Cologne - After missing out on a place in the UEFA Champions League at the end of 2014/15, operation remould is in full swing at FC Schalke 04.
In Andre Breitenreiter, die Knappen have acquired an ambitious young coach determined to “bring success back to the club”, but it’s the signing of Germany U-21 international midfielder Johannes Geis from 1. FSV Mainz 05 that has really piqued interest in the royal-blue half of the Ruhr district.
From Mainz heartbeat...
Born in Schweinfurt, Bavaria, Geis got his big break under Thomas Tuchel at Mainz in summer 2013. Despite being relegated just months earlier with SpVgg Greuther Fürth, the no-nonsense holding player, who has represented Germany at every level outside of the senior ranks, swiftly became a mainstay at the Coface Arena, underpinning the club’s surprise seventh-placed finish in 2013/14.
Tuchel stepped down at the end of that self-same season, but Geis stuck around, underlining his credentials as one of the country’s most talented midfielders - even though the 05ers ended last term in mid-table.
Geis scored four and chipped in with just as many Bundesliga assists in 2014/15, whilst creating an average number of 2.24 chances per game for his team-mates. As a reference point, Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gündogan mustered 1.32 and Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s Christoph Kramer, on loan at Borussia Mönchengladbach at the time, managed just 0.90.
... to Schalke bedrock?
Geis’s qualities in the transition are undeniable, but there is clear room for improvement in other areas of his blossoming game. Schalke midfielder Roman Neustädter, for example, completed 83.9 per cent of his passes compared to Geis’ 73.3 per cent over the course of 2014/15, while Kramer, Leverkusen’s Lars Bender and FC Bayern München’s Bastian Schweinsteiger all enjoyed greater success in the tackle.
That said, at 21, Geis has time on his side and has already showcased his penchant for accelerated development since moving to Fürth aged just 15 in 2008.
If Breitenreiter is to return Champions League football to the Veltins Arena, building his team around a player many believe to be Schweinsteiger's heir apparent for die Mannschaft would hardly be a bad place to start.