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UEFA.com's weekly wonderkid: Donis Avdijaj

"Football is an emotional sport, and sometimes my emotions show," said Schalke attacker Donis Avdijaj, the €50m-rated 19-year-old sparkling on loan at Sturm Graz.

Donis Avdijaj in action for Germany Under-19s
Donis Avdijaj in action for Germany Under-19s ©Getty Images

Schalke are so convinced of the quality of their straight-talking forward Donis Avdijaj that they have slapped a €50m release fee on the 19-year-old; UEFA.com discovers what all the fuss is about.

Name: Donis Avdijaj
Club: Sturm Graz (on loan from Schalke)
Debut: 21 February 2015 (3-3 v Wiener Neustadt)
Position: forward/midfielder
Nationality: German/Albanian
Date of birth: 25 August 1996
Preferred foot: right
Height: 172 cm

They say …
"Donis has the potential to make waves like [20-year-old Schalke midfielder] Max Meyer. But talent alone is not enough, you also need to use your head."
Schalke general manager Horst Heldt

"Despite being so young, he already has his own opinion. We all want characters in football. Donis has huge quality, which is why we brought him in. When he is fit it is easy to see his quality. I am very pleased with him."
Sturm Graz coach Franco Foda

"Donis has developed well. He is a fan favourite in Graz. But we will wait for feedback from our scout Mike Büskens, then coach André Breitenreiter and I will make a decision."
Heldt on Avdijaj's prospects of returning to Schalke this winter

Background ...
The latest product of a Schalke system that has honed the talents of Julian Draxler, Max Meyer and Leroy Sané, Avdijaj's scoring record in the junior Bundesliga convinced the Gelsenkirchen club to set the minimum-fee release clause in his contract at almost €50m. A car accident, wavering form and ill-judged quotes hampered his chances with the Royal Blues, however. Former coach Jens Keller once took him to Chelsea for a UEFA Champions League away match, yet decided against playing him.

Playing style …
If Avdijaj's low centre of gravity means he can turn brilliantly, the teenage attacker also has good technqiue, pace and acceleration as well as being composed in front of goal. He sets up goals for team-mates and excels in one-on-one situations.

Shades of …
Some have compared him to former Germany midfielder Mehmet Scholl, who was similarly outspoken as a youngster. The ex-Bayern man also possessed a great array of tricks to bamboozle opponents, but may not have been as good a finisher as Avdijaj.

Eureka moment ...
After some lean times in Germany, a loan switch to Sturm in Austria has given the tyro – born to Albanian immigrants – a new lease of life. He has scored 12 goals and created eight more, with coach Foda having seemingly managed to calm some of his wild ways.

Best-case scenario …
A midwinter return to the Royal Blues has been mooted, with the club a little short of attacking talent. Moreover, Schalke boss Breitenreiter showed at Paderborn that he knows how to handle unconventional talents.

He says …
"Football is an emotional sport, and sometimes my emotions show. I grew up in humble conditions – I got my clothing from the state. There is no way I could be a spoilt teenager. I just say what I think is right. I want to be honest and expect the same from other people. I want to make my family proud and happy by playing football. A smile from my father puts everything right, no matter how bad I feel. He made me who I am and he has had it a thousand times harder than I have."

 

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