Returning with another episode of Player Insights, you guys voted for Fabian Schar to feature. The classy Swiss defender will therefore be the focus of today’s episode.
Schar was born in Switzerland and began his footballing career at local team Wil. He quickly progressed through the youth ranks, and by 2009 he was playing first team football in the Swiss Challenge League, the second division in Switzerland.
These consistent performances earned Schar a move up a division, as he signed with Basel at the beginning of the 2012/13 season. He stayed with the club for 3 full seasons, collecting the league title in each of his seasons and competing on club football’s biggest stage, the Champions League.
The team that Schar was playing in, was somewhat of a golden era for the Swiss team, with teammates Mohammed Salah, Alexander Frei and Yann Sommer all developing into great players.
Following Schar’s success in his home country, he decided to make the move into one of Europe’s top 5 leagues and joined German club Hoffenheim.
His spell in Germany was fairly successful racking up 30 league appearances across the 2 seasons. The higher level of opposition allowed Schar to improve his defensive side of the game, which was not hugely tested as Basel often dominated teams in the Swiss League.
Admittedly, the first season in Germany did not go as planned for Schar, with former manager Huub Stevens not getting the best from his team resulting in a season spent flirting with relegation, but ending with a 15th placed finish.
The following season, now highly-rated manager Julian Nagelsmann took the reigns of the club, transforming the team into one which finished in 4th.
Fabian Schar was then deemed surplus to requirements and made the move to Spain, joining Deportivo La Coruna. On a personal perspective, this was a great transfer. Schar was at the club for a single season, but was often the standout player in the team which overall performed very poorly.
At the end of the season Deportivo La Coruna were relegated, but in contrast Schar’s reputation had significantly grown. The experience gained from playing against the worlds best players such as Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo was perhaps one the reasons Rafa Benitez decided to bring the Swiss defender to Tyneside.
Life at Newcastle
Schar was bought to Newcastle by Rafa Benitez following the activation of his £3 million buyout clause.
He has been a huge success on Tyneside showing great awareness as part of our four or five man defensive backline. The Swiss was perhaps recruited to play a backup role in the Newcastle squad, with Lejeune being our main ball-playing defender, however this hasn’t been the case.
Few would argue that Lejeune is not the best defender at our club, however with multiple long-term injuries keeping the Frenchman on the sidelines, Schar has massively stepped up to his responsibilities and become an integral part of our starting lineup.
His defensive side of the game exceeded all my expectations, with the Swiss often putting in vital tackles, and calmly being able to play himself out of trouble at the back. He has also salvaged us points by performing multiple goal line clearances in pivotal moments of our games.
At the other end of the pitch Schar has often stepped up in moments we needed a bit of magic. Although he is a defender it was perhaps no surprise that he has contributed so many goals, doing this for each club he has represented. Schar’s goal scoring record currently stands at 35, coming within his 275 senior appearances so far, this is a goal every 8 games for the central defender!
The brace against Cardiff back in January 2019, showed the composure Schar maintains in front of the oppositions goal. He picked up the ball towards the edge of the box, beat his man and found himself inside Cardiff’s box. In contrast to how many defenders would react in this unnatural position, Schar calmly slotted the ball in the bottom corner, a finish that a center forward would be proud of. He also chipped in with a further goal later on earning Newcastle a convincing 3-0 win, against our relegation rivals.
To further highlight his threat at the other end of the pitch, a 30 yard strike thundered into the net against Burnley won the Premier League goal of the month for February.
What the future may hold
Of course to be a successful football club you need to keep hold of your best players. The issue with that is you need to have the ambition to be a successful club, and not always prioritise profits.
Under the ownership of Mike Ashley I always feel we are at the helm of a double edged sword. On one hand a player is recruited and performs to either an average, or below par level. This results in the club continuing at its current level, and aiming towards Premier League survival. On the other hand, the player exceeds all expectations and displays a real sense of potential, this is when other clubs start circling and we are at risk of losing our best players. If profits are continued to be prioritised over success we will lose our best performing players, and again ensure we dont progress as a club.
In the case of Fabian Schar, he has clearly performed to a brilliant level consistently, and therefore attracted interest from clubs such as AC Milan and Arsenal. It is now up to the club to keep the Swiss at the club. We need to show him ambition, we need to show him a reason to stay.
I truly hope Schar stays on Tyneside in the long-term future. He’s playing style is so refreshing and shows true progression from the likes of Steven Taylor or Mike Williamson, who only a few years ago was a centre back pairing scared of the ball. If we want to move forward then players of Schar’s calibre need to be the standard amongst our squad.