Schalke’s youth system has pushed through some very noticeable players over recent years, including Manuel Neuer, Mesut Ozil, Benedikt Howedes, who was a surprise left-back for Germany at the World Cup, Jefferson Farfan and Julian Draxler, another youngster tipped for the top.
The attacking talent produced is very good, and the defence isn’t half bad either, but Max Meyer could be the star of the future for Schalke.
At 16 years old, he played the 2011-12 season for the Schalke under-19s and helped the team to win the German under-19’s championship, beating Bayern Munich 2-1 in the final. He played 15 matches during that season, scoring a staggering 11 goals, while also providing 11 assists. This form was noticed by the manager Horst Heldt, who would promote him to the senior team at the age of 17.
Following the departure of Lewis Holtby, who signed for Tottenham, and several injuries to attacking players, it appeared likely that Meyer would get his first team chance very early on. However, Heldt was concerned the sudden rise up the ranks could damage his young star, and therefore kept him as a bench-warmer for many games.
Given his chance
However, on 16th Febuary 2013 he was given his chance. Schalke were losing 2-1 to FSV Mainz 05 in the 72 minute and the young German made an immediate impact, playing in a beautiful pass to Michel Bastos who equalized for Schalke.
For the 2013-14 season, Meyer was issued with the number seven shirt – last worn by Real/Spain legend Raul – and has gone from strength to strength. He scored his first goal in a DFB Pokal match against Darmstadt 98, then scored his first league goal against German giants Borussia Dortmund a week later. Meyer went on to put in a dazzling performance against Chelsea in the Champions League, which exploded him onto the international scene, with the adversary then tabling a £15 million offer for him, which Schalke rejected very quickly.
Meyer has since become a mainstay in the Schalke team, playing 41 games for the senior squad last season. He gained plaudits for his incredible balance, sleek touches, creativity and composure which has drawn him many comparisons to Messi.
But will he be as good as Messi?
Well only time will tell, but he made Joachim Low’s preliminary World Cup squad, and has just recently signed a new contract with Schalke until 2018.
The future seems bright for this 5 foot 8 inch, agile attacking midfielder. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was made the spearhead in a new German midfield for Euro 2016 (as long as the senior squad keep on retiring at the same rate).
I would be surprised, however, if he remained at Schalke for the rest of his contract, with many suitors snapping at Schalke’s heels for the youngster, and their resolve will certainly be tested very soon if the youngster improves on his debut season in the Bundesliga.