Did Schalke make a mistake by selling Nabil Bentaleb?

Schalke 04, Nabil Bentaleb (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Schalke 04, Nabil Bentaleb (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /

Schalke clearly weren’t getting the most out of Nabil Bentaleb‘s talent, but was it a mistake for the Bundesliga club to cut ties with him in January?

Trading a talented midfielder in the prime of his playing career is never an easy choice for a club. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what Schalke chose to do with Nabil Bentaleb. The right question to ask now is whether or not shipping him to Newcastle will prove to be a mistake for the Bundesliga club.

In the short-term, the answer is almost certainly no. The 25-year-old hadn’t made a single appearance for Schalke this season before his return to England. Questions about his attitude have also followed Bentaleb doggedly during his playing career. His inability to get along well with his coaches and teammates at Tottenham derailed his first tour of duty in the Premier League.

In other words, Schalke haven’t lost anything on the pitch or in the locker room by selling Bentaleb. That would appear to make it an easy call in the club’s favour. However, there are serious risks associated with selling the Algerian international.

That’s because talent tends to rule all around modern football. At his best, Bentaleb is a complete midfielder who can help his club on both ends of the pitch. Left-footed players with those qualities are always in high demand. That’s why Newcastle were willing to overlook the players warts before bringing him back to England.

It was still a risk worth taking by Schalke officials. Even if Bentaleb does find a good run of form for Newcastle, it’s very unlikely the same phenomenon would have occurred for him in Germany. His relationship with everyone at Schalke had clearly soured beyond the point of repair. To put it simply, the club had to get rid of him.

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That’s why Schalke can be applauded for making the right choice. Anything Bentaleb does from this point forward is largely irrelevant to the evaluation of the club’s decision. He was never going to provide anything meaningful to Schalke. Offloading him for a credible transfer fee was a solid piece of business all around.