, too, is something he will develop if he gets his playing time. That hasn’t always been the case, but Schalke coach Andre Breitenreiter is well aware of the talent available to him in the form of Germany’s future star.
Currently, Goretzka has almost 700 minutes under his belt in a total of nine games in the Bundesliga and 340 minutes in the Europa League. The goals have yet to come, but he won’t mind. Schalke is a strong team looking to play in the Champions League each year. This means more experience at the very highest level for Leon. He definitely deserves it.
“I have never seen an 18-year-old with so much class and desire,” declared Bochum’s former manager Karsten Neitzel: “The boy will find his way into the world’s best.”
What do you think about Schalke’s youngster? Tell us in the comment section!