‘Patrik has always been our obsession’ grinned Monchi at the unveiling of Patrik Schick on Tuesday, but it could have been oh so different.
The Czech striker was at the heart of one of the oddest twists in this incredibly bizarre transfer window, which is definitely saying something. Juventus had activated his €25m buyout clause, they even of his medical whilst they ‘waited’ for the deal to be completed. Twenty-six days after those pictures had been posted, Juventus announced they had failed to finalise the deal with Sampdoria. W-what?
Even a month and a half later, we still don’t know what happened, nor will Schick or any Juventus official come clean and say what happened. What we do now know is that he’s is a Roma player.
The transfer fee is…complicated to say the least, €5m for the loan, obligatory €9m to make the transfer permanent (provided certain sporting objectives are met), bonuses worth up to €8m and €20m in February 2020, should be sold prior to that date, Sampdoria are owed 50% of the fee.
All it took was one season for Schick to get his move. The former Samp man scored 11 goals in just over 1500 league minutes last season, whilst chipping in with three assists. He became the ‘in’ guy, all the big clubs in Italy started circling in, with some from around Europe too, but in the end the Giaollorossi got him.
So, just how good is Schick?
The eye test
I absolutely love it when small Serie A teams get these fantastic prospects. Palermo with Edinson Cavani and Paolo Dybala, Udinese with Alexis Sanchez and Sampdoria with Patrik Schick. There’s no big club pressure, they form a special bond with fans in a short space of time, and it’s like watching a diamond be unearthed in front of your very eyes. However, these stints are often short lived, but perhaps that’s what makes them special, you appreciate it.
When watching him, it’s hard not to get excited. He really looks the total package, he combines excellent technical ability, with both link up play and scoring technique with physical attributes. At almost 6’2, it’s becoming rare to have such tall strikers that don’t sacrifice their technical ability.
It all seems a bit too natural, his movement, his poise, it’s so unlike a 21 year old. Goals against away at Juventus and Inter combined with goals against both Rome clubs go a long way in showing off his cojones.
There’s a clip that sums up Schick perfectly, his goal against Chievo. He receives the ball just inside the penalty area, marked by two Chievo defenders, he controls a pretty hefty through ball, turns and curls past Sorrentino. Such poise and coolness is rarely seen from a 21 year old.
How does he fit in at Roma?
In his first press conference, Schick joked that ‘yes, I can play on the right’, obviously referring to di Francesco’s insistence on 4-3-3 and Dzeko occupying the sole striking position.
It’s not really a laughing matter, though. Dzeko is one of the best strikers in Italy, but shoving Schick out wide for him would be an irresponsible thing to do. Therefore I can envision di Francesco just slightly varying his 4-3-3 to a 4-3-2-1, with Defrel and Schick operating as attacking midfielders behind Dzeko.
This way Schick isn’t isolated out wide and can still get into the scoring positions he deserves to get into.
The underlying numbers
Predictive Patrik Schick radar – with expected goals and assists.
Expected goals measures not how many goals a team has scored, but how many goals an average team would have scored with the amount and quality of shots created.
The first worry is the difference between actual goals scored and expected goals scored. It is not abnormal to exceed expected goals, especially when you’re reaching 20 goals and beyond, but to over perform by almost double your expected goals tally per 90 is pretty big.
Imagine if he had scored 6 league goals and 3 assists, as the underlying numbers suggest. Is that worth a potential deal of €42m? Most definitely not.
Still, the total league minutes played is quite small, just under half the season. It was his first season in Serie A and he still managed 0.50 xGA per 90 minutes. That’s pretty great. His normal numbers suggest he’s going to be superb, so the underlying numbers still suggesting he’s going to be great is a good sign for Roma.
I think the race for Patrik Schick became a bit of a ghost race. Who was going to sign Serie A’s hottest prospect? Juventus, Inter, Roma, Milan? In the end it only ever seemed that Roma held any power in this transfer after Juventus pulled out. Inter don’t seem to have the money, Milan never seemed to flirt with him too much, and Roma got the deal done due to Monchi’s insistence.
The transfer fee seems a bit steep for someone who didn’t even play half a season minutes wise. However, I’ll give credit that it’s structured fantastically, it’s FFP friendly and gives Roma a lot of breathing room for future windows. I imagine Roma will not be able to pull out of the obligation next summer, unless the sporting objectives are absurdly high, if they can, then this is a pretty safe transfer.
I am fairly confident Patrik Schick is a good player already and can turn into a great player. He passes the eye test with flying colours, the numbers also back him up in per 90s, play him for a full season and you will get a great return. In this transfer market, you have to get to players the season before the elite clubs do, that means you still do have to pay big prices, but this one will work out.