Schalke's signing of Johannes Geis surprised many, and although any elation surrounding the Bundesliga club should be approached with caution, Ross Dunbar believes it's hard not to get excited at the current crop.
When it comes to Schalke, you can never get ahead of yourself. This is Germany's proverbial car-crash club, and they are once again emerging from the scene of another wreckage.
Last season came to a dismal climax for the Royal Blues who surrendered a Champions League position, finishing in a lowly sixth. It was predictable, and largely foreseeable, under the stewardship of Roberto Di Matteo where there were more than enough warning signs.
After the permanent signing of Matija Nastasic, who was on loan last term, the signing of Johannes Geis is the first serious deal of the summer. The reported fee - 11 million euros - is a sizeable outlay, but Geis' arrival reminds us Schalke remains a major player in the German market despite its underwhelming performances.
Lazio, Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund were reportedly strongest contenders to sign Geis, but immense credit must go to Horst Hedlt, the sporting director, for alleiving some of the pressure on him ahead of the members meeting on Sunday. Heldt also managed to recruit former Paderborn head coach Andre Breitenreiter as the new man in charge. The 41-year-old is bright, enthusiastic and trained to the meticulous standards of the German Football Federation (DFB). In short, so far, so good from Heldt.
Geis heads up young talent
On the park, this season heralds, perhaps, the beginning of a special generation in Gelsenkirchen, and Geis' arrival just adds to that. The 21-year-old joins a pool of players that includes Julian Draxler, also 21, Max Meyer (19), Leon Goretzka (20) and Leroy Sane (19). Some of the club's U19 title-winning squad could maybe join them soon, as well.
What Geis brings to the table, however, is more than just raw talent. If anything, his Bundesliga experience and no-nonsense approach offers the perfect balance to a squad with so many unproven players. Aside from Draxler, he is the most capped young midfielder at the club - Geis has managed to feature in 67 of 68 Bundesliga games in the last two seasons. A fine passer of the ball, experienced in-game vision and a heart-on-sleeve approach to the game have him, as Heldt stated, as one of the leading holding midfielders in the league. What makes him extra special is the set-piece threat he is capable of delivering.
The hope is that the 21-year-old might stick around for his best years at Schalke. Stability is the cornerstone of success, and being able to rely on a steady figure like Geis could become valuable in years to come. He already has vast experience and was a vital reason behind Mainz retaining their Bundesliga status.
Despite all this excitement, a new coaching setup means what Schalke really can do next season is unclear. What you can say, at the moment, is that the summer has been essentially perfect considering the calamitous end to last season. It's always dangerous to get ahead of yourself, particularly when it comes to Schalke as I mentioned, but it's hard not to feel optimistic for the Royal Blues with such a promising group at the club.