19 Midfielder SK Rapid Wien Austria
2014 has been…
A coming of age for Louis Schaub. The SK Rapid Wien teenager wasn’t a guaranteed starter in 2013/14 but returned after the summer as an undeniably important player for Die Grün-Weißen after they lost two of their more talismanic stars to various arms of a certain energy drink giant.
In the absence of Terrence Boyd (now with Red Bull Leipzig) and Marcel Sabitzer (Red Bull Salzburg), Schaub has been challenged to step up and do his thing. He’s made a very impressive start to life in the first eleven under Rapid’s likeable coach Zoran Barisic, who tended to introduce him last season when he needed something to happen.
Schaub was born in Germany and is the son of Fred, a former player with Hannover 96 and Eintracht Frankfurt, amongst others. When Louis was eight years old Fred was killed in a car accident and his son suffered a broken collarbone. Now 19, Louis is quick to express his gratitude to his mother.
Rapid Wien is a difficult team for a young playmaker to make a mark in. They have a justified reputation for being involved in less than entertaining games and for wastefulness in front of goal, and, in that sense, players of Schaub’s type are up against it from the start.
His first touch is decent and he spends his matches shooting around the front line. He’ll start on the right, where Barisic likes to have him cutting inside, but he’ll also move to the left and play off a frontman at times, and he’ll vary from a high wing position to more of an outside forward spot without any fuss.
The supporters get excited when he’s on the ball with space in front of him. He dribbles well, has a nice close touch and a good knack for beating a man. In fact, he rarely seems to have trouble riding the first challenge to come his way, though he does sometimes run into problems afterwards.
Most of his decisions are good, however; he picks the right moment to set off on a dribble, astutely observing when a channel opens up for him, but the runs aren’t always effective. But with his ambition and confidence he’s going to do some teams a lot of damage on the ball. He’s got a lovely drop of the shoulder and a good eye for a short, incisive pass.
Schaub is a tenacious player with and without the ball. He’s difficult to dispossess physically – the result of his own bite and also his work on physical strength since becoming a senior player – and he works back often, never afraid to get stuck in. He frequently wins the ball in his own half and throws in the occasional dirty little challenge to boot. Sabitzer will attest to that.
His set pieces are quickly improving and some other aspects will need to follow. He’s too left-footed and his reluctance to shoot with his right foot can be problematic. Consistency is also an issue, as it so often is with teenagers, and he ranges from playing at seemingly a higher tempo than the rest of the team to drifting out of a game altogether.
Aside from tightening up some of the basics and working on having a more consistent effect on matches, Schaub’s big challenge is to fulfil his potential. If he can become the thrilling, skilful attacker he’s showing himself to be at increasingly frequent intervals, he’ll be the darling of Rapid’s supporters, whose Rapid-Viertelstunde deserves a prospect like Schaub to live up to his potential.
He’s played for Austria at Under-16, Under-17, Under-19 and now Under-21 levels, and it won’t be too long before a full national team call-up comes his way. There, he will face the challenge of translating his energy and creativity onto a stage where Austria sorely need it.
As for his personal goals, those will remain undisclosed; Schaub says they have no place in the public arena. Despite interest from Red Bull Salzburg he wants to remain with Rapid for a while to continue his development, but eventually would like to play in the German Bundesliga. In truth, he’s more likely to play against than for the Bayern Munich team he supports, but a move across the border should be comfortably within his reach.
Who could begrudge him that? Schaub has overcome some tricky obstacles in life and football already, and clearly enjoys his job. “Football is the most beautiful thing in the world,” he told Kurier in January. Amen.
"Schaub is quite rightly the apple of Rapid’s eye, but they must be patient with him. He already has a lot of responsibility and will grow into a regular match winner, but he’s not yet the finished product and the quiet games will continue too. The ability is there, and Schaub is an exciting prospect for Austrian football." - Chris Nee
"The Rapid Wien teenager has played a hand in 12 goals since July 2013 in the Austrian Bundesliga; scoring five and assisting seven." - OptaJoe
C A bit of spit and polish and the future will be bright
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