International major tournaments can be breakthrough events for players. One moment, and the whole world knows your name.
In Patrik Schick’s case, that moment was an absurdly stunning, first-time, 50-yard lob over Scotland’s David Marshall to make everyone watching sit up and say: “wow, who the f*** is that guy?”
And although that is the moment we’ll all remember from Schick’s summer, it wasn’t just the outrageously daring he did so well. The Czech was clinical, collective, and composed throughout his country’s run to the last eight of the European Championships as he impressed and surprised spectators – those who don’t follow the Bundesliga, anyway.
Schick has shown his qualities throughout his spell in Germany’s top flight, since moving to RB Leipzig two years ago, where he reignited his career under now-Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann. It was a move that signalled the end of a horror show at Roma, and the rebirth of what can be become a special career.
During the 2019/20 season, the striker notched ten goals and two assists in just 22 Bundesliga appearances, before netting nine times and assisting twice after switching to Bayer Leverkusen for the following campaign.
While his numbers are by no means blistering like living-legend Robert Lewandowski, Schick’s performances at Euro 2020 only confirmed the glimpses of sheer quality he’s shown over the past two seasons and proves one thing: he really could be Lewandowski’s heir at Bayern Munich.
Before you scoff, just hear me out.
The Pole is now 32 years of age and, while his physical strength is still that of a prime athlete, there have been questions over where he wants to end his career, let alone who will replace him in the long-term. While the Bayern Munich hierarchy will deny such rumours fervently, Lewandowski himself has admitted being ‘open-minded’ while Manchester City have shown continued interest.
So, the issue of Lewandowski’s successor at the Allianz Arena is one which needs addressing – now more than ever. And the solution may have been staring them in the face for the past two years. It may just be Schick.
Like Lewandowski, Schick can do it all, as he’s just shown us in a wonderful Euro 2020 display.
The Czech demonstrated an ability to drop deep and link play efficiently and progressively, simultaneously opening up space in behind for Tomas Holes and Tomas Soucek to surge forward into while driving his side upfield – a fluidity that we’ve endlessly seen among Bayern’s midfield and attack, causing utter destruction.
His ability to roam when his side needed that extra fluidity was noticeable too. Lewandowski, for all the goals he scores, is not just a striker. The Pole is brilliant when drifting out wide or off his marker to provide fresh impetus – just as Schick did for Czech Republic this summer with a surprising technical and tricky pair of feet for a 6ft 1in frontman.
He showed his worth with movement across defenders and in behind the back line, too. Sometimes unmarkable, Schick often found himself beating his man and drifting into threatening areas to receive the ball – notably grabbing a thumping header against Scotland and finishing clinically on the volley in his side’s 2-1 quarter-final loss to Denmark.
His strength and athleticism offers no doubts, either. The only proof needed of his desire and fitness is his goal to clinch the Czechs a shock 2-0 win over the Netherlands in the last 16. The striker’s lung-busting run to eventually calmly stroke Holes’ cut back past a helpless Maarten Stekelenburg was the epitome of a ruthless striker.
Throughout the tournament, he displayed a brilliant clinical streak, eventually finishing the tournament as joint top scorer with five goals – although missing out on the golden boot as Cristiano Ronaldo managed an assist to clinch it.
Schick showed a strength and determination worthy of a winner, impeccable technical ability, and the quality to produce the odd moment of jaw-dropping magic.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s just remember he’s nowhere near the level that Lewandowski has been at for the best part of a decade. However, with his proven experience in Germany, the calibre of players around him at Bayern, and the tutelage of Nagelsmann – who has already encouraged him to thrive previously – there’s no reason for Schick not to become a top quality centre forward should he make the switch to the Allianz, especially as he’s still just 25 years old.
Lewandowski, in all likelihood, will remain at the Bavarian giants this summer. But to have Schick as an understudy in preparation for his chance to burst into the limelight of the leading role at Bayern is a move worth making.