19 Striker Schalke 04 Germany
2014 has been...
Blessed with wonderful technique and an incredible football brain that allows him to take stock of everything around him, Maximilian Meyer is a joy to watch in full flow. Confident with either foot and a natural groove to his game that links the play all around him, the teenager is another fine example of the Schalke 04 academy producing some of the very best footballers.
In recent years the same academy has helped give Mesut Özil, Manuel Neuer, Benedikt Höwedes and current star of the team Julian Draxler their first few steps in the game. Much like Draxler, who is expected to move on from the club in the coming 12 months, Meyer’s time at Schalke is already numbered and if his development continues, he’ll be another star headed for the biggest competitions in the world.
Lewis Holtby’s departure from Schalke in January 2013 opened the door for Meyer to join the first team squad and a month later, he made his league debut against Mainz. The fact that he marked his 18 minute cameo with a delightful assist – he controlled Jefferson Farfan’s pass as though he had been doing it for years and then laid the ball into Michel Bastos’ path – just backed up the decision of then manager Jens Keller than Meyer was ready for senior action.
Keller kept Meyer in the first team squad for the rest of the season and then used him consistently during 2013/14. Max played 30 times in the Bundesliga, scoring six times and providing another three assists as he established himself as an attacking outlet in the line-up.
Of Meyer’s 45 Bundesliga appearances so far, just nine have lasted for the full 90 minutes (plus whatever injury time was played). There has been an obvious desire not to burn out the teenager before his time, although since Keller left the job we fear that opportunities may dry up for Meyer.
As a player who has the natural desire to go forward, Meyer isn’t going to be the first name on the team sheet for some time under Roberto Di Matteo. The former Chelsea boss has made clear his intentions to tighten up Schalke 04 at the back, and that has seen Meyer return to a place on a the subs bench.
The situation may improve going forward as Di Matteo settles and Meyer continues to develop into a player that the German side can’t afford to be without. For now, he remains a diamond with one too many rough edges.
Having excelled for Schalke’s youth time and been twice awarded the silver Fritz Walter Medal for his age group, Meyer is a player with a lot of potential. At 19, it’s clear that he has lots of growing to do and he’ll definitely be a part of this list for 2015.
We just worry that with the impending departure of Julian Draxler to any one of Europe’s richest clubs, the pressure will then be shifted onto Meyer to lead Schalke. He has the talent to influence games but not yet the consistency to do it week in and week out.
There is a very special player wrapped up in that wonderful ball. It’s on Di Matteo and his coaching staff not to break him, all the while satisfying his own youthful desire to be involved as much as possible. The toughest of balances to strike but totally worth it if it pans out; good luck.
“His coach at Schalke wants him to decide games more on his own but fact that expectations are so great for such a young player speaks volumes of his talent.” – Cristian Nyari
"Max Meyer marked his Bundesliga debut with an assist in Schalke's 2-2 draw with Mainz." - OptaJoe
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