Nabil Bentaleb seems to have settled in nicely in Germany. Spurs’ academy graduate, currently on loan at Schalke for the season ahead of what is expected to be a permanent transfer next summer, has reportedly hit the ground running in the two weeks since moving to Germany.
Bentaleb gave an interview on Schalke’s official website where he talked about his adjustment to German football and what he thinks he can bring to the team.
“There is a really good atmosphere in the team which I have really been able to feel. We have as very young squad that really wants to learn and I am really excited to play at the VELTINS-Arena. I have already heard about the fantastic atmosphere in the stadium and I am looking forward to experiencing it myself - it will certainly be impressive. I have already been charmed by the fans in the away game in Frankfurt, the support there was brilliant.”
Bentaleb made his first appearance in a 16’ cameo at defensive midfield in a 1-0 away loss to Frankfurt, but one that impressed manager Markus Weinzierl enough that he’s considering starting Bentaleb against Bayern Munich in Schalke’s next match. Bentaleb did indicate that his best position is higher up the pitch, something he didn’t get a chance to play much during his time at Spurs.
“I want to bring myself and my qualities to the side. I can play as a ‘number six’ but I prefer to play higher up, but it is up to the coach to decide where he thinks I am best. Even if he says that I have to play at left back. It would be very unfamiliar, but it would be no problem for me. I will always give everything in whatever position I play.”
Bentaleb expounded further on this point and his final season with Spurs in an interview in Bild (paywall) today.
"Last year I had some problems with my fitness, but thank god I am now fit. I worked hard for that and I became a better pro because of my time injured. If not, I would be the dumbest person. A person needs to learn in times like this - I am a more mature man.
"I have heard many positive things [about Germany]. Germany's Bundesliga and England's premier league fight for the title of the best league in the world.
"It will be hard. But I am not scared, I had a few tougher opponents. I cannot wait to experience my first Schalke home game. If the coach starts me, I will give it my all."
It’s early days yet, but if Bentaleb really does have a bright start at Schalke this season it might lend further evidence to the fan-driven theory that Bentaleb was driven out of North London less by his footballing ability than his attitude, or a personality conflict between himself and members of the Tottenham hierarchy.
On the other hand, if the reports are true that Bentaleb’s Schalke contract has a £16m purchase clause, that’s pretty good money for a 21-year old player that wouldn’t be playing for Spurs for whatever reason. Either way, we’ll be watching Bentaleb’s career in Germany this season with great interest.