The 25-year-old has been voted by readers of bundesliga.com to be the top-scoring newly-signed striker in the 2013/14 Bundesliga season, a fine endorsement indeed considering he could be competing with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for a place in the Royal Blues’ starting XI.
With 27 per cent of the vote, Szalai emerged as the winner by the slimmest of margins ahead of Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Max Kruse (26 per cent) and Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s Heung Min Son (25 per cent). The Hungarian international scored 13 times for previous club 1. FSV Mainz 05 last term, his best ever single-season tally and a higher number than both Son and Kruse. Huntelaar may remain Schalke's recognised senior striker, but having netted just ten goals, Szalai outscored even him in 2012/13.
Kruse arrives with high expectations after starring for SC Freiburg last season, notching eleven times, while Son is also a player tipped to step up a gear. The 21-year-old, who was presented to the media at the BayArena on Wednesday, has been signed to lighten the goalscoring burden on last season’s top marksman Stefan Kießling, but he will also hope to better his record of 12 from the last campaign.
Werder Bremen’s Nils Petersen came fourth with ten per cent of the vote. The 23-year-old spent last season, in which he scored eight goals, on loan at the Weserstadion from FC Bayern Munich, but having joined the club permanently, will be looking to cement his reputation as one of Germany’s most promising forwards.
Mohammed Abdellaoue, a recent new arrival at VfB Stuttgart, claimed eight per cent of the vote to take fifth spot, while Hamburger SV’s Jacques Zoua, signed from Swiss side FC Basel 1893 came in last with four per cent.