“Christian, before we start, we need to determine whether we’re talking about the same player, then you can make me an offer,” began football agent Roger Wittman. “I’m talking about a world-class player, someone who would be a first-choice selection at any of Europe’s top clubs.”
Christian Heidel, Schalke’s sporting director, was taken aback. It wasn’t Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi’s agent on the other end of the line, but the agent of one of his own players. Max Meyer, fresh off the back of another season of solid development in royal blue, was nearing the end of his contract. Heidel had been keen to negotiate an extension with an exciting prospect.
“He’s a very good Bundesliga player,” Heidel responded. “One with great potential but one that can still improve.”
In Heidel’s opinion, a 22-year old with a lot still to learn wasn’t yet worthy of a contract worth in excess of €100,000 ($117,000) a week. Unfortunately for the player and his agent, it appears Europe’s top clubs agree with the Schalke boss. Three months after Heidel appeared on Sky Sports to reveal his side of the conversation with Wittmann, a deal is yet to materialize.
Marseille were reportedly interested in securing Meyer’s signature earlier this month, only to back out of a deal once his terms were revealed. Arsenal and Liverpool were also put off by his demands, according to British media outlets.
On paper, a young, technically gifted Germany international, capable of playing in a number of midfield positions, should walk into a top club – particularly on a Bosman. He’s got the stats to back up the talent, too: Of those who attempted more than 1,000 passes in the Bundesliga last season, only three midfield players were more accurate, and they all played for champions Bayern. He was second overall in possesion won in the final third last season; only Daniel Baier of Augsburg won the ball more than his 96 times. Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco’s decision to move him into a deep-lying midfield role proved a stroke of genius as he flourished as the Royal Blues finished runners-up to Bayern.