A former (and possibly current) Tottenham Hotspur midfield target is for sure going to be available this summer. Bundesliga side Schalke announced via its official Twitter that 22-year old German international Max Meyer will be leaving the club on a free transfer at the end of the season.
Meyer has been linked with a move to Spurs for a while now, but it was one of those nebulous “he was on a list” kinds of links. There never seemed to be a whole lot of interest in bringing Meyer to North London from what I could tell. That said, now that he’ll be leaving on a free, you kind of wonder if Spurs (along with I’m sure a slew of other clubs) will start to take another look at him.
Meyer was somewhat transformed by Schalke manager Domenico Tedesco this season, who took the misfiring attacking midfielder from 2016-17 and moved him into a deeper role in the pivot. The result was an improved Meyer who proved to be a surprisingly decent defensive midfielder.
Meyer’s passing was pretty decent in what was essentially a box to box controlling midfield role, and he’s been able to keep ahold of the ball, which is surprising considering he’s not built like a tank. Meyer also has a good speed and agility which has served him well when he has taken on opponents in midfield — he’s not afraid to try and dribble past people.
But now the bad news. His numbers again don’t exactly leap off the page at you -- he has no goals and no assists (but six yellow card) in 1700 minutes of Bundesliga with Schalke this season, which doesn’t sound particularly great. His one goal and one assist this season in all competitions both came in German Cup matches.
Moving him back means he’s taking a lot fewer shots and his xG has fallen off a cliff, which is probably to be expected as he’s been transitioned from a goal scorer to a goal creator. His xGChain90 and xGBuildup90 numbers aren’t much better than average, either, meaning he’s not as incisive with the ball. Compare those to, for example, Amadou Diawara who is leading Italy in xGBuildup90 this season (and who we talked about yesterday) for context, although Diawara admittedly has a much smaller sample size.
Despite being somewhat cromulent as a central midfielder, I find myself a little underwhelmed by the idea of signing Meyer as a potential pivot player. Schalke plays a much more conservative midfield game compared to Spurs and I’m not sure how Meyer’s skills in the pivot (assuming Pochettino would play him there and not as an AM) would translate to Pochettino’s style.
So we have a small but young attacking midfielder who is playing pretty well in a new position but at a club who doesn’t play in the same style as Spurs and who probably won’t be as good there as the guy he’s ostensibly replacing or others that are potentially available.
Counterpoint: he’s a free transfer, is young enough to improve, and could also be a utility guy that can play in multiple positions as needed.
I don’t know. If Max Meyer is the only major midfield signing Tottenham makes in the summer transfer window I don’t think I’d be too excited. On the other hand, at a grand total cost of zero plus wages, I wouldn’t be upset if Spurs were to take a flyer on him.