Schalke have signed another teenage American star to their ranks in 16-year-old Evan Rotundo, looking to replicate the outstanding development made by the likes of Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic in moving to the Bundesliga at an early age.
bundesliga.com has the scoop on who exactly Rotundo is…
Position: Attacking midfielder
Country: USA/France (12 USA youth caps, three goals)
Born and raised in San Diego, California, Rotundo possesses citizenship for both the country of his birth and that of his mother, France. While football is still building its reputation across the States against sports such as American football, baseball and basketball, the influence of Rotundo's parents helped him to begin playing soccer at the age of just three.
As well as growing up playing futsal and street football, Rotundo has been in organised football since he joined San Diego's Albion club aged at U8 level. There, Rotundo played through until reaching the U13s – winning the U12 National Championship along the way – before signing for San Diego Surf SC.
From there, Rotundo has built on his reputation as one of the brightest talents across America at his age level and gone on to represent his country at U15 and U17 level. Having spent time training with the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Caen in his mother’s native France, Rotundo signed his first professional contract on 9 July, his 16th birthday, with Schalke to make a permanent move to Europe.
A bit like former Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg attacking midfielder Kevin de Bruyne already did in the Bundesliga before his return to England, Rotundo looks the full package. No doubt influenced by playing futsal and games on reduced pitches, the Schalke talent has near-perfect close control, awareness, and the ability to plan his next move before anyone else sees it.
Rotundo prefers to play in a No.10 role but is happy to drift wide or deeper into midfield if it means he gets on the ball. The 16-year-old is just as able to thread a perfect through ball for an on-running striker as he is taking aim at goal from range himself.
The diminutive California-native will be hoping to enjoy a growth spurt while at the Veltins-Arena, but Rotundo does not let his lack of height stop him exploiting his talents. Using all his knowledge to be one step ahead of his opponents, Rotundo doesn't need physical strength to weave his way through defences, and being genuinely two-footed certainly helps.
Did you know?
Rotundo has already begun to live one of his dreams by signing a professional contract with Schalke, but his big goals certainly don’t stop there.
In an interview with Soccer Nation earlier this year, Rotundo said, "My ultimate goal is to be the best American player of all-time. Big words I know, but you sometimes have to set big goals if you want to push the boundaries of what you are capable of achieving."
Watch: Top 10 U.S. goals of the last decade!
What they’re saying
"Evan has always been a self-motivated player constantly working on his game. Surf provided Evan with a consistent training environment, practicing with other like-minded soccer players. The combination of Evan’s work ethic, natural talent, commitment, and development at Surf have earned him this historic contract." - Senior Director of Coaching at San Diego Surf, Josh Henderson.
"Since I was a kid, I had this dream to play professionally and everyone that knows me will understand what this day means to me." - Rotundo himself.
"My Dad has been by far my greatest influence, and my Mum has also played a huge role in creating a good mindset. They've worked to train my brain to be able to adapt to different situations as well as work through possible injuries. If you really know me, you know I'm not a pushover. If you say something wrong to me, I will say something back, that’s just the way I am." - Rotundo himself.