- Badstuber joins Schalke until end of season on loan from Bayern.
- Looking to get career back on track after injury problems.
- Centre-back raring to go and targets success in Europe.
Holger Badstuber has made no secret of his reasons for joining FC Schalke 04 on loan from FC Bayern München: the centre-back wants to play as much football as he possibly can.
A litany of injuries (from a ruptured knee ligament, to a torn thigh muscle, to a broken ankle) has prevented Badstuber's career from ever really getting going. Although now 27, it often feels that the defender is yet to even come close to realising the potential he showed as a 19-year-old when announcing himself on the Bundesliga and European stage in 2009/10.
Watch: get to know Badstuber's new home, the VELTINS Arena, with our exclusive video tour:
As a result, he has arrived in Gelsenkirchen with two aims: the first is to re-invent himself as a footballer; the second is to help Schalke succeed. If he manages to achieve the first aim, then his new club will be in a fine place to be successful.
"Looking back irritates me," said Badstuber, understandably, at his official unveiling as a Schalke player at the VELTINS Arena on Friday. "For me, the past doesn't really matter. I've changed as a person and changed mentally. I'm older and more mature, but my body also feels very, very good. I don't want to be the old Holger Badstuber any more. I'd like to be a new Holger Badstuber."
He might intend to be a new Badstuber, but he has turned to some old friends in Munich for advice about life in Gelsenkirchen: Manuel Neuer, and Bayern assistant coach Hermann Gerland, both of whom hail from the surrounding area.
"I spoke to Manuel," said Badstuber. "He knows the club inside out and can give me some tips. He told me that he'll always be ready to answer any questions. Hermann just told me that it's a great part of the world!"
As much as Badstuber intends to look to the future, it is almost impossible not to reflect on what could have been, or, as he would doubtless prefer to put it, what still might be.
If the Bavarian can show signs of the player who helped Bayern reach the UEFA Champions League final in 2010, then the Royal Blues will be well set for their own assault on Europe (Schalke face PAOK FC in the UEFA Europa League last 32) and the Bundesliga's European places.
Badstuber is determined to make that happen. "Europe is definitely going to play a role," he said, when discussing his new club's aims for the second half of the season. "Schalke have real ambition. With the quality – and the potential – here, then you have to have [high] expectations."
With lofty aims, there will be no bedding-in period for Badstuber, which, one suspects, is just how he likes it.
"I've been training fully for the last four months," he concluded. "I'm used to pressure, I grew up with it. This is definitely an important time for me. I'm coming from a club where the mentality is that winning is normal. I want to bring that mentality to Schalke. It's a hungry team with a lot of young players and a coach who I rate very highly. These are all things that make for a challenge, and I always like taking on challenges."