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Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are set to go head-to-head for the signing of Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka. The 22-year old is enjoying a decent season for the German outfit, and has racked up 6 goals and 3 assists so far. He is valued at £15.7 million.
Goretzka’s performances have caught the eyes of both the North London clubs along with Italian champions Juventus who all are vying to sign him up. The German international’s contract with the Gelsenkirchen-based club runs with till the summer of 2019.
So who exactly is Leon Goretzka? What will he bring to the table? Let’s find out.
Born in the town of Bochum, Goretzka joined local club Werner SV Bochum as a 4-year old and after two years, he was discovered and signed up by the town’s main club Vfl Bochum. At his new club, Goretzka quickly rose through the ranks and was so highly regarded that he earned a call-up to the German U-16 National Team in the October 2010. Ten months later, in August 2011, he earned a call-up to the German U-17 team and his rise was so rapid that by May 2012, he captained the Germany U-17 side in the U-17 European Championships, where despite a goal from Goretzka, Germany lost to Netherlands.
A few months down the line, in August 2012, Goretzka made his first-team debut at Vfl Bochum in the German second-division against Dynamo Dresden and later that month he earned a call-up to the German U-19 side as well. After an outstanding year with Bochum, where he scored 4 goals and racked up 8 assists, he earned a move to Schalke in the summer of 2013.
His first season for Schalke saw him put in some excellent displays, leading them to a Champions League finish, scoring 5 goals and assisting one. His performances were deservedly rewarded with a call-up to the German national team by coach Joachim Low. He made his debut against Poland. However, due to a muscle injury, he lost a chance of being a part of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
As a result of the torn muscle bundle, Goretzka hardly featured in the 2014/15 for Schalke, making just 10 appearances in the Bundesliga at the end of the season. However, he was back to his flowing best the following season, racking up 2 goals and 5 assists from 34 appearances, playing as a defensive midfielder. He has reserved some of his best performances for this season and has already netted 6 times and has set up 2 goals in 13 games. He has also made 2 more international appearances for Germany this season, one against San Marino and another against Italy, in November last year.
Goretzka is someone who plays with maturity and responsibility that belies his young age. The 22-year old operates as a defensive midfielder in the team, but can easily slot into any of the advanced central midfield roles and can also play as a right-sided midfielder.
Standing very tall at 1.89m, he is an intimidating presence in the middle of the park and uses his physicality well to dominate the opponents. His height gives him a great advantage in the air and makes him a great target from set-pieces. His physique also allows him to make crucial blocks and clearances in his own area, which is a great trait for a defensive midfielder.
Another prominent feature of his game is his excellent tackling. Goretzka is a smart and a willing tackler capable of winning the ball in the middle of the park. Also a great reader of the game, the 22-year old is always a step ahead of his opponents and thwarts them with crucial interceptions. And after winning the ball, he immediately sets his team on counter attacks, with his passing abilities.
Despite playing as the deepest midfielder, Goretzka possesses a penchant for getting forward and unleashing powerful shots from distance and has scored quite a number of goals from distance for Schalke.
His crossing ability is something that isn’t up to the mark, which is why he hasn’t featured out on the right-side that often. When operating on the flank, he is known to cut inside and have a go at the goal but often unsuccessfully. These areas are something that need to be worked upon if he is to develop into a complete player with all-round abilities.
Goretzka’s talent is clear to everyone in the world of football and as a result, he is being chased by world-class clubs. With Schalke struggling at 11th position in the Bundesliga it is believed that the player isn’t willing to extend his contract that is set to expire at the end of the 2018-19 season.
With Arsenal, Tottenham and Juventus all chasing the star midfielder, he will have plenty of options to choose from. However, he might be better served by moving to Arsenal, given the Gunners’ struggle in the central midfield area.