As yesterday came to a close, Fulham made the announcement that Andre Schürrle was returning to Southwest London on a two-year loan agreement from Borussia Dortmund. But instead of wearing Chelsea Blue, he’ll be wearing Fulham White and playing nearby the River Thames on Saturdays. Just don’t mention the hat trick he got there while with the other club in 2014.
Speaking of that time period, that was when we last saw Schürrle at the peak of his powers as his market value was as high as £27 million at one point. Now it’s considered cut in half according to transfermarket.co.uk. Plenty of that has had to do with the lost momentum he had when he was tearing through the Bundesliga while at Bayer Leverkusen. As a 23-year old, Schürrle racked up 14 goals and 43 apparances for Die Werkself as well as scoring 5 goals in 10 appearances for Germany. That was why Chelsea came knocking and the multi-dimensional forward played such a pivotal role in the peak of Jose’s Mourinho’s second spell as manager.
However, the other part of Schürrle’s decline in value is the injury history has started to look daunting since being a part of his country’s 2014 World Cup winning squad. Among the highlights of such a long list has even included a “muscle fiber” injury that made him miss two months of football this past season.
But here’s the thing, Fulham supporters. Mr. Schürrle did not cost a dime for the club! With him not turning 28 until November, he is a low-risk, high-reward addition to the senior squad that still needs all the veteran depth it needs to survive in the Premier League, especially in attack. If Schürrle is a success, he’ll join the ranks of Damien Duff and Danny Murphy that found the fountain of youth at Craven Cottage after successful spells earlier in their careers at the best clubs in England. If not, he simply can be surplus to requirements that won’t affect the Fulham boardroom towards finding his replacement right away in the transfer market.
With him mainly playing on the left or as a supporting striker, the now 27-year-old will still be a key man to having the squad play in different formations or give cover in case of needed rest for Ryan Sessegnon and “insert a center forward that may or may not be Aleksander Mitrovic here”. What was Schürrle’s strength was the heavy shot volume for a player that wasn’t the most direct in top flight football. However, almost all of his skill set has seemed to drop as a result of the wear and tear he has had to go through.
That being said, Schürrle still has quite a strong ability to not have anyone take the ball away from him while on the dribble and, in spite of a mediocre chance creation rate, can still be a valuable enough passer in attack. If anything, his radar and current profile remind me of what Fulham supporters demand of Neeskans Kebano and that is the role I expect Schurrle to take.
In other words, I expect Schürrle to be almost the first name coming off the bench to put a spark the front three or shape-shift Fulham into having two center forwards up front. The data proves that that is where his future lies for the rest of his footballing career, let alone while at Fulham. According to his understat.com profile, his shot rate was 4.96 per 90 minutes while coming off the bench and 3.11 per 90 minutes while starting since 2014/15.
So while he may not be as potent of an attacking player as he was when he was younger, elements of his game still exist to make him an impact player at Fulham. The question now will be what the rest of the pieces will be to make the Starting XI and 25-man playing squad be sufficient enough for success in England’s top flight for 2018/19.