Moving to a new club always brings fresh challenges and some moves pay off, whereas others just don’t work out. Rarely however has the career of a player nosedived quite like that of Sebastian Rudy at Schalke 04. Where did it all go wrong for the midfielder in Gelsenkirchen?
From Bayern with hope
When Bayern Munich snapped up both Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy from Hoffenheim in the summer of 2017 it looked like yet another case of the Bavarian giants hoovering up the best talent from their competitors.
Midfielder Rudy had just enjoyed a fantastic season scoring twice and providing nine assists for TSG and his free transfer to Bayern seemed a no-brainier. However, despite winning a Bundesliga medal, he struggled to command a regular starting berth and his €16 million move to Schalke in August last year seemed an ideal opportunity to get himself back on track.
It looked like a match made in heaven with the runners-up from 2017-18 gaining an influential German international able to compliment their side. Indeed Rudy had just come from the Nationalmannschaft’s campaign in Russia and seemed destined to rediscover himself at Schalke.
From hero to zero
Theory and practice are however sometimes not always the same and Rudy’s time at the Veltins Arena was far from a satisfying experience for either party. Having missed all of the Königsblauen’s pre-season, the 29-year-old arrived in Gelsenkirchen with Domenico Tedesco’s side enduring an abysmal start to the season.
He made his debut on matchday 2 in Schalke’s 2-0 home defeat to Hertha Berlin, but lasted just 51 minutes before being substituted by Suat Serdar. Hertha’s Ondrej Duda had given him the runaround and the big money arrival looked hopelessly lost. Kicker gave him an abject match rating of 5, and the rest of the Hinrunde fared little better.
Things then took a real nose-dive in the Rückrunde when away at former club Bayern, he was taken off by coach Tedesco after just 33 minutes. On leaving the field clearly angry, he refused to shake his coach’s hand and later incurred the criticism of sporting director Christian Heidel.
Schalke endured a torrid season and Rudy’s plight mirrored that. In 21 Bundesliga appearances, he completed 90 minutes just nine times and provided no goals or assists. He fared no better in his four Champions League and three DFB Pokal outings. he was a pale shadow of his former self.
An abject season by anyone’s standards and not what was expected following his arrival from Bayern. Surely things could only get better?
In a post-season interview with Goal.com, the midfielder reflected upon his poor season. “I didn’t show what I can do. That’s why I’m disappointed with my personal performances.
“From now on, I will take things a little differently and try to show what makes me strong. I want to prove to my critics wrong, I can do it better – this thought motivates me immensely.
“I underestimated the differences between the clubs. It took me a long time to get used to the Schalke game, which made my time at the start very difficult. That will certainly not happen to me again” Rudy added.
Back to the Kraichgau
Rudy however won’t get the chance to prove himself at Schalke next season with the club deciding to loan him to his previous club Hoffenheim next season, bringing to an end a relationship that never really got going.
“Last season did not go optimally for me, which makes me all the more motivated to return to my former strength here at my former club” Rudy explained at his unveiling.
“To that end, the conditions here at TSG are almost perfect – I know the people at TSG and the conditions at the club, and I know that me and my way of playing football are valued here. I’m looking forward to working together with Alfred and his coaching staff, and so far I’ve only heard good things from my former colleagues.”
Time only will tell whether the former Hoffenheim favourite can rediscover his best in Sinsheim, but at least he has ditched the “unlucky” number 13 shirt than seemed to be synonymous with his time at Schalke.
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