Nico Schulz has completed his previously touted switch from Hertha BSC to Borussia Mönchengladbach for a fee of €3m. The 22-year old’s contract with Borussia will run until 2019.
The move has been met with some degree of bafflement by fans of the Bundesliga as the left back, who is also comfortable at left wing as well, given that in his 98 professional games for Hertha or in his twelve caps for Germany’s under 21s, Schulz had never shone brightly as a potential star of the future, and with Borussia looking at tackling the triple movement of the Bundesliga, Pokal and Champions League this season (and potentially, hopefully, in coming years), the transfer could easily be accused of lacking some sort of star factor.
This however is unfair to a player who has never particularly looked out of place at Bundesliga level – at least, no more than his former teammates, anyway – and while truly impressive moments were few and far between, it should also be mentioned that Hertha have stifled truly impressive talents such as Valentin Stocker – a former Borussia target, incidentally – in recent years. There is also something to be said for having a capable, Bundesliga-experienced backup ready and waiting to fill in where necessary.
Schulz’s move should, initially at least, allow fans of die Fohlen to feel more secure about the depth of their left hand side in the coming years, with only Oscar Wendt – now contracted until 2018 following his new contract on Monday – acting as a recognised left back. While Alvaro Dominguez filled in as a more than competent option on the flank last season, it’s clear to see that he is considered primarily as a centre back by Lucien Favre and thus, with Filip Daems having left the club for KVC Westerlo in the summer, the addition of Schulz is a useful signing by Borussia’s Sporting Director, Max Eberl.
Eberl himself has a stellar transfer record at Borussia Mönchengladbach – the flop of Peniel Mlapa being perhaps the glaring error – and should Schulz join the likes of Marco Reus, Juan Arango, Roman Neustädter, Martin Stranzl, Mike Hanke, Igor De Camargo, Havard Nordtveit, Oscar Wendt, Granit Xhaka, Alvaro Dominguez, Branimir Hrgota, Raffael, Max Kruse, Christoph Kramer, Yann Sommer, Andre Hahn, Fabian Johnson, Ibrahima Traore and Thorgan Hazard as impressive transfers (some, of course, slightly less than others), then Borussia will be in a very strong position on their eft flank.
Schulz graduated from Hertha’s youth academy having joined the club back in 2000 and thus leaves behind a stable situation at Hertha, perhaps hinting at ambitious plans for the future. If that’s the case, he’s at a suitable club; aged just 22, Schulz could potentially learn a lot from his new coach, Lucien Favre, turning the investment of €3m into a very neat deal indeed.
So if Eberl has described Schulz as “a perfect fit to the squad”, who are we mere mortals to judge? Let’s just wait and see, and acknowledge that all transfers aren’t always with the intention of signing the club’s next star. Along with the aforementioned names, Eberl has signed the likes of Mo Idrissou, Anderson Bamba, Matthias Zimmermann, Lukas Rupp, Yuki Otsu, Mathew Leckie, Raul Bobadilla and Thorben Marx.
That’s a mixed bag of candidates – some did a great job in helping the club transition from relegation strugglers to European contenders (we’re looking at you, Thorben), but others were young and couldn’t make the jump, while others swiftly moved on as the club’s trajectory was made clear. Let’s not consign Nico Schulz to either group just yet.