This summer transfer window has seen no shortage of action. While top dogs of German football in Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are constantly on the eye-out for improving their roster, Schalke and Eintracht Frankfurt find themselves on the brink of a potential squad overhaul in the summer. Two Traditionsvereine, burdened with high expectations, coupled with a task of further solidifying (Schalke) or reclaiming (Frankfurt) their status as a Bundesliga top dogs, are unfortunately, stuck on the road of transition.
Both clubs have had to deal with a fair amount of departures this season. Eintracht Frankfurt had to return a series of loanees back to their parent clubs, a list which includes the Real Madrid defensive prodigy Jesus Vallejo, who was already unveiled at the Bernabeu. Schalke, on the other hand, have already released the likes of Dennis Aogo, Eric Maxim Choupo Moting and legendary Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar as free agents(per transfermarkt), while Arsenal were quick to pounce on highly rated fullback Sead Kolasinac.
Kolasinac’s free transfer in particular, left a huge hole in the backline for die Königsblauen.
In a turn of events, however, the Ruhr giants have strongly identified Frankfurt’s Bastian Oczipka as their replacement for the talented Bosnian fullback.
Frankfurt sporting director Fredi Bobic has already confirmed that the German left back has left their training camp in Chula Vista, CA on Wednesday.
Oczipka wanted to leave
Perhaps the worst kept secret of all, Bobic also clarified that the 28-year-old pro wanted to leave the club this summer, despite Eintracht’s continuous efforts to persuade the player to stay at the club, by offering a contract extension.
”You do not like to lose a player like that, but he wanted to leave” – Bobic said, as per Hessenschau.de. The player only had one year left on his contract, and could have left the club for free next summer, therefore, was given a green light by the board.
Oczipka, himself has also commented regarding his imminent change to Schalke. “My phone’s been buzzing up all night, and at 6’o clock, [Christian]Heidel told me that everything could go fast now. Then at 7’o clock [Fredi]Bobic and [Niko]Kovac also talked to me” – he told Bild.
So what does the move mean to each of the clubs and for Bastian Oczipka himself? Let’s figure out, using the newly implemented grading system, where we will basically discuss using different point of views and ultimately, grade them as to how they will pan out for each clubs.
So without further ado, let’s head to Gelsenkirchen!
FC Schalke: A
Schalke never gets old! After sacking previous trainer Markus Weinzierl in the most Schalkesque way, the Royal Blues weren’t shy to appoint 31-year-old Domenico Tedesco as their new coach. It’ll no doubt be interesting to see whether the young coach can be successful with his new team but all the skepticism aside, Bastian Oczipka is a good addition to the team.
Schalke have/had many problems in recent times, and lack of quality fullbacks is one of them. Be it counterattacking or possession based football, having a smart fullback is very important these days for any team.
From the images below, you can tell that Schalke have a strong tendency to play through the wings while in possession. Now there are a few reasons behind their said system to attack from the wings, with one being the philosophy of aggressive forward pressing implemented by most of the Bundesliga teams.
Here are a couple of examples, of Markus Weinzierl’s men attacking from the flanks. Notice the huge dots on Sead Kolasinac and Sascha Riether. They usually team up with the nearest supporting midfielder and attacker to form a triangle, which eventually becomes very useful in a lot of aspects within their gameplay, particularly, in making the transition from defense to attack, or by slowly raging towards the opposition.
Now the problem lies with having the likes of Dennis Aogo or Atsuto Uchida while using this systep at the same time. The fact that the aforementioned fullbacks are pretty bad at what they do drags the process down. In addition, both of the players haven’t played a lot recently, which in truth, should completely scrap them out of the equation. Coke is an experienced individual but lacks the pace and venom about him. And converted attacker Alessandro Schöpf is not really a wingback by trade. Despite his good performance against BVB in particular, when the Revierderby ended 1:1 in April last season, Schöpf can be very vulnerable considering his lack of physical power and experience in the defensive department.
That’s where Oczipka comes to play. The 28-year-old is very good on the ball and undoubtedly one of Frankfurt’s smartest players on the pitch. He leads in a quite a lot of charts for Frankfurt last season. Attempting and completing the most number of dribbles(146/95) than any other player in the team, whilst also completing most passes(1512) with an 82% passing accuracy certainly provides us with some clear indication about his qualities. Surprisingly,(or unsurprisingly), the numbers of both Oczipka and Kolasinac tickle very close to each other. Oczipka’s 4.6 interceptions, 3.1 tackles is somehow bettered by Kolasinac(5 interceptions and 5 tackles) while the former leads in dribbles(4.3), passes into the box(4.7) and key passes(1.8, with a greater accuracy of 59%) compared to Kolasinac’s 2.1 dribbles, 3.1 passes into the box and 1.8 key passes(with 43% accuracy). [Note: All the stats are based on 90min metrics and are taken from Instat]
If stats aren’t enough to make my point clear., let me add that Oczipka is a great crosser of the ball, a trait which should be highly valued by new coach Tedesco.
Oczipka is a fine player, albeit one not as talented as departing Bosnian fullback Sead Kolasinac. But ultimately, for a club, previously having Dennis Aogo, Atsuto Uchida or Coke, Oczipka, along with their other new signing Pablo Insua, really adds some steel into the backline. But of course, he is on the back of, perhaps, his greatest season ever in his career and at 28, he doesn’t offer a great deal of promise for the future, in contrast to the current Arsenal man, who, at just 24, should become a pivotal figure for the Gunners in coming years!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with signing Bastian Oczipka. He has shown in the past that he can cope with even the most rigid defensive system. And made no mistake, he’s both, an upgrade to Aogo/Coke/Uchida and also a replacement for Sead Kolasinac. Schalke played it smart.
Eintacht Frankfurt: B
Oczipka’s previous valuation of €7m, as reported by SportBILD seemed not too bad for an Eintracht fan’s perspectives. However, now it seems as if the left back is ready to move for a fee of around €4.5m, which is a far cry from Bild’s previous report.
None can deny Oczipka’s influence in Eintracht’s great campaign last season. He was one of the most important players in Niko Kovac’s system, which mostly focused on attacking from wingplay, somewhat similar to Schalke, except it’s a far more aggressive compared to the Royal Blues, more like Atletico’s offensive scheme under Diego Simeone, where the two fullbacks play an indispensable role.
As a vice versa of Atleti, the right wingback usually plays a more attacking role in the team while the left back, the role Oczipka played, stays relatively deeper and is often seen composing the backline. On many occasions, the left back joins in amongst the center backs when a defender leaves his line to intercept or make a tackle.
He truly is a loss for Eintracht in many ways.
So the big question remains! Who will replace Oczipka?
Eintracht Frankfurt have done some good business this summer. Sebastien Haller, Gelson Fernandes, Jonathan de Guzman will give the fans a lot of hope but at the same time, the Eagles lack defensive reinforcements with Jesus Vallejo, as mentioned earlier, has gone back to his parent club Real Madrid along with Michael Hector. The departure of Oczipka only adds more burden for the board as they look to successfully replace the departing defenders.
After the departure, Niko Kovac will have Taleb Tawatha as the only remaining player who can directly replace Oczipka. Tawatha was signed from Maccabi Haifa for €1.2m last summer. The 25-year-old did feature in a lot games in the Rückrunde after missing out the entire Hinrunde due to ruptured knee ligament.
The Israel international isn’t as good as Oczipka but he seemed to be a fairly interesting customer, and coach Niko Kovac would love to see more of him next season. As for finding a replacement on the ole Transfermarkt, Fredi Bobic is reportedly working on it. As he confirmed “We are looking for alternatives, and we have also done some things in the background” via Hessenschau.de.
There are a few replacements available in the transfer market, in case if they’re willing to spend more cash. Ingolstadt’s Markus Suttner was an interesting option but the Austrian moved to newly promoted English club Brighton and Hove Albion. The Eagles could fancy someone from the lower divisions, but coverage at the left back position is now a need in Frankfurt.