With the transfer window opening on 1st January, Bundesliga Hinrunde Vizemeister Schalke have wasted no time at all in acquiring some new talent with the double signing of striker Cedric Teuchert and attacking midfielder Marko Pjaca. Here at the Bundesliga Fanatic, we give you the lowdown on both Königsblauen newcomers.
With Schalke fans slowly coming to terms with the fact that midfielder Leon Goretzka will be leaving on a free at the end of the season to join Bayern Munich, there is a modicum of excitement at the announcement that both Teuchert and Pjaca will be arriving in time for the start of the Rückrunde.
With his contract due to expire at the end of the season at 1.FC Nürnberg, Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel has moved to sign 20-year-old Cedric Teuchert for a reported initial fee of €1.2 million, which could rise to €2 million.
Werder Bremen were also being linked with the U-21 international, but Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco had identified the youngster as one of his key targets having travelled to watch him twice in person in the Hinrunde. The player himself admitted (in a kicker interview) that his discussions with Tedesco in which the coach convinced him of his fit into his system, as well as discussions with former Nürnberg and current Schalke players Guido Burgstaller and Alessandro Schöpf, sealed the deal for him.
So far for Nürnberg, the forward has scored 6 goals in 15 matches in Bundesliga II and during his time at the Max Morlock Stadion has a record of 11 goals in 41 league games. He joined Nürnberg as a 17-year-old from his hometown club DVV Coburg and is versatile enough to play as the central striker or on either of the flanks in an attacking role.
“Cedric is a young, talented player who has a bold style of play and a good nose for goal,” Domenico Tedesco explained on his arrival. “We want him to be able to take his next steps as a professional with us and we want to help him blossom.”
Joining Teuchert at the Veltins Arena will also be talented midfielder Marko Pjaca on loan from Italian giants Juventus. After impressing for Croatia at the 2016 European Championships, a number of clubs including Liverpool, Inter and AC Milan were reportedly interested in the winger, but it was Juventus who landed him in a deal from Dinamo Zagreb for a reported €23 million.
The Croatian made 14 appearances for the Bianconeri last season in Serie A and scored his first goal for the club in the Champions League first knock-out round against FC Porto. However, his season was cruelly cut short when he suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury playing for his country in a friendly against Estonia in March.
He returned to action with the Juventus youth team in November, but has failed to make an appearance so far in Max Allegri’s first-team, and the decision to allow him to move on loan is seen as way of getting him back to his best.
It had been thought that Pjaca would be used as a bargaining chip in Juve’s attempts to sign Emre Can from Liverpool, but Schalke have pulled off a coup to land the 22-year-old.
“If there’s anyone he reminds me of when he’s on the ball, it’s Karim Benzema,” his former coach at Lokomotiva Tomislav Ivkovic has said. “I’m not saying he’s the new Benzema but he does remind me of him in one-on-one situations. He is one of the rare players who can go both directions”
Pjaca is right-footed but capable of playing on either wing. He prefers to play on the left-hand side, as it gives him the chance to cut inside onto his favoured foot. The youngster has also been used as an attacking midfielder – and even at times as the second striker. His directness, speed and power an ideal fit in Tedesco’s scheme that relies on counterattacks, though it remains to be seen whether he can improve on his decision-making and defensive work rate to earn minutes alongside the Burgstaller, di Santo, Teuchert, Embolo quartet.
Overall, both of these moves seem like low-cost moves with potentially nice rewards, just the type of transfers Christian Heidel has become known for.
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