Many well-known goal scorers first glance at the list of the Golden Shoe contenders before looking at their club’s position in the table at the end of the weekend: On Sunday, how many times did Ciro Immobile score again? I’m ahead of Mo Salah by how many points. Although Uefa’s annual competition for Europe’s greatest striker is intrinsically vain and severely undercuts the entire idea of team sport, what are you expected to do when it’s an Oscar for best? Center forward is a career that both demands and encourages selfishness.
In this regard, Patrik Schick’s season has been a watershed moment. Bayer Leverkusen’s attacker has established himself in the world of elite gunners at the age of 26. He is tied for fourth position on points with Kylian Mbappé, and the three players ahead of him have been part of Europe’s top leagues’ elite society of shooters for many years: Robert Lewandowski, Ciro Immobile, and Karim Benzema.
Rudi Völler first noticed Schick in the Italian league.
Experts predicted he may join this group a few years ago. As Simon Rolfes puts it, “it was always foreseeable that as a striker he would have an extraordinarily big number of components.” It just took a while for the pieces to come together as nicely as they did at Bayer Leverkusen last season. Rolfes, the sports director, quickly thinks of a few things Schick has to offer: “He has a wonderful left-hand shot, is incredibly strong in the air, is tall, agile, swift – and can kick pretty well.” In 26 appearances, the national player has scored 24 goals, a quota worthy of an Oscar.
Before he came to Bayer 04 on loan from RB Leipzig three years ago, the Czech attacker had already made an impression on the local audience. While Bayer CEO Rudi Völler scouted Schick, who plays for Sampdoria Genoa and AS Roma, from the comfort of his living room (Völler is a big fan of Italian Serie A), the club’s scouts traveled across Europe to get a closer look at him. During an international match in 2018, Rolfes took a close look at him. When Schick returned to Rome after his Leipzig commitment in the summer of 2020, Bayer went on the attack because, shockingly, RB had not used the purchase option.
When Rolfes, 40, is questioned about Schick these days, the same questions come up: How long can Bayer keep him? What is the estimated cost? Who will take his place? The bazaar, which is open 24 hours a day, is an integral element of modern football, and after two years of being slowed by the Corona crisis, business is finally picking up again. Rolfes still gives off a laid-back vibe.
It’s evident to him that the competition’s eyes have been on Schick for a long time, especially since the sale of Erling Haaland to Manchester City and the possibility of moves from Mbappé and possibly even Lewandowski have re-ignited the market for five-star goal scorers. If Lewandowski does not want to extend his contract with FC Bayern, which runs out in the summer of 2023, as reported by Bild, Schick would be a perfect fit for Munich.
However, for the time being, Rolfes reiterates what has already been said multiple times: Schick is “in principle not for sale,” and “no one needs to report it.” Of course, he is still unable to provide a guarantee. The situation in European upper-class clubs is now again such that outstanding players are involved in sums that are above all principles. For example, the signing of the contract by Mbappé, who is formally free, should be worth a three-digit million dollar sum.
The experts Diaby and Wirtz advertise for Leverkusen.
According to Rolfes, Schick, who is an introvert, has shown no desire to change and has always made it clear that he is at ease with the club. “He is not a striker who works everywhere at the touch of a button,” the Bayer boss says. The conditions must be ideal for him to develop his game to its full potential; during his two years at AS Roma, the Czech forward couldn’t find his spot because Edin Dzeko was already there. The trip to Leipzig served as an escape as well.
If Patrik Schick is still interested in joining Bayer in the summer, the club may provide him with more compelling reasons in addition to a regular starting spot in the Champions League. Moussa Diaby and Florian Wirtz are two of the template suppliers who make a center forward pleased. Wirtz is recovering from a cruciate ligament tear, but his absence may be made up with newcomers until he returns in the fall. Simon Rolfes assures, “We are working on providing a suitable environment for Patrik on the pitch.”