This season has not gone to plan for Schalke. After finishing second in the 2017/18 campaign, Die Königsblauen are facing a relegation fight that could see them fall into the relegation playoff spot currently occupied by VfB Stuttgart. One of the few bright spots for the Bundesliga giants has been the emergence of young talent, including the prodigious goalkeeper Alexander Nübel.
The 22-year-old has impressed throughout the Rückrunde, with the result that he has dethroned Schalke captain Ralf Fahrmann as the first-choice ‘keeper. According to a report from Sport1, the young German has caught the eye of Bayern Munich, who are in search of an heir to the increasingly injury-prone Manuel Neuer.
In what seems to be an all too common trend, Schalke finds itself at risk of losing a player on a free transfer. Nübel’s contract is set to expire in 2020, which means Schalke are quickly running out of time to renew it. Sport1 reports,
Schalke’s bosses are still hoping to extend Nübel’s contract. “We’re doing everything so that Alex stays long-term. He should become one of the new faces of Schalke,” sporting director Jochen Schneider recently told Bild.
Despite Schalke’s desire to build around Nubel, the player’s agent is less eager to commit his client to a club in transition, especially with the Bavarian brass expressing interest in the ‘keeper. His agent, Stefan Backs, told Sport1:
Alex has the right to have his own thoughts. Existing contracts are not unilateral. If Schalke should generate a large transfer fee with Alex — as with Neuer — then the club will have done good business.
In what seems like an attempt to agitate, Nubel’s agent even questioned Schalke’s desire to hold onto the rising star. Backs said,
Schalke had months of time to have talks and did not do so. Which is the club’s right. Now is the wrong moment for that for our side. Which is our right. Schalke has not yet clarified its own future, which is also a factor.
The tension between the two camps may cause negotiations to stall, allowing Nübel to enter into the final year of his contract. If Schalke cannot reach an agreement during the summer transfer window, the club may be motivated to sell the German rather than risk losing him on a free transfer. Die Königsblauen have a history of allowing valuable assets to walk, including Joel Matip, Sead Kolasinac, and most recently Max Meyer and Bayern’s own Leon Goretzka. Considering their current rebuilding project, they cannot afford to miss out on a handsome fee for such a talented prospect.
Nübel has cemented himself in Schalke’s first XI since January. With 17 appearances across competitions, the youth international has been integral to his side’s efforts to stay out of the relegation zone. Five clean sheets for his struggling club may make the difference between utter disaster and a salvaged campaign.
These performances have already garnered the youngster praise and comparisons to Manuel Neuer himself. At 6’4’’ Nubel cuts a dominating figure, which is backed up by lightning quick reflexes, an impressive ability on the ball, and confidence in the box. Neuer himself has heaped praise on the player identified as his heir apparent for Die Mannschaft and potentially the Bavarian giants. Neuer said,
They will never have a goalkeeper problem at Schalke. Nübel has done his work well, as has Ralf Fährmann.
Although Bayern have been grooming Christian Früchtl to eventually replace Neuer, the day may come sooner than expected and sooner than the 19-year-old ‘keeper is ready. Nübel represents a more seasoned option with loads of potential and time for further development. With only a year remaining on his contract, the fee may be too good to pass up
Should Bayern Munich make a move for Nübel this Summer?