Schalke 04: Omar Mascarell breaking the curse of the defensive midfielder

Schalke 04, Omar Mascarell (Photo by Ralf Treese/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Schalke 04, Omar Mascarell (Photo by Ralf Treese/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

Schalke 04 has an unflattering history of wasting money on defensive midfielders, but Omar Mascarell is breaking this long-time curse.

Ever since Christian Poulsen left Schalke 04, they have had a significant amount of trouble repairing the defensive midfield situation or, at the very least, staffing it with competent footsoldiers capable doing the job.

They’ve spent a lot of money trying to fix it too. It’s not like they haven’t tried. But, unfortunately, as is often the case with Schalke, the money invested rarely pays dividends. Most of the solutions have to come from Knappenschmiede.

If you look at some of the most expensive signings in club history, you will see plenty of attempts to reinvest in the midfield and find solutions. Such names like Johannes Geis and Sebastian Rudy account for nearly $30 million in investments and it’s safe to say that neither of them repaid the investment in any way.

Omar Mascarell the midfield Schalke has been looking for

But there, further down the list, is Omar Mascarell, another guy that Schalke invested a decent chunk in, but the difference is that Mascarell has vindicated $11.55m in just one year.

Granted, he was purchased before last season, in the summer of 2018, and if you’d evaluated this list after his first year, you’d have thought that he was going the exact same route as the likes of Rudy and Geis, but that’s where you’d have been wrong.

Mascarell has emerged this year as one of the best defensive midfielders in Germany. Truly, Real Madrid doesn’t invest in youth idly, and they saw the same potential in Mascarell that Die Knappen saw when they purchased him.

What makes him truly special is his defense-first mentality. Weston McKennie could be considered a defensive midfielder too, but he doesn’t always think defense first. He thinks wrecking the opponent first, or getting the ball, and that’s good but as I always say, the best defender isn’t the guy who tackles the best, it’s the guy who understands how to not need the tackle in the first place.

That’s Mascarell. He has such a fantastic intelligence when it comes to positioning and reading play that, while he isn’t afraid to make the tackle and he’s damn good at it, he doesn’t always need to sacrifice everything to win the ball back because he intervenes in other ways.

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Maybe it wasn’t a big enough sample size to call the defensive midfield situation a full-on “curse,” but the Royal Blues were failing left and right at sorting out the post-Poulsen situation. Omar Mascarell has finally helped them succeed. Now they can go worry about something else.