Schalke and Amine Harit need to find a happy middle ground, and they can both learn from a very specific and very similar example elsewhere.
Early on in the season, the problem that most plagued Schalke was a familiar one—they relied too much on Amine Harit. Harit just isn’t the kind of guy you can openly rely on, for a couple of reasons. First of all, he’s not a spotlight kind of guy. Second of all, he’s a very specific player. Third of all, he’s wobbly. More on that later.
Harit isn’t the kind of guy that takes center stage, and it’s because of this reason that he has to draw comparisons to a very specific someone—Mesut Ozil.
The prolific German is one of the best creators the world has ever seen, but when he moved to Arsenal, aside from about a six-month period of glory, there was one big issue—they relied on him too much and, turns out, he’s a player that does not need to be the center of attention. Stick a workhorse defensive midfielder on him and you negate anything he hopes to accomplish.
Amine Harit is the same, without the history of world-class creation. The problem with that is that many now believe that the No. 10 position is going obsolete. A position that Harit is best suited for.
Harit has been used in other capacities at Schalke, but like Ozil, he doesn’t work as well on the wings, and he can’t be called upon in a deeper capacity because he just doesn’t defend. He’s a creator through and through and that lands him as a luxury player. The kind of guy that you need to build around, not build on top of.
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Harit’s reliance was either feast or famine because if he didn’t produce, Schalke didn’t either. When he did, it was glorious. But in order to alleviate that pressure, Die Knappen can also learn from Arsenal by taking one of two approaches (neither of which has been perfected).
- You can try to grow Harit into more than he already is.
- You can pad the positions around him with dominant talent that can and will take the spotlight.
Arsenal tried both. Unai Emery tried changing Ozil. That didn’t work. Now Arteta has allowed other superstars to take over while letting Ozil operate from the background. That’s been a bit more successful, but the results are still inconclusive.
For Harit and David Wagner, maybe it’s a completely different approach. Maybe we go with two creative midfielders, maybe we load up on striker talent and let Harit sit behind a truly dynamic duo.
It’s hard to say what the solution is because No. 10’s haven’t always been such a liability. But in order to retain the highest level of production from Amine Harit, we have to alleviate the stress he’s under to do everything.