To quote 1980’s UK pop star Paul Young: ‘Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home’, but in the case of German World Cup winner André Schürrle, that is easier said than done. The former Mainz talent, who formed part of the infamous ‘Bruchweg Boys’ alongside Lewis Holtby and Ádám Szalai has been on quite the odyssey since leaving the Opel Arena and his two-year loan transfer from Borussia Dortmund to Fulham has seen him become the first German player to reach an accumulated transfer value of over €100 million.
So just why has his talent never really found a satisfactory outlet?
When you look solely at his achievement list- two DFB Pokal wins, an English Premier League title as well as the small matter of a World Cup triumph, then it seems as if André Schürrle’s career has been an outright success, but there remains a nagging doubt that since leaving Mainz back in 2011 as a rising star, his talent has not reached the levels predicted and despite a number of high-profile moves, that star has rather fizzled out.
Schürrle’s breakout season with the Nullfünfer came in 2010-11 when he contributed 14 league goals in the season which saw Mainz finish 5th under Thomas Tuchel and qualify for Europe. It had already been revealed in September of 2010 that the attacker would be moving to Bayer Leverkusen at the end of the season, and the €8.5 million the Werkself paid looked a steal following his tremendous exploits that season.
Two seasons at the Bay Arena saw Schürrle score 18 Bundesliga goals as well as contributing 13 assists in his 65 appearances for the club. While not spectacular, it was enough to ignite the interest of Premier League side Chelsea, who with the endless pockets of Roman Abramovich shelled out €22 million to take the German international to London.
However, like so many others, the big price tag and the stiff competition proved a burden for Schürrle and in almost two years at the club, he was limited to just 20 starts and eventually fell foul of Jose Mourinho’s lack of faith in him. The player himself though, didn’t see his time in the Premier League as a failure.
“I definitely did not fail at Chelsea,” he told Kicker. “I always had my chance, scored important goals in the first season. At the end I just wanted the transfer, although Jose Mourinho wanted me to stay. But I did not feel the complete backing.”
It was while at Chelsea that he was called into the Germany squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which was capped with him coming on to replace Christoph Kramer and ultimately providing the assist for Mario Götze’s winning goal in the final.
Armed with a Premier League winners medal and World Cup winners medal, it was a third move in four years for the player with VfL Wolfsburg paying Chelsea €10 million more than they had signed him for and bringing Schürrle back to the Bundesliga. But again he didn’t set the world on fire at Wolfsburg and failed to hit any real consistent form, despite showing his quality in fits and starts. A purple patch in the spring of 2016 saw him score eight goals in the final ten league games and his former coach at Mainz Thomas Tuchel persuaded Borussia Dortmund to sign him for €30 million.
He’s had two hugely average (below average?) seasons at Dortmund with 2 goals in 15 games (2016-17) and then 1 goal in 18 appearances (2017-18). Yet again the big money spent on him hasn’t brought the expected reward and Dortmund have come to realise they don’t need Schürrle with better options in his position (Jadon Sancho, Christian Pulisic, Sergio Gomez are all ahead of him in the queue for a starting berth).
A return to the Premier League will give the wide man another chance to prove the growing number of doubters wrong. The huge transfer fees he’s accumulated are of no fault of Schürrle’s and probably don’t truly reflect his real worth as a footballer. Consistency and a regular supply of goals/ assists have been a shortcoming as well as some questioning his temperament.
After signing, Schürrle told fulhamfctv: “I’m so happy to be here, I can’t wait to get started. Fulham were the first club that showed interest in me – that was something that I appreciated a lot, and one of the reasons I wanted to come here.
“I love ball possession, I love attacking, and I love making runs, so I think it could be perfect. I have to fight for my place and I have to show my quality so that I can be a member who really helps the team.”
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