Football Features

Europe’s most active club this transfer window? Schalke join Borussia Dortmund in summer of splurging

By Ben Green

Published: 18:44, 12 July 2022

The Ruhr Valley has become a football transfer hotspot this summer with Revierderby rivals Schalke and Borussia Dortmund signing a combined 24 players, 13 of whom have relocated to Gelsenkirchen.

Borussia Dortmund are no doubt keen to consolidate their status as one of German football’s perennial powerhouses, with the hope of shattering the Bayern Munich hegemony next term. Meanwhile, Schalke will just be chuffed to be back in the big time.

A regular on the Bundesliga circuit, The Royal Blues infamously suffered relegation in 2021, but their existence in the second tier ultimately proved short-lived as they won the division last term, making their return to the top flight in title-winning style.

Frank Kramer has certainly not splashed the cash like BVB have, with their most expensive transfer costing just £1.7m, while Edin Terzic has sought to replace Erling Haaland with the £32.1m capture of Karim Adeyemi and the £30.8m signing of Sebastien Haller.

The pockets haven’t proven as deep at the Arena AufSchalke compared to the Westfalenstadion, but Schalke have not been sleepwalking this summer window by any stretch of the imagination. Below we look at the 13 signings they’ve already pulled off ahead of their Bundesliga return.

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Thomas Ouwejan

From: AZ Alkmaar

Fee: £1.7m

On loan at Schalke last term from AZ Alkmaar, the former Netherlands U21 international has made his temporary stint in Gelsenkirchen a permanent one. AZ may have been tempted to retain his services after the left-back who ousted Ouwejan at the AFAS Stadion, Owen Wijndal, recently completed a move to Ajax.

Rodrigo Zalazar

From: Eintracht Frankfurt

Fee: £1.3m

Son of former Uruguay international Jose Luis Zalazar, Rodrigo is another who has completed a permanent move to Schalke following a loan spell last term. The 22-year-old moved to Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt in 2019, but spent the last three seasons turning out temporarily for Korona Kielce, FC St. Pauli and Schalke. He’ll be hoping to find a stable home in Gelsenkirchen and potentially emulate his father in representing Uruguay one day.

Sebastian Polter

From: Bochum

Fee: £1.3m

Fans on these shores may remember Sebastian Polter, who turned out for Queens Park Rangers in the Championship between 2015 and 2017, but the 6ft4in former Germany U21 international never really took England’s second tier by storm. The 31-year-old ultimately upped sticks for Union Berlin in 2016, returning to his homeland and helping guide the capital club to promotion in 2019. Last term he represented Bochum and notched double digits in the Bundesliga, which is certainly no mean feat. Schalke boss Kramer will be hoping for a similar return in 2022/23.

Florent Mollet

From: Montpellier

Fee: £450k

“He has an above-average understanding of the game,” said Kramer upon Mollet’s arrival in Gelsenkirchen. I suppose you can’t expect peak Xavi when you’re spending less than half-a-million on a midfielder. The 30-year-old leaves France for the first time in his career, having hailed from Dijon, before representing Creteil, Metz and most recently Montpellier. He racked up just shy of 130 Ligue 1 appearances for the latter and so has bundles of top-flight experience, which is exactly what the newly-promoted club need as they look to find stability once again in the Bundesliga.

Cedric Brunner

From: Arminia Bielefeld

Fee: Free transfer

A consistent fixture for Arminia Bielefeld over the last two Bundesliga campaigns, the Swiss defender’s woes of relegation have been exceptionally short-lived as he links up with Schalke hoping for a less dramatic outcome next term. A progressive right-back, Brunner should bring plenty of forward-thinking pizzazz to Kramer’s defensive flanks.

Maya Yoshida

From: Sampdoria

Fee: Free transfer

The well-travelled Japanese centurion takes his hard-nosed defensive exploits to the Bundesliga fresh from three seasons in Italy, where he turned out for Sampdoria. The former Southampton centre-back is very much approaching the twilight years of his career as he turns 34 next month, but that experience should stand him in good stead in a division where age seems to be but a number — just ask perennial record-breaker Robert Lewandowski who celebrates his 34th birthday just three days before Yoshida’s.

Alexander Schwolow

From: Hertha Berlin

Fee: Free transfer

Despite starting between the sticks for Hertha last term, Alexander Schwolow was eventually displaced by Dortmund’s new signing Marcel Lotka. Although the latter completed a move to BVB, Schwolow has also relocated to North Rhine-Westphalia, where he will be hoping to cement the No. 1 berth at Schalke.

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Tom Krauss

From: RB Leipzig

Fee: Loan

The permutations of this deal are simple: avoid relegation, sign Tom Krauss. The promising 21-year-old Germany U21 international found a traffic jam of midfield talent standing in his way at RB Leipzig, so he has spent the previous two campaigns out on loan at Nurnberg in the second tier. He will now get a proper taste of top-flight football as he moves to Schalke on another season-long temporary transfer. If Kramer’s men avoid the drop, though, they can sign Krauss on a permanent.

Justin Heekeren

From: RW Oberhausen

Fee: Undisclosed fee

The second of Schalke’s two goalkeeping recruits this summer, Justin Heekeren moves from the semi-professional Regionalliga West after turning out 54 times for Rot-Weiss Oberhausen. It’s a big step up to the Bundesliga for the precocious goalkeeper.

Tobias Mohr

From: Heidenheim

Fee: Undisclosed fee

The 26-year-old was highly influential in the 2. Bundesliga for Heidenheim last season, scoring eight goals and providing seven assists as the club finished sixth in the second tier. One of those assists actually came in Heidenheim’s 1-0 win over Schalke as he set up teammate Oliver Husing. Kramer was obviously impressed by his delivery.

Marvin Pieringer

From: Freiburg

Fee: Undisclosed fee

The 22-year-old featured 26 times for Schalke last season on loan from Freiburg, and he becomes another who has made a permanent switch to Gelsenkirchen.

Ibrahima Cisse

From: Genk

Fee: Undisclosed fee

The 6ft5in defender has made the leap from Genk to Schalke hoping to follow in the footsteps of past Smurfen who made the jump to a top five European league from the Luminus Arena, not least Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Kalidou Koulibaly, Thibaut Courtois, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Wilfred Ndidi.

Leo Greiml

From: Rapid Vienna

Fee: Undisclosed fee

The Austria U21 international came through at Rapid Vienna and will now take his defensive exploits to the German top flight, signing a three-year deal on a free transfer. He has been out injured since October, so may take some time to get up to speed.