UEFA.com's weekly wonderkid: Xaver Schlager
Saturday, 18 March 2017
The joint-leading assist provider in this season's UEFA Youth League, Xaver Schlager has been one of the creative forces behind Salzburg's run to the semi-finals.
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A key provider as Salzburg reached the UEFA Youth League semi-finals, Xaver Schlager is also showing his class with the senior team.
Name: Xaver Schlager
Debut: 11 May 2016 v Grödig (Bundesliga)
Position: central midfielder
Born: 28 September 1997
Preferred foot: left
They say ...
"Since I started here, I have known that he is very good. He's got fantastic ball control and superb finishing. He has played well lately, in the UEFA Youth League too, and he is only 19."
Óscar García, Salzburg coach
"I really appreciate Xaver, because he is a role model. He is incredibly focused and accepts every challenge. He's got the right mindset to succeed in this game."
Marco Rose, Salzburg youth coach
After first playing for home-town club St Valentin, Schlager joined Salzburg's academy in 2009, eventually representing their feeder side Liefering in the Austrian second tier. He stepped up to the senior ranks at the end of 2015/16, and this season he has been playing in the UEFA Europa League and Bundesliga as well as the UEFA Youth League.
Playing style ...
A versatile midfielder, Schlager likes to be fielded as a playmaker but has also impressed on the right wing and in defensive midfield. Allied to his great vision and distribution, he has excellent stamina and – though still young – promising leadership qualities.
Shades of ...
An Austrian Paul Scholes? It is not just Schlager's fair hair that recalls the Manchester United workhorse. He also has a Scholes-like flair for precise long passes and a bullet-hard shot.
Eureka moment ...
A starter on matchday six as Salzburg took on Schalke in the UEFA Europa League, Schlager marked the occasion with his first goal for the club – a tidy far-post finish. He also scored his first Bundesliga goal on 11 March as the leaders drew 1-1 at Admira Wacker Mödling.
Best-case scenario ...
A regular first-team starter since the winter break, he seems to be part of Óscar García's long-term plans. A trip to the UEFA Youth League final four in Nyon in April may give him another useful taste of European competition, if Salzburg's seniors decide they can spare him.
He says ...
"The last couple of months have been great, but there is no lasting comfort to be taken from that. To improve, it is important to give consistent high-level performances. My primary goal now is to establish myself in the first team. At some point in the future, it would be interesting to play in Germany or England."