The question as to which Bundesliga club had the best summer transfer window would probably start a debate as to whether Borussia Dortmund or Bayern Munich strengthened their squad the most. The team with the worst transfer window? Schalke 04 surely?
The Königsblauen endured a torrid season in 2018/19 and were languishing near the relegation zone for longer than was comfortable for a team which had finished the previous campaign as runners-up. A lack of goals was a major factor in their struggles, but this summer saw them denied over and over in their attempts to strengthen that department with a new signing.
Breel Embolo was sold to Borussia Mönchengladbach, but new sporting director Jochen Schneider has found his hands more than a little tied by Schalke’s reduced spending power and inability to compete with other Bundesliga sides.
Reports this summer linked the Royal Blues with amongst others: Patrik Schick, André Silva, Jean-Kevin Augustin, Cenk Tosun, and Mariano Diaz, but all these strikers were either snapped up by other clubs or financially out of Schalke’s range. Czech forward Schick joined RB Leipzig, Silva moved to Eintracht Frankfurt on loan, while Augustin departed to Monaco.
The biggest humiliation however came when Bundesliga.2 club VfB Stuttgart beat Schalke to the signing of young Congolese striker Silas Wamangituka from FC Paris, because the Swabians were in a better financial position to meet the €8 million fee.
You see, Schalke have seen their ability to compete with the likes of Frankfurt and Hoffenheim (and even Stuttgart) seriously diminished by the poor transfer policy of recent years.
Now he is no longer at the club, it is quite easy to point the finger at previous manager Christian Heidel, but there is no smoke without fire. Whereas clubs like Eintracht and Hoffenheim operate very successfully by buying cheap(ish) and selling high, Schalke in recent years have operated in exactly the opposite manner.
The examples from the Heidel era are numerous. Take Breel Embolo for example, who became the club’s record buy in 2016 at €22.5 million (rising to €27 million with bonuses). His sale to Gladbach this summer for €10 million represents a €17 million loss. Sebastian Rudy was signed from Bayern Munich at the start of last season for €16 million but has now re-joined Hoffenheim on loan after just 21 appearances. Even if the Kraichgauer take up the €6 million purchase option, Schalke will still have made a €10 million loss on the player.
Yevhen Konoplyanka cost the club €12.5 million in 2017 and was sold this summer for €1.5 million. Hamza Mendyl was bought for €7 million and sold recently for as little as €500,000. Nabil Bentaleb signed from Tottenham for €19 million as was on the verge of joining Werder Bremen recently for €5 million as he doesn’t feature in the club’s plans.
If we include Bentaleb, you have five players costing the club a combined €81.5 million, but the club have only brought in €23 million giving the Königsblauen a loss on five players alone of €58.5 million- poor economics in anyone’s book.
Factor in the lack of Champions League/ Europa League income (for the foreseeable future) and the financial situation at the Veltins Arena looks anything but rosy.
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