Patrik Schick has had a 2017 to remember and it’s nowhere near over yet. After going from super-sub at Sampdoria to regular starter and €25m move to Juventus, he is with his country at the European Under-21 Championship in Poland, and will come up against some familiar faces when Czech Republic do battle with Italy on Wednesday.
As the focal point and golden talent of his generation, the Azzurrini will know all about him, and it will be interesting to witness who comes out on top in a tussle with soon to be club teammate Daniele Rugani. Looking forward, both are likely to share their best years together at Juventus.
You only have to look at his highlight reel of goals. The sheer audacity of his Dennis Bergkamp-esque skill and finish against Crotone, which put his name in lights. If you didn’t know the name already, you certainly do now. The elegant forward is not overawed, which bodes well for his future, and goals against the very best sides in the division mark him out as a player with great promise. To get on the scoresheet against Juventus, Lazio, Roma and Inter all in one season is no small feat.
Physically, the Prague native is still growing. Standing comfortably over six feet tall, the 21-year-old has the technical ability to compliment his height and has earned lofty comparisons. Compatriot Pavel Nedved compared Schick to a young Zlatan Ibrahimovic and, provided the player has the necessary temperament, he should thrive under the tutelage of Max Allegri.
Yet, with any signing there are no firm guarantees, particularly with inexperienced professionals, and question marks will hang over Schick, something which is part and parcel of playing for an elite club. One season in Italy’s top flight is not a fair indicator for how his career will progress and much of how the Czech star grows in the short-term will depend on Juventus and how they intend on using him. It’s imperative the player gets regular game time. Sitting on the bench on a weekly basis will stunt his development and a loan move back to Marassi may be the best immediate cause of action.
Yet following the inspired reinvention of Mario Mandzukic on the left flank, the Scudetto holders’ options upfront are a little short on numbers. Of course, the Croatian hitman is likely to play in his orthodox position again in future, but the current role occupied has been nothing short of a revelation and, most importantly, guarantees a starting berth.
Fellow attacker Paulo Dybala has also adapted his game. The diminutive Argentine performed in a more withdrawn role, and as a result, his goal tally was affected, scoring eight fewer goals than the previous campaign.
Gonzalo Higuain is currently the club’s sole out-and-out centre-forward going in to the 2017-18 season and this has been addressed by a swoop for Schick.
He is an impressive capture for Juventus. The Blucerchiati youngster has no shortage of suitors, with Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain all rumoured admirers for a player who may not be the finished article, but does have the magic x-factor.