There was very little for Schalke fans to cheer about last season as they went from Vizemeister to relegation candidates in the space of 12 months, finishing in a lowly 14th place. One of the few bright lights in a dismal campaign however was teenage striker Ahmed Kutucu, who has emerged as the next big hope for die Knappen fans.
A big improvement is expected from Schalke this season under new trainer David Wagner and with Ralf Fährmann leaving the club, the fans are looking for a new hero to attach their allegiance to.
Step forward Ahmed Kutucu.
Born in Gelsenkirchen the 19-year-old striker made quite the impact last season in the limited time he was called upon by then-trainer Domenico Tedesco. After making his Bundesliga debut as a substitute against Augsburg on matchday 15, he scored his first goal as a sub two games later against VfB Stuttgart.
His full debut on matchday 21 saw him thrust in at the deep end away at Bayern Munich. Undaunted, the youngster equalised for the Königsblauen at the Allianz Arena before Schalke succumbed to a 3-1 defeat.
Further opportunities to impress in the latter stages of the season were hindered by the fact he had to take exams. Nonetheless, the local lad has been taken to the hearts already of the Veltins Arena faithful. Indeed new Sporting Director Jochen Schneider has quickly recognised the impact Kutucu has made in his brief time.
Speaking after the game against RB Leipzig he said; “People do not expect magical football or miracles, but rather a team that gives everything. When Ahmed Kutucu was called up from the U19 side and won three challenges in a row in midfield, the crowd were on their feet.”
Schalke, a team immensely proud of its roots, want and crave a ‘Malocher’-a grafter, someone to embody the spirit of the club and fight for them every weekend. In Kutucu they may just have found their man.
His father was a miner in Gelsenkirchen for 33 years and he himself identifies heavily with the club and region having joined the as an 11-year-old.
Speaking after a recent pre-season friendly with Rot-Weiß Oberhausen, where his every touch was cheered he said; “I love football and that is the reason I play this sport and devote myself to it.
“At the end of the day I am a Schalker. I was born for this club and I try to do the shirt justice. Our fans recognise that I think.”
The talented striker has come along at just the right time for Schalke after last year’s debacle. Amongst the club’s many problems was a lack of goals with Guido Burgstaller scoring just four and big signing Mark Utah hitting just two all season. With Breel Embolo now decamped to Mönchengladbach and Cedric Teuchert loaned out, the chances of opportunities next season have increased.
He has done himself no disservice with two goals in David’s Wagner’s coaching debut (v RW Oberhausen) at the start of July. Schalke also know that other clubs are already showing an interest with Pep Guardiola’ Manchester City reportedly tracking the forward closely.
Schalke will be relaxed though with a contract running until 2022. Next season however could prove the breakthrough season for the youngster and pave the way for both Schalke’s redemption, and his progression to the next level.
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