Leon Goretzka is a player who has gotten a lot of attention this year and Bundesliga stars are always linked to Bayern. Should they make a move?
Who is Leon Goretzka?
If you’re an avid Bundesliga fan, this probably is not a question you’re asking. He has been Schalke’s best player by some distance and coupled with some stellar performances for the German national team, he has become a Bundesliga star.
Even if you have seen Schalke’s current midfield talisman in action, you probably are not familiar with the statistics he has been putting up this year, and you might not know too much about his playing style.
First, we will take a look at the raw numbers Goretzka has produced this year in the league.
Total chances created
Average duels won
There is no doubt that Leon Goretzka is a good player. But statistics only tell part of the story. What kind of player is he?
The closest man to him in Munich is Arturo Vidal. Goretzka is a box-to-box midfielder through and through. He holds onto the ball and makes runs, has an average of 2.6 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game. He’s also not terrible at shooting for a midfielder, with four goals scored and a 56% accuracy rate.
Benefits of signing Goretzka
There are obvious benefits to signing a player like Leon Goretzka. For one, he could potentially solve the question of how Bayern will replace Arturo Vidal when the Chilean decides to leave Bayern Munich. Renato Sanches still has not fully found his feet at Swansea, and there is a legitimate question if the young Portuguese prodigy and his ability to live up to his potential.
Goretzka is proven in the Bundesliga at least, and he can contribute to Bayern right away. He is also astonishingly young for a player who has done so well in top-level football (well, as top level as Schalke can be). At the age of 22, he has already cemented himself as a fixture in a top-four team and has turned in some great performances for the national team. He will almost certainly be on the plane to Russia this summer.
Goretzka could also join Bayern on a free transfer. Schalke are so incompetently run that it is almost pointless to make jokes about them. It is just too easy. The club’s sole purpose is to make hilarious mistakes that the rest of football can benefit from.
In this case, they have managed to botch Leon Goretzka’s contract so bad that his contract will expire in what could be called his breakthrough year for both club and country. To the shock of literally nobody that doesn’t work for Schalke’s top offices, he does not want to renew. Because of this, he has been linked to Barcelona, Liverpool, and of course Bayern. (Wow, one of these things is not like the other, right?)
This means that Goretzka is relatively risk-free. There would be no massive transfer fee going Schalke’s way, and he would be the cheapest available option. In terms of dollar to quality ratio, Bayern probably will not do much better.
Reasons not to sign Goretzka
It all looks good on paper, but there are legitimate reasons for Bayern to want to avoid signing Leon Goretzka. The biggest problem is that there is a question as to if Goretzka would fit into the game plan and system that Bayern have been building to for the last decade.
Ever since Bayern employed Louis van Gaal, they have been shifting towards a possession based system. Van Gaal had a specific system that demanded possession. Jupp Heynckes’s Bayern (then and now) was a team that certainly liked to have a bulk of it but could do without it. Then Pep Guardiola arrived, and that truly cemented Bayern’s desire to be a possession team.
For a player to fit into a possession system, they require two important qualities. Good passing, and an ability to react well under pressure. Leon Goretzka is not exactly world-class and does not show much promise in these categories.
His passing is not that great, with only a 75.8% success rate. He also only averages 37.2 passes per game, which is not that many. Comparing him to a player like Arturo Vidal for example, who has a success rate of 89.4% and averages 54.5 passes per game you get an idea of how poor Goretzka really is in this regard. Not only does he not pass the ball much, but he is not particularly good at it when he does either.
The fact that he does give the ball away is another indicator that he probably does not react well to pressure, which is very important for teams that play a possession based system. He can hold the ball decently, but he is best when making runs with the ball. If Goretzka is under pressure, he is unlikely to make the right decision when moving it. The truth is of all the clubs that are interested, the one that would best suit him right now is probably Liverpool, where he could play under Jürgen Klopp.
There is no doubt that Leon Goretzka has potential, but the real question is how it would work out. He certainly has some issues, and perhaps those can be coached. Stunting his growth as a player and spending money on wages remain two risks.
A good signing?
Financially, he is a low-risk transfer. A good coach could probably work on the potential systemic issues that exist for Leon Goretzka and he could become world-class at Bayern Munich, but he is not the guaranteed star – at least for now.
Note: All statistics taken from whoscored.com and squawka.com