After struggling to break into the Bayern Munich first team, German international Sebastian Rudy has chosen Schalke over RB Leipzig. DW's Matt Ford explains why it's a good move for all parties.
Schalke received deserved plaudits following last season's second-place finish. After the departures of Leon Goretzka, Max Meyer and Thilo Kehrer however, the Royal Blues were threatening to take a step back rather than make the progress necessary for them to consolidate their position as a top-four Bundesliga side.
But with the signing of German international Sebastian Rudy, sporting director Christian Heidel has gone some way to plugging Schalke's talent drain.
DW explains why the €16m transfer is a good move for all concerned.
The opening 45 minutes against Wolfsburg on Saturday demonstrated just how lightweight Schalke are in the center of the pitch. In Weston McKennie, Armine Harit and Suat Serdar, coach Domenico Tedesco picked a midfield three who were all aged 21 or under – and the inexperience showed as the trio gave the ball away on multiple occasions.
Without the departed Max Meyer (who had started to impress in a deeper role for Schalke before joining Crystal Palace) and new signing Omar Mascarell (not match-fit after recovering from a muscle tear), the more experienced Joshua Guilavogui and Max Arnold were able to take control of the midfield for Wolfsburg.
Rudy doesn't just represent greater stability in front of the defense; the 28-year-old provides a more cultured launchpad for attacks too.
Against Wolfsburg, Schalke found it difficult to bring Mark Uth, Daniel Caligiuri and Guido Burgstaller into the game. Having played with Uth at Hoffenheim, Rudy will be expected to read his former teammate's runs and add a missing spark to Schalke's attacks.
The capture of Rudy for a mere €16m ($18.6m) represents yet another shrewd piece of business by Heidel.
The Schalke sporting director recouped €37m for defender Thilo Kehrer this summer (a sum offered by PSG that Heidel said Schalke simply couldn't refuse), enabling the Royal Blues to compete with RB Leipzig for Rudy's signature without having to sell anyone else.
Suggestions that the Rudy transfer depended on the departure of Nabil Bentaleb to Olympique Marseille proved to be wide of the mark, with this season's Champions League earnings more than covering the cost.
- Read more: Schalke: A band of 27 brothers and captains
A blow to direct rival
By snatching Rudy from the clutches of RB Leipzig, Schalke haven't just strengthened their own hand; they've dealt a blow to a direct rival too.
The departure of Naby Keita has left a considerable creative hole in the Red Bull side's midfield. Kevin Kampl's performance in the first half against Borussia Dortmund on Sunday suggested he could take over the role but Rudy would have been an ideal replacement.
Rudy doesn't fit the club's under-24 recruitment policy but, given his history of working alongside Ralf Rangnick at Hoffenheim, he is already well versed in RB's pressing and transitional game and the club would have made an exception.
Champions League football
"Schalke had a great season, coming second and qualifying for the Champions League," RB CEO Oliver Mintzlaff told Kicker magazine.
In Leipzig, Rudy would have been playing under a coach he trusts, in a system he knows and at a club where money is no object. But as Mintzlaff admitted, Schalke can currently offer a level of football which RB cannot – and Rudy can help them stay there too.