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Max Meyer: Don't liken Spurs target to Messi; but is he Liverpool's new Coutinho?

Max Meyer. If Premier League managers ever fancied tempting him away from Schalke and Germany, there's never been a better time than the present.

Inside the final year of his current contract and refusing to consider new terms, Meyer is effectively up for sale. He hasn't been transfer-listed, but Christian Heidel, Schalke's general manager, accepts there will be a parting of the ways.

"With Max there is currently no possibility to extend his contract. He now has to decide whether he is going to play out his contract here with Schalke or whether he is going to change," admitted Heidel last month.

Dubbed the "future of German football" a year ago by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Meyer has since seen his market value slide. Last summer, Liverpool were quoted a fee of €33m for the midfielder - Tottenham, where Mauricio Pochettino is a big fan, the same.

Now, Schalke board sources concede they'll be lucky to rake in €15m. Quite a fall for the 21 year-old.

A Bundesliga debutant at 17. Called up to the World Cup preliminary squad at 18. A silver Olympic medalist last year with Germany. A year ago Meyer had the world at his feet. And those close to the Germany international insist he still has - claiming last season only a temporary setback.

Domenico Tedesco, Schalke's new 31 year-old head coach, certainly thinks so. While refusing to offer any guarantees in preseason, Tedesco has sought to offer hope to Meyer where predecessor Markus Weinzierl publicly chastised the youngster.

"There are no guarantees in this squad," Tedesco remarked, when speaking of Meyer. "We have healthy competition, you can only exist if you are fit.

"The role of Max Meyer is that of a player who gives us energy, he is in the squad and is fighting for a starting place. Whether a player plays or not, a place is always decided exclusively by the current form on the pitch."

Tedesco stepped in as S04 coach after the firing of Weinzierl following just the one season in charge. Meyer wasn't alone in falling out with Weinzierl, Yevhen Konoplyanka branded his former coach a "coward" at the end of last season.

In Meyer's case, Weinzierl's system simply didn't suit - which didn't sit right with his manager. Weinzierl accused the midfielder of being big-headed, refusing to consider it was he to blame for his personal form lapse and not Schalke's formation.

"He is a national team player, has a high acclaim for himself - and he only wins one out of six 50-50 tackles. That says it all," complained Weinzierl after a heavy Cup defeat to Bayern Munich.

To his credit, Meyer refused to go the 'Konoplyanka route' and bit his tongue: "He's the coach, it's his right."

The midfielder would work his way back into Weinzerl's line-up - even earning praise from the Schalke boss. But with no place for a No10 in his system, Weinzierl would play Meyer on a wing, which local pundits conceded "is just not his game".

It's in a central role where Meyer, standing at 173cm, does his most damage - as he has with Germany. While his club form took a dive, Meyer bookended the season by following up last summer's silver medal with victory in the U21 Euros in June.

"I am particularly interested in small players who have succeeded. I look for my role models in modern football: Messi, Götze, Iniesta," he says, though has admitted the Lionel Messi comparison is one he's keen to duck.

"Everyone likes to read positive stories about themselves. Still, it is a bit too much for me. The Messi comparison is unpleasant for me.

"I wear the number ten, but I see myself more of a second striker instead of a director. I like to push into the penalty area and try to create goal danger."

At Liverpool the comparisons with Philippe Coutinho are obvious. Should the Brazilian get his move to Barcelona, the prospect of a cut-price Meyer arriving in his place is surely being discussed amongst Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool's transfer committee. And for his part, Pochettino will always be able to find a place for a player of Meyer's qualities in his Spurs team.

A year ago, after seeing teammate Leroy Sane leave for Manchester City, Meyer pledged his commitment to S04: "I won't leave through the backdoor". But now, after a tough 12 months, circumstances have changed.

With no sign of returning to contract negotiations, Meyer is available - and knows where he wants to go. English clubs have never had a better chance of landing one of Germany's brightest young talents.

"If I leave FC Schalke 04 and move abroad, I know where I want to go," says Meyer. "I would like to switch to the Premier League."


Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

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