Schalke 04 Season Preview: Can S04 improve on last season?
Weston McKennie in action for Schalke (Getty Images/TF-Images)

Schalke 04 Season Preview: Can S04 improve on last season?

2018/19 was disappointing for Schalke, can they put it behind them and move forward this season? 

gjsportsblog
Gerry Johnston

Schalke 04 will be determined to bounce back from a dreadful campaign last season that saw them finish 14th in the Bundesliga, just five points clear of Stuttgart who ended up relegated via the playoffs. 

Schalke have generally been a team that qualifies for Europe since the turn of the millennium, missing out on qualification just twice in the last 18 years. 

Transfer Business Overview

The marquee signing this summer is 19-year-old defender, Ozan Kubak. Kubak joined Stuttgart in January from Galatasaray but the young Turk was unable to save them from relegation and Schalke have stepped in to ensure that he remains in the Bundesliga. They have paid a fee in the region of €15 million which was €4 million than Stuttgart bought him for. 

Another €13 million was spent on Benito Raman. Raman joins the club from Fortuna Dusseldorf where he managed to net 10 Bundesliga goals last season. In another deal with Fortuna, the new signing from Paderborn, Bernard Tekpetey was sent out on loan for two years. The Ghana international is an attacker and will get more chance to play at Fortuna. 

Schalke also signed free agent goalkeeper, Markus Schubert from Dynamo Dresden and Everton full-back, Jonjoe Kenny on a season-long loan deal. 

Players leaving the club include Breel Embolo who has joined Borussia Monchengladbach for €10 million, Ralf Fahrmann who has been loaned to Norwich City, Sebastian Rudy who has been loaned to Hoffenheim, Cedric Teuchert who has been loaned to Hannover and Benjamin Goller who has gone to Werder Bremen on a free transfer. The veteran right-back, Sascha Riether has also left the club by choosing to call an end to his playing days. 

Manager

Jonjoe Kenny isn't the only ex-Premier League arrival in Gelsenkirchen this summer with former Huddersfield Town manager, David Wagner taking charge of the club this season. 

Wagner began his coaching career under Jurgen Klopp at Mainz before following his former teammate to Borussia Dortmund where he managed the second team. In November 2015, he moved to England to take over Huddersfield. The team struggled to a 19th place finish that season but he put his own stamp on the team that summer and managed to take them up to the Premier League via the playoffs. 

Against all odds, Wagner managed to keep The Terriers up in his first season but departed in January 2019 with the club well adrift at the bottom of the top flight. Wagner spent four months out of the game before being appointed Schalke's manager for the 2019/20 campaign in May. 

Player to Watch

Schalke have had some very promising players in recent seasons with many of their key men moving on to some of the games elite clubs. Weston McKennie joined from the Dallas Academy in 2016 and despite being just 20 years old, he is approaching 50 Bundesliga games and he also has 14 caps for the USA. 

McKennie plays in central midfield but does his best work defensively. He is very good in the air and makes full use of his six-foot one-inch frame. He is already one of Schalke's best players and if he continues to progress in the next few years he can reach the very top of the game. 

One for the Future

McKennie himself is still only 20 along with summer signing, Ozan Kabak who is 19 years old but perhaps the most exciting prospect is Rabbi Matondo

Matondo moved to Germany in January from Manchester City and the Liverpool born Wales international is the latest youngster from a Premier League club to make the move to Germany in search of the regular first-team football that will help with their development. 

Matondo was mostly restricted to coming off the bench last season but with a full preseason behind him, he will be hoping to make more appearances this season. 

Matondo is primarily a right-winger but he has also played on the left, as an attacking midfielder or even as a second striker and at 18 years old he looks to have a great future and this may well be his breakout season. 

Predicted Finish

Last season was a huge disappointment for Schalke. They will be better this season but it's unlikely that we will see a repeat of their performance from 2017/18 when they finished second. European football would be good progress under Wagner although it's more likely to come via the Europa League than the Champions League

 

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