Leon Goretzka began his football career at Werner SV 06 Bochum in 1999 before he moved to VfL Bochum two years’ later. He spent 11 years with the youth sides of Bochum before being promoted to the first team for the 2012/13 in the 2.Bundesliga during which the midfielder played 32 league games and netted four times.
His solitary season for the Bochum first team was enough for Schalke to take him away for a reported sum of €3 million. He has been one of the hottest prospects during the course of his time in Gelsenkirchen and has gone on to make his debut for the Germany national team.
Goretzka plays as a defensive midfielder, with his primary task being a shield for the backline. However, there is much more to his game than just being a destroyer. The youngster has great spatial awareness – an essential quality for a defensive midfielder – and is capable of playing a creative pass in space instead of resorting to hoofing the ball up the pitch.
For a man of his height – 1.89 m (6 ft 2 1⁄2 in) – Goretzka is capable of dribbling the ball under pressure and shields the ball extremely well from challenges. His ability to move up the pitch to help out in attack – a quality that often sees him scoring goals – makes him a complete package and a valuable addition to any team.
Future at Schalke
The German outfit has a great track record of developing youngsters, with some fantastic players graduating from their academy in the recent past. Julian Draxler, who was heavily linked with a move to Juventus in the summer of 2015 before signing for Wolfsburg, and Leroy Sane, who made a big money move to Manchester City last summer, have both been developed at the Gelsenkirchen club.
Under Markus Weinzierl in the ongoing campaign, Goretzka has been deployed as a deepest member of a five-man midfield tasked with the job of dropping down in support of the three-man defence when Schalke are without the ball. Still only 21, he has become a regular fixture in the Royal Blues line-up.
He has been sniffed around for quite some time by the big fish of European football and it is likely that he will sign for a club in the big league soon.
Prospects with the national team
The 21-year-old played for the Germany Under-16 side in 2010 and gradually progressed to the upper age groups before making his senior national team debut in 2014.
He was in the 30-man provisional squad for the 2014 World Cup but had to give it a miss due to an injury. However, it is just a matter of time before he becomes a regular fixture in the German set up.
Achievements so far
Goretzka captained the Germany Under-17 national team to the final of the 2012 UEFA U-17 Football Championship in Slovenia but his team lost to the Netherlands after a penalty shootout in the decider.
He also captained the Germany team in their 2016 Rio Olympic opener against Mexico; however, he had to withdraw from the eventual silver-winning side after sustaining an injury early in the campaign.