In signing exciting young winger Amine Harit from Nantes, Schalke have recruited a player with the talent to bring the Royal Blue faithful to their feet.

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We detail five things you should know about the latest addition to the Schalke family...

1) Football was not his only passion

Born in Pointoise, to the northwest of Paris, Harit was a talented swimmer as a child. His father’s influence gave him a love for the pool and until the age of 14, the budding footballer was also part of a swimming club.

Harit took part in competitions every weekend at home and abroad but football took over for good when he joined Nantes as a 15-year-old.

"It was good but there’s no comparison with football," the attacking midfielder told L’Equipe when discussing his aquatic past. "For me, there’s no better sport than football."

Harit was a star of the French Under-19 squad that won the 2016 European Champinship held in Germany.
Harit was a star of the French Under-19 squad that won the 2016 European Champinship held in Germany.

2) Familiar with Germany

According to one of his first coaches, Harit was already "super talented" at the age of six. A couple of years later he spent three months at PSG but long trips to and from the French capital proved too difficult at that age.

The silky dribbler had to be patient once he moved west from Paris club Red Star to Nantes, and before leaving for the UEFA European U-19 Championship 2016 in Germany, he had yet to make his senior debut.

Harit was a revelation at that competition though, providing quality service for Monaco star Kylian Mbappé and RB Leipzig newcomer Jean-Kevin Augustin as France stormed to the title

The Nantes attacker – who had only just scraped a place in the tournament squad – thrived in the limelight. He set up two goals in the final as France beat Italy 4-0 at Hoffenheim’s WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena and he was also named in the team of the tournament.

Harit scored once in 23 starts during his debut season at senior level.
Harit scored once in 23 starts during his debut season at senior level.

3) Rapid development

Harit’s performances in Germany helped his career take off. On the opening day of the 2016/2017 Ligue 1 season, his name was in the Nantes starting XI for their 1-0 win at Dijon.

The teenager never looked back after his debut at senior level and he scored his first goal in a victory over Angers in December 2016.

He was rewarded with a new long-term contract in January and ended up playing 30 league matches for the Canaries as they finished seventh in the table at the end of his first season.

"The way people looked at me had changed," Harit told L’Equipe when reflecting on how his efforts at international level had kick-started his career. "If I’m playing at the moment in Ligue 1, it’s 90 per cent down to the Euros [in Germany] and also thanks to the work I’ve done in order to convince the manager."

Harit will be working under Domenico Tedesco, who replaced Markus Weinzierl as Schalke manager in June.
Harit will be working under Domenico Tedesco, who replaced Markus Weinzierl as Schalke manager in June.

4) Flexibility is a plus                          

New Schalke boss Domenico Tedesco will be pleased to have such a versatile player on the club’s books. Despite being predominantly right footed, Harit was usually deployed on the left wing by Nantes. He has also thrived for France’s youth sides in a 4-3-3 formation and his quick feet and ability in one-on-one situations means he is comfortable in any attacking midfield role.

The forward-thinking player is also working hard on the defensive side of his game. "I learned to play with my head this season," Harit told Ouest France in May. "I developed tactically and defensively too. Losing the ball can cost you dearly in Ligue 1... I understood that football is not only about attacking. You also have to make an effort defensively."

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5) Calm head on young shoulders

Harit had been tracked by bigger clubs ever since his standout displays in Germany. But according to his agent, the 20-year-old was able to cope with persistent transfer rumours.

"From the first match of the Euros, my telephone started to go off and it continued like that until the end of the summer," Harit’s agent Florent Vagnetti told L’Equipe in February. "It was the same this winter but Amine is very 'zen'."

Harit has said he would consider playing for Morocco, the country of his parents, if he is overlooked by France and he has already bounced back from being dropped from the Nantes starting line-up for a time during the second half of last season.

His fondness for dribbling past players with unorthodox tricks will no doubt please his new fans in Gelsenkirchen but he said his style should not be mistaken for arrogance. "People could think that I’m arrogant but not at all," he told L’Equipe . "I’ve a bit of a provocative style of play... it’s thanks to that that I’ve got to here. Football is about taking and giving pleasure... but I know that I have to improve my statistics and play in a simpler manner."

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