Schalke: Matija Nastasic the ideal middle man for this defense

Schalke 04, Matija Nastasic (Photo by Max Maiwald/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Schalke 04, Matija Nastasic (Photo by Max Maiwald/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

Schalke’s defense leads to so many unique talking points, but somehow Matija Nastisic often gets excluded. What better middle man could there be?

Here at Release the Knappen, and just about any other Schalke content, for that matter, this centerback situation is always featured. It’s been a remarkable year. Essentially, you have the centerbacks cut into two groups—the veterans, Salif Sane and Benjamin Stambouli; and the youngsters, Ozan Kabak and Jean-Clair Todibo.

The youngsters filled in for the veterans when they suffered season-ending injuries and have blossomed into certifiable stars since then. But in all of these conversations, the man who most often gets neglected is Matija Nastasic.

You’ve got your senior centerbacks, you’ve got your young, exciting centerbacks, and then you’ve got Matija Nastasic, who is the perfect blend of both. He’s just the right balance of potential and experience. Just the right balance of starter and rotational.

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Every defense needs a Nastasic, and Schalke is blessed to have the original. He’s in his prime years, so you can’t call him a prospect, but he’s got enough years that he still has room to grow. Which puts him as a happy middle man between must-start and reliable reserve.

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However, in typical Schalke fashion, Nastasic is too good to be your standard reserve defender. When Stambouli and Sane went down for the year, it wasn’t just Ozan Kabak that filled in and made this defense a brick wall.

Matija Nastasic was right there next to him. Though he was a much more known commodity, so all the hype piled on Kabak.

You can’t create that kind of defense with one man alone. Kabak needed Nastasic, and vice versa. And in the process, we saw that, same as with Kabak, if Die Knappen needed Nastasic to start regularly, he would do the job just as well as his predecessors.

Just more testament to that defensive depth.

Nastasic only has two years left on his contract come this summer, and that’s when things start to get murky. He’s not a big-time moneymaker, whether we’re talking wages or a potential sale, and his value to the club goes well beyond what we could expect to get in return.

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Given the role that Nastasic plays, it’s doubtful we can do better. That’s more praise to Nastasic than anything else. He’s ideal at what he’s asked to do. It’s never too early to think ahead.