In January 2017, FC Schalke 04 purchased Daniel Caligiuri from VfL Wolfsburg for 2.5 million euros, signing him to a three-and-a-half-year contract. It couldn’t have worked out any better.
As FC Schalke 04 mull over their future and make decisions on upcoming free agents Benjamin Stambouli and Daniel Caligiuri, it’s worth reminiscing on what they have given the club since signing. Both men have become important players for the Royal Blues.
Caligiuri joined Die Knappen in the winter transfer window of 2017. Initially, the Royal Blues had planned to sign him in the summer of 2017, but an injury to fullback Baba Rahman meant that they needed to make a deal.
At 2.5 million euros, Caligiuri was still a bargain, and now that his three-and-a-half-year contract is coming to a close, it’s clear that his legacy with Schalke is sealed as an important player.
In his first full season with the team in 2017-2018, Caligiuri picked up where he left off from a solid 2016-2017 Bundesliga campaign in which he scored four goals with four assists between VfL Wolfsburg and Schalke.
Caligiuri had easily the best season of his career in 2017-2018, becoming a fan favorite and playing a key role in Schalke’s dream season, as they finished second in the league. The technically prolific and tenacious right wing back scored six goals with a whopping 10 assists, establishing himself as one of the best players in the league and a crucial player for Die Knappen.
In addition to the goals, assists, and offensive output including 1.5 key passes per game and over 1.5 dribbles per game, Caligiuri was a menace defensively. Per WhoScored.com, he averaged an astounding three tackles per game and two interceptions per game to emphasize his status as one of the Bundesliga’s top players.
The next season in 2018-2019, Schalke were a disaster. But Caligiuri carried the day as one of the few bright spots. Without him, the Royal Blues could have been a relegation side. He was still their best player in terms of consistency and all-around impact, fulfilling all of his duties as one of Europe’s top wing backs.
Caligiuri wasn’t quite as dominant as in 2017-2018, but he was still wildly effective with seven goals and three assists. For a guy who was averaging three tackles per game and 1.6 interceptions per game in the Bundesliga – with even better defensive numbers in the Champions League due to his increased defensive responsibilities against the step-up in competition – those are outstanding offensive numbers.
Of course, Caligiuri’s best moment came in the second Revierderby, when he crushed Borussia Dortmund’s hearts and title hopes with one of the best free kicks you’ll see.
Caligiuri’s world-class set pieces, leadership, defensive work, versatility, and consistency have made him a beloved player in Gelsenkirchen. In three-and-a-half-years at Schalke, Caligiuri has set a high standard of play, and, hopefully, he’ll be back in 2020-2021 with a vengeance.