Scouting Reports

City Watch Scouting Report: Sead Kolašinac (Schalke 04)

Perhaps the first thing I should mention here is how to pronounce Sead Kolašinac’s name. After the De Bruyne debacle (Der Broon, De Broyn-ah, I even heard Jonathan Pearce refer to him as De Br-onion???), Sead Kolašinac, according to about three different sites (including the Official Schalke YouTube page and Goal.com), is pronounced Say-ahd Kola-zinach. Which may or may not be right, but don’t shoot the messenger.

Though he’s been linked with several clubs this season, including Milan, Roma, Juventus, Liverpool and Arsenal, it was reported in BILD on March 23rd that Pep Guardiola had met with Kolašinac’s agent to try and broker a deal. Soon after, his agent rejected this claim quite vehemently. We’ve seen that Pep meeting and getting in touch with players has been quite successful in the past, so that arguably gives reason to the idea that a paper would say Pep met an agent to add weight to the claim. Then again, some may affirm that there’s no smoke without fire. So, with questions over the legitimacy of interest to the back of our minds…

Background

Kolašinac was born in 1993 in Karlsruhe, a city very close to the French border, but represents Bosnia at international level. This is thanks to the nationality of his parents, despite having played for the German under-18s, 19s and 20s. He joined Karlsruher SC aged 8, and stayed with his hometown club until he was picked up by Hoffenheim in 2009. He didn’t stay long, though, and soon he was back down south with VfB Stuttgart in 2010. He only stayed in Stuttgart for a season, before being picked up by current club Schalke 04 in 2011. That same season, Kolašinac was ever present in Schalke’s u19 team backline, playing 90 minutes 21 times in the season of 26 games as Schalke stormed to the title. Because of this, he was promoted to Schalke II for 2012/13, but that lasted even less time than his stints at Hoffenheim and Stuttgart.

On the 15th of September, 2012, Kolašinac made his Bundesliga debut – it lasted one glorious minute as he came on as a last minute substitute in a 2:0 win in Fürth. He’d spend the next few months on the bench, making late substitute appearances here and there, until a big break: 90 minutes in the Champions League group stage away in Montpellier, with the game ending 1-1. His first Bundesliga game was definitely one to forget as Schalke were mauled 4-0 by Bayern. Kolašinac played 11 more Bundesliga games that season, 10 of them playing the full 90, winning 8 of those. He also played 180 minutes of Schalke’s ill-fated last 16 match against Galatasaray. It is very important to remember that Kolašinac hadn’t even hit 20 by this point.

Despite his recent entry into Schalke’s fray, in 2013/14, Kolašinac had truly cemented his place as Schalke’s first team left back. Despite missing the several weeks of the early season, Sead started 21 league games, playing the full 90 for most of them as Schalke finished 3rd in the Bundesliga. He played in the Champions League, too, as Schalke again made it to the last 16, though they were taught a harsh, harsh lesson by Real Madrid, losing 9-2 over two legs. Ouch.

It was this season in which Kolašinac switched his nationalities to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and made his first international debut in November 2013 against Argentina, with our boy Serge scoring a brace. He’d face Agüero again as Argentina were Bosnia’s first opponents in their maiden World Cup that summer.

Imagine, playing at the World Cup. Representing your parents’ country. Their first World Cup, and…

3 minutes in, Kolašinac scores an own goal. The fastest own goal in World Cup history. Is there anything more beautifully Manchester City than that?

Unfortunately, there’s ‘haha!’ moments in football like that, and they’re genuinely sad moments: Kolašinac suffered a cruciate ligament injury 16 minutes into the 2014/15 season and missed the majority of it, only making a return in April. Without him, Schalke finished 5th.

Last season, Schalke utilised Kolašinac less than previous seasons, probably wary of his injury problems, but the arrival of Dennis Aogo didn’t displace Kolašinac from Schalke’s side. He played 1,569 minutes, which is still no small amount. However, Kolašinac’s performances dropped last season and Schalke sought to remedy this by bringing in Abdul Rahman Baba from Chelsea on loan, and up until his injury in late December, Baba was first choice left back. Kolašinac has played in a new position this year: ‘left midfield’ (you’ll see why this is in quotation marks later). He’s settled into his new role well, getting 3 goals and 5 assists this season over 20 appearances and earning himself a 7.50 rating from WhoScored.

This improvement in fortunes, coupled with the fact he’s out of contract at the end of the season, is the reason why many of Europe’s elite are stalking him.

Stats

So we’ve seen what makes Kolašinac, Kolašinac.. now time for some Kolaštats! (Please don’t fire me Mr. City_Watch) All taken from this season. Though he’s played ‘left midfield’, his role is more of a defensive wing back thanks to Schalke manager, Marcus Weinzierl’s variations of systems employing three at the back.

Also, I’m going to compare Kolašinac to Clichy and Zabaleta. I feel like Kolašinac -> Kolarov is unfair, due to Kolarov’s stint at centre half.

Kolašinac has won 47.44% of his duels this season, compared to Zabaleta’s 52.63% and Clichy’s 45.93%. I think this needs improvement, but Kolašinac already is an improvement on Clichy here.

Kolašinac makes 3.74 interceptions per 90, compared to Zabaleta’s 2.18 and Clichy 2.12. This is very impressive: though Schalke started the season with a conventional back 4 and a high press game, a string of bad results led to the back 3 and makes Kolašinac’s interception stats all the more impressive.

Kolašinac creates 1.21 chances per 90, compared to Zabaleta’s 0.6 and Clichy’s 0.69. Though Kolašinac plays higher up the pitch, this shows important growth as FourFourTwo branded him ‘useless past the half-way line’ in 2014.

I think that these stats are good when you take into account the quality that Kolašinac has around him: Schalke made a horror start to the season and are notoriously inconsistent. If you’re a City fan wanting to support a German team who remind you of City 2008-2010, I’d suggest Schalke. (They also have some great young players like Goreztka and Embolo).

Style

In 2014, in a profile on Kolašinac just before his journey to the World Cup, Goal stated that Kolašinac’s strengths were his physical strength, stamina and one on one defending. According to that article, Bosnian named him ‘The Bosnian Hulk’ and ‘The Duracell Bunny’, neither of which are particularly catchy, but, hey. This hasn’t changed much in three years. The same profile said that his weakness was his poor attacking ability, yet under Weinzierl, Kolašinac has begun to develop his attacking abilities, using his power to his advantage. Once a steady left back with a coolness about him, Kolašinac is developing into a very versatile (I swear I use that adjective every scout report, but it’s true!) player, able to defend and attack in equal measure. He’s used to playing at centre back too, which is interesting ground upon which I will build shortly. Despite this, he’s not just some beefcake who’s going to absolute destroy all wingers next year by means of total destruction, using pure muscle mass to flatten all comers, despite playing with one of them awesome black masks recently to cover for his facial injury. His technical ability is improving, as proven by the intelligent and precise crosses he’s beginning to deliver from deep – though he is prone to an Aleks Kolarov power blast every now and then.

City?

Something something versatility, something something malleable, something something full-backs. Do I need to put you in the picture again? So far, in terms of full backs, I’ve looked at Fabinho (sort of full back), Grimaldo and Heinrichs. And every summary I’ve said a similar thing. But this time it’s different – Kolašinac has played very well in variations of a 3-5-2, and in a season, or seasons, which are often consistently inconsistent, he has been one of Schalke’s shining lights and I imagine they’re very sorry to be losing him. However, his experience in a team which plays a back three, whether he is the left wing back or centre back in that system, means that Pep might rate him a little higher than a player who is so far untested in the role. Kolašinac has proved himself in the system, and since City have started to buy players for the system rather than for the shirt sales (looking at you, #Pogback), I could definitely see why Pep would angle for the young Bosnian defender to come to City.

Furthermore, BILD, when reporting that Pep had met Sead’s agent, reported that Leroy Sané could have a positive impact the deal, as the ‘two were good friends at Schalke’.

Summary

My rating: 9 out of 10. This may be a little shocking, but bear with. Kolašinac would cost NOTHING! You could buy a Fredo for more than a Kolašinac! An ice-cream! A one penny sweet! Anything!! So that is what earns him such a high rating. That and our full backs. His one on one ability reminds me of that fateful FA Cup final where Callum McManaman left with a winners medal and Gael Clichy’s soul. However, I believe that Kolašinac would be City’s left back understudy. Shock! I don’t think Kolašinac is good enough right now to be our first #1 target. But would I take him over what we have now, and the fact he’s 23? You bet I would. Who knows, too, he would undoubtedly improve a) under Pep and b) with better players around him. Therefore I think City really should try and sweep up this bargain. A free Kolašinac! Free!!!

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