FC Schalke 04 center back Benjamin Stambouli has missed the last several months with a broken bone in his foot, and while there are signs he should be back in March, there’s now reason to question his future with the club.
When the 2019-2020 Bundesliga season started, Salif Sane and Benjamin Stambouli formed one of the most sure-fire center back pairings in the league. FC Schalke 04’s defense was impeccable with those two at the heart of a back four featuring Bastian Oczipka and Jonjoe Kenny putting in hard work on the wing.
However, both Sane and Stambouli suffered serious injuries in the Fall and have been out since. For most teams, losing both starting center backs, especially quality players and leaders like them, would be a death sentence.
Schalke have somehow been even better, thanks to the emergence of Ozan Kabak as a superstar player despite only being 19 years old. Meanwhile, Matija Nastasic has been solid when healthy, and the Royal Blues acquired another excellent young center back in Jean-Clair Todibo on loan from FC Barcelona. Todibo has already paid dividends, especially in light of Kabak’s recent injury.
When Sane and Stambouli return from injuries, presumably in March or April, the center back room will be crowded in Gelsenkirchen. And that’s a great “problem” to have.
That said, juggling the futures of these talented players will be an actual problem for Schalke’s decision-makers. Buying Todibo permanently from Barcelona, if possible, would be a great idea. Kabak’s place in the team is set as a superstar of the future, at least until his release clause kicks in. Nastasic is nice to have around. Sane has been linked to teams in the Premier League, but he’s a legitimate star on the level of Kabak.
Despite being a starter when the season opened and putting in quality performances, Stambouli would be the odd man out, especially if Todibo is pried from Barca.
According to a recent report from BILD, via BuLiNews.com, Stambouli recently suffered a setback while recovering from his severe injury and could miss the rest of the season. But worse than that, the 29-year-old’s salary of four million euros is seen as onerous. As with Daniel Caligiuri, the latest rumor is that Schalke want Stambouli to take a paycut.
Stambouli can still play at a high level, so it’s unlikely he’d be willing to take a paycut. Before the injury, he was playing the best football of his career, and while a serious foot injury puts doubts on his future, he should still feel he has a lot to give.
But Schalke have young stars ready to take his place, which makes it even less likely they’d be willing to pay his wages. While four million euros isn’t much, it is pricy for a 29-year-old backup center back at a club that will likely be without Champions League revenue for two straight seasons.
This situation is one to monitor closely, because as good as Stambouli is and as much as the fans should love him for what he’s brought to the club, this could be an unfortunate end to his time wearing Royal Blue.