Schalke: Rabbi Matondo must create before the hype train begins

Rabbi Matondo of FC Schalke 04 (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Rabbi Matondo of FC Schalke 04 (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /

FC Schalke 04 have some of the most talented young players in all of European football, and Rabbi Matondo is certainly included among them.

Among Amine Harit, Ozan Kabak, and Suat Serdar, FC Schalke 04 had three of the biggest breakout stars in the Bundesliga last season. All three of those men showed they have what it takes to lead the Royal Blues to title contention in the future and are already among the best players at their respective positions.

Die Knappen have more young players who are waiting in the wings and ready to establish themselves as true Bundesliga stars. One of those players is Wales international Rabbi Matondo, who was signed by Schalke in the summer of 2019 from Manchester City.

The 2019-2020 campaign was, therefore, Matondo’s first full season with the club. He scored his first career goal as a first-team player in September against RB Leipzig, just weeks after a strong performance in a 0-0 draw to rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Matondo finished the season with only 609 minutes across 12 appearances, but the 19-year-old flashed serious potential. He is one of the most highly-regarded attacking prospects in the league and would often make dangerous runs of the ball, looking particularly lively against Dortmund.

But before Matondo can truly receive hype as a future star – or even regular starter – for the Royal Blues, he needs to improve as a creator.

Schalke mostly deployed Matondo as a striker, but as the season wore on, he was used on the left and right side of the formation. The speedy Benito Raman and traditional target man Guido Burgstaller proved to be more optimal strikers for David Wagner.

So Matondo will need to show more well-rounded elements to his game. Last season, per, Matondo was outside the top five players on the team in successful dribbles per 90 minutes. Even Alessandro Schöpf and Daniel Caligiuri bested him in this statistic. And Matondo’s main source of competition if only one young forward can start, Ahmed Kutucu, led the team by a significant margin with 3.4 per game.

Matondo, though, did average one full key pass per 90 minutes to best Kutucu in this category. THe was still outside the top five in this category in Bundesliga action, but he bested Raman, Burgstaller, and Kutucu. Since Michael Gregoritsch has no future at the club, Matondo was the most likely to record a key pass among the forwards when adjusting to “per 90” stats.

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That’s encouraging for Matondo, who didn’t have an assist in 2019-2020. The end product wasn’t there for Matondo, but the hard work and traits are there. If Matondo can gain more confidence on the ball and keep finding teammates in dangerous positions, he could work his way into a key position in the squad as a breakout candidate for 2020-2021.