Gelsenkirchen - may have been the unsung hero of Borussia Mönchengladbach's fourth-place finish last season, yet his performances were nonetheless eye-catching enough to earn a move to FC Schalke 04 and prompt former coach Lucien Favre to liken him to UEFA Best Player in Europe award-winner Andres Iniesta.
Favre made the comparison to highlight the difficulty in replacing the midfielder, who followed fellow stars Marco Reus and Dante out of the club during the summer.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the 24-year-old spoke about scoring his first goal for Schalke, the upcoming Revierderby against regional rivals Borussia Dortmund and his friendship with colleague-turned-adversary .
bundesliga.com: Congratulations on your first Schalke goal. Should the fans now expect Neustädter the goalscorer?
Neustädter: I said before the season that I wanted to work on my goalscoring and I'm pleased that I've scored one goal more than last season. I hope a few more will come as well.
bundesliga.com: You moved to Schalke in the summer and soon claimed a regular starting berth, not missing a single minute so far. Did you expect to settle in so quickly?
Neustädter: We try to play in precisely the same way as Gladbach - keeping compact and trying to put pressure on our opponents. The lads have made it very easy for me. I knew a few of them from before and they've helped me settle in here. Therefore, I'm just pleased not to have missed a single minute yet and that I'm already well integrated in the team.
bundesliga.com: With Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Jefferson Farfan and Ibrahim Afellay, Schalke have big names in their attack. You recorded an impressive 3-0 victory over Wolfsburg - where is Schalke's season heading?
Neustädter: We've only played seven matches. We're heading in the right direction as a team and you can see from game to game that we're developing, that we're gaining more of an understanding and that there's more fluidity to our game. Now we have to carry on working hard as a team and then we'll see what comes out of it in the end.
bundesliga.com: After the break for internationals, you have the Revierderby against Borussia Dortmund, which will be a real test for you. How much can you sense the anticipation in the Ruhr district right now?
Neustädter: Straight after the Wolfsburg game, I bumped into some fans who spoke about the derby and said that we have to win it at all costs. You can already feel that this game has a certain edge about it and how important it is for the people here in the region.
bundesliga.com: What do you expect personally from the derby?
Neustädter: The atmosphere is going to be unique. There's a huge rivalry between the fans. I hope everything passes off peacefully and the fans support their team and nobody has any stupid thoughts. Our team is well prepared and we want to try to carry on where we left off against Wolfsburg.
bundesliga.com: You've spoken about the special edge this game has. You also played in a derby atmosphere in your games for Borussia Mönchengladbach against 1. FC Köln. How much can that experience help in view of the Revierderby?
Neustädter: I played in three derbies and it got more and more relaxed from derby to derby. Even for the fans, it was not as extreme as three or four years ago. Therefore, I hope this derby will be the same.
bundesliga.com: You're currently one place above Dortmund in the league table - does that make you favourites?
Neustädter: No, I don't think there are any favourites in this game - it's a derby! No matter who's on the field and how many points you have, all that matters is victory. We'll prepare for the game with the intention of winning it.
bundesliga.com: In Marco Reus you come up against a former team-mate from your Gladbach days. Have you had any contact with him ahead of the derby?
Neustädter: We're always in touch and write to each other every day. I told him he should concentrate on the national team now, but when he gets back, we'll wind each other up a little.
bundesliga.com: That means there will be a few jibes?
Neustädter: Of course!
Interview by Maximilian Lotz