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2017-18 Bundesliga Preview: Schalke looking to bounce back

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Gelsenkirchen on their way back to Europe?

Crystal Palace v FC Schalke 04 - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

As part of our season preview, we will be profiling all 18 clubs in the Bundesliga, and how we think they will fair during the coming season. Today, we will be focusing on Schalke 04.

LAST SEASON

Last summer Schalke made supposedly all the right moves to start fresh and embark on a journey that would finally have them catch up with Dortmund and rival Bayern. They sacked their GM Horst Heldt and coach André Breitenreiter and replaced them with Christian Heidel and Markus Weinzierl, both up and comers in their respective fields. Unfortunately for them it didn’t really pan out as planned.

Weinzierl is already gone after a disastrous season and the premature praise that Heidel received has made way for skepticism. Heidel turned the roster inside out and made a few rather questionable moves. In addition the royal blues were pursued by misfortune with a heap of injuries to some of their most important players.

In the end Schalke finished in 10th place, well behind their goal of qualifying for an international competition. They fared better in the Europa League where they reached the quarterfinals but lost to Ajax Amsterdam.

TRANSFER SUMMARY

Transfers in:

  • Nabil Bentaleb - 19€ million
  • Yevhen Konoplyanka - 12.5€ million
  • Amine Harit - 8€ million
  • Bastian Oczipka - 4.5€ million
  • Pablo Insua - 3.5€ million
  • Michael Langer - Free transfer

Transfers out:

  • Fabian Giefer - 0.75€ million
  • Sead Kolasinac - Free transfer
  • Dennis Aogo - Free transfer
  • Klaas-Jan Huntelaar - Free transfer
  • Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting - Free transfer
  • Haji Wright - Loan
  • Holger Badstuber - Loan ended
  • Abdul Rahman Baba - Loan ended

Schalke have spent a lot this offseason and that is mainly due to the fact they had to buy both Bentaleb and Konoplyanka who were already with them on loan last season. Amine Harit is an exciting young player who can play basically every position on offense. Oczipka is being brought in as Kolasinac’s replacement and Insua to bolster the defense.

On the other hand Schalke let go of a few players that were top earners but did not produce on the pitch last season like Choupo-Moting, Aogo and Huntelaar. Unfortunately for the royal blues they lost arguably their best player from last season in Sead Kolasinac. His contract ran out and Schalke couldn’t convince him to extend.

OUTLOOK

Schalke needs results this season. At least a Europa League berth has to the goal for Schalke and it is kind of a must for them. They are currently sitting on a transfer balance of -46.75€ million which is a lot for a club that still has a substantial amount of debt and has no additional income from international football.

Moreover two of their best players, Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer, have expiring contracts and Schalke is currently refusing to sell. They will need Champions League football to convince them to extend or the money that comes with the competition to replace them adequately in case they do leave for free. It’s a dangerous and bold strategy that could backfire and damage the club for years to come.

In addition they have a new coach in the relatively unproven Domenico Tedesco. Schalke has followed the Bundesliga trend of hiring increasingly young coaches, Tedesco is 31 years old. However he has never coached a Bundesliga team before, he was previously employed at Erzgerbirge Aue in the 2.Bundesliga. In his short reign Tedesco has already turned some heads when he took the captains armband off of Benedikt Höwedes who has been with the club since he’s 13 and gave it Leon Goretzka who will probably be gone next summer.

Schalke will have to deliver this season and they do have the pieces to do it. They are still one of the most talented teams in the league and will hope that they will stay healthy for once. Without the added pressure of midweek games they should have a squad that could challenge for a top-4 spot.

PREDICTION: 5th Place

Schalke is definitely a talented team but they are still behind Bayern, BVB and RB Leipzig in terms of talent. Nevertheless they should be able to compete for the 4th and final Champions League spot with teams like Gladbach, Hoffenheim, Köln and Berlin among others.