FC Schalke will have to start playing Juan Miranda

Juan Miranda of FC Schalke 04 (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Juan Miranda of FC Schalke 04 (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /

FC Schalke 04 have one of Europe’s most promising fullback prospects on loan, but they’ve yet to use him.

Left back Juan Miranda recently rejoined FC Schalke 04 for training sessions after an absence due to injury, but even when he was healthy, he wasn’t exactly a part of David Wagner’s rotation.

Admittedly, Die Knappen have a talented starting back four, and it’s difficult for Miranda to receive playing time over Bastian Oczipka, who is one of the most reliable veteran fullbacks in the Bundesliga. As fans saw two weeks ago against Fortuna Dusseldorf, Oczipka’s deliveries from set pieces and crosses provide scoring opportunities.

But Miranda has more natural talent than Oczipka. He is a loanee from FC Barcelona who has a chance to become one of the better left backs in the world, so he can help contribute to Schalke this season and make Oczipka more rested – and thus more effective when he does play.

Miranda has received no game time this season, and while some of that has been due to injury, Schalke haven’t really made much of an attempt to use him. Basically, they acquired him on loan from Barca for nothing.

And this hasn’t exactly impressed Barcelona, with legendary forward Patrick Kluivert having some choice words as the La Liga powerhouse’s head of youth development. Kluivert reportedly said that he is “sorry” Miranda isn’t playing, noting that this isn’t ideal for La Blaugrana or the young fullback. He also added that the club needs to do a better job of identifying if a loaned out player will actually get sufficient playing time, otherwise they will think twice about making those loans.

Hopefully, Kluivert and Barcelona are taking some responsibility for this, since it isn’t up to Schalke to play a loanee. If Miranda is hurt or not establishing himself as the best option, then Wagner isn’t obligated to play Miranda and develop him for Barcelona’s sake. Oczipka has been solid again this season, so there’s no need for Miranda to start.

But at the same time, it’s not a good reflection on Schalke to top clubs if loanees aren’t getting playing time. It may make a club like Barcelona hesitant to loan a player to them in the future. And as Borussia Dortmund have shown with Paco Alcacer, Barcelona’s standout young players are ripe for permanent loan deals if they see a path to playing time and like their new club more than their parent club.

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That’s something for Wagner and other decision-makers at Schalke to keep in mind with Miranda. There should be room for him to play and give Oczipka some rest, or even for Schalke to experiment with different roles in the squad, as they have been willing to do with others like Daniel Caligiuri and Weston McKennie in midfield.

More than one possible solution exists, and, again, Schalke don’t owe Barcelona anything. But Miranda has quality and playing him could have benefits for building better relationships with other European clubs. Maybe Schalke will get their hands on an Alcacer-type talent of their own through these loan spells.