It’s been an awful season for fans of the Gelsenkirchen club FC Schalke 04. Just a few years ago the club was competing with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund on the European stage. Now, the team is destined for relegation amidst a tumultuous season.
And now comes the icing on this dumpster fire cake.
One of Schalke’s best players in the last three years - American midfielder Weston McKennie — has officially had his option-to-buy rights executed by his current club, Italian giants Juventus.
This was reported on by Fabrizio Romano, and confirmed by both clubs:
Official | Option rights executed for @WMckennie#FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuve— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) March 3, 2021
For all of your work in 0️⃣4️⃣ years at Schalke, we say:— Schalke 04 USA (@s04_us) March 3, 2021
THANK YOU, WES! #SchalkeUs pic.twitter.com/XGfHovrMYw
The fee coming back to the Königsblauen is reportedly around €18.5 million (roughly $22.3 million USD or £15.9 million). According to Romano, there are about €6.5 million worth of fees that could kick in if conditions are met during McKennie’s career.
Confirmed. Juventus have exercised the buy option for Weston McKennie from Schalke for €18.5 million, payable in three years. #Juve— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) March 3, 2021
The value may increase up to additional € 6.5 million on achieving given conditions over the course of the duration of the contract. https://t.co/lsmOVv2DJe
There are some realities when it comes to this situation. Much like the sun rising, this season has proven that Schalke are always in desperate need of money.
Things have been tough financially ever since Chairman Clemens Toennies was ousted from the board. However, I don’t know anyone who would defend keeping him there after he made some incredibly racist statements while in charge at the club.
In the immediate time, yes, it’s a good chunk of cash for a team desperately in need of it. €18.5 million is nothing to scoff at and it’s a good thing the club was able to put themselves in a position to cash-in on players.
Failure to sell younger players at the optimal time has been one of the biggest missteps in the club’s last 10 years. While they have made a good chunk of cash on players like Thilo Kehrer (€37 million to PSG in 2018/2019), Julian Draxler (€43 million to Wolfsburg in 2015/2016) and Leroy Sane (€52 million to Manchester City in 2016/17), they have lost out on just as much money in the form of undervaluing academy players or letting them go for free.
Because in the span of about 7-8 years, they let tens of millions walk out of the Ruhr valley for free. In the same window that Sane left for City, center-back Joel Matip joined Liverpool for free. The year before that, the unassuming free transfer of center-back Christian Fuchs may have stung the Schalke faithful as he became one of the key contributors to a Leicester City team which won the Premier League title. And in more recent years since then the likes of Sead Kolasinac, Max Meyer, Leon Goretzka, and Alexander Nübel have left Schalke on free transfers.
But even when you consider the damage done by failing to gain anything, Schalke have still shown their inability to properly evaluate their own players in accordance with the transfer market. Take Ivan Rakitic for example. When Schalke sold him in the 2010/2011 season, they only managed a fee of €2.5 million. When compared to the Transfermarkt evaluation at the time of €9 million, there was a clear oversight. Sevilla went on to sell him to Barcelona for over seven times what they paid for him.
And this brings me back to McKennie. His option to buy at Juventus was valued at €18.5 million (again, roughly $22.3 million USD). Transfermarkt currently values McKennie at roughly €22.8 million ($27.5 million USD). But even beyond what TM thinks his value is, McKennie needs to have been fully appreciated and realized by his parent club for what he is: a quality holding midfielder aged 22 years beginning to enter his prime. One could imagine that under any other circumstances, a club would demand around €30-35 million for McKennie, but not at Schalke.
It’s just yet another example of a disappointing mistake from the Schalke board. One could imagine how different the team would have performed this year if a player of McKennie’s ability was dictating tempo and pushing the team. Instead, Schalke are left with “what-ifs” as they whiff on another transfer and sink further into the pits of relegation.