Intensive training alone is unlikely to be enough to save FC Schalke 04. New players are needed, everyone agrees. But does S04 go all-in or the Schalke way?
For the pros of the FC Schalke 04 there is still a performance test on Tuesday (November 15th, 2022) to check the current physical performance level. Of course, it should also serve as a control when preparations for the second half of the season start after the holiday on December 1st. In all likelihood, 17 players will then take part in Thomas Reis’ sweaty work. Only Tom Krauss (with the U21 national team), Alex Kral (with the Czech Republic at the World Cup) and Maya Yoshida (with Japan at the World Cup) will not be there.
“We still have something to do athletically and football-wise. We have to move the limit up,” said Schalke’s sporting director Peter Knäbel on Monday evening, looking ahead to the two-month winter break. Above all, the physical deficits that became apparent in some Bundesliga games in the first few months should be the easiest to remedy in the coming weeks and months.
Little financial leeway
Schalke’s big goal is to stay up in the Bundesliga. A task that seems almost hopeless against the background of only nine measly points after 15 games. Nevertheless: Knäbel and his team of four around Gerald Asamoah (head of the licensed player department), René Grotus (referent Sports), Mario Grevelhörster (Team Manager) and André Hechelmann (Chief Scout) will use this week to lay down all the cornerstones for new signings. Of course, money plays an important role in this. “We have a little leeway,” Knäbel said. “We will now clarify everything internally.”
Schalke sports director Peter Knäbel
Not least due to the recent sale of Amine Harit to Olympique Lyon (for five million euros), the club has short-term investment opportunities of around three million euros. The Schalke management and those responsible for the sport around coach Reis agree that there is an urgent need for reinforcements.
increase in the value of the squad
The club’s dilemma: The immensely high mountain of debt (over 180 million euros) has a significant impact on the approach. Therefore, those responsible have made it their task to increase the value of the current squad whenever possible. Which also has a concrete impact on the next licensing procedure by the German Football League (DFL) in the Bundesliga and also in the 2nd Bundesliga.
If you loan players for the second half of the season without a purchase option (not even for the 2nd division), this would initially contradict Schalke’s business model. Because loan players would be gone again after the season and with it the loan fee and the salary that the club paid for the player. A scenario that S04 can hardly afford.
All-in or longer-term future?
In the best case, Schalke will buy new professionals – which would automatically increase the squad value. The problem: Schalke probably needs at least two, if not a total of three, higher-quality professionals for attack, midfield and defense than they have been in the squad so far – to still have a realistic chance of staying up in the league. In view of the limited financial possibilities, the scope appears to be extremely small.
The question will therefore be: Will Schalke go all-in and try to avoid relegation in the short term with (loan) players without a purchase option? Or do you prefer to focus on the long-term future (purchase or loan with purchase option also for the 2nd league)? In this case they would still have the theoretical chance of remaining in the Bundesliga – which would be the optimal case in this procedure. And if they were relegated again, they would (can) have the player values at their disposal.
It is also a fact that if new players come to the club during the winter break, the same number of professionals would have to leave Schalke. “The size of the squad remains the same,” said Knäbel. There are currently 24 players under contract with S04. The new players should be in Gelsenkirchen by January 1st at the latest to fly to the training camp in Turkey (January 2nd to 11th).