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Barely three years after Julian Draxler began turning heads in the Bundesliga, Schalke have produced another, arguably even better, wonderkid.

Max Meyer, aged just 18, has already established himself as a key member of Jens Keller's Royal Blues side having burst onto the scene towards the end of the 2012/13 season. With 23 appearances and six goals coming from midfield so far this campaign, it's easy to see why the youngster has become so vital.

A tiny, nimble attacking midfielder, Meyer began his journey to the top playing futsal in his hometown of Oberhausen. There, he honed the abilities that would become vital components of his game in his professional career: pace, passing and technique.

Meyer spent some time with MSV Duisburg before joining Schalke's youth setup in 2009 at the tender age of just 12. There, he rose steadily through the ranks, winning accolades and earning international honours with Germany's youth sides, representing every age group from Under-14 to Under-19.

The youngster burst onto the scene towards the end of the 2012/13 season, making five appearances before the end of the campaign and endearing himself to the Royal Blues' supporters with his performances. Meyer has continued his progression this season, nailing down a starting place under Jens Keller, and subsequently making himself one of Schalke's key men.

Comparisons to Draxler were always inevitable for Meyer; however, due to his much slighter physique, a more accurate comparison is a young Andres Iniesta, or another German starlet, Mario Götze of Bayern Munich. Götze's style of play is the most similar to Meyer's, both favouring the 'number 10 role' behind the main striker, whereas Draxler is equally adept on the wing.

Meyer's style of play fits perfectly into the 4-2-3-1 system favoured by Jens Keller at Schalke; Kevin-Prince Boateng and Roman Neustädter sit in front of the defence to allow Jefferson Farfan, Draxler and Meyer to roam forwards in support of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Meyer's ability to slice open a defence with a single pass makes him the perfect candidate to play in the hole behind Huntelaar. 

The youngster's mature performances and level-headed attitude are understandably attracting the attentions of Europe's elite clubs, with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich both rumoured to be keeping tabs on Meyer's progress. Following their Champions League meeting earlier this season, Schalke confirmed that Chelsea had enquired about the 18-year-old's availability, and manager Jose Mourinho is a known admirer of Meyer's talents.

Although he recently signed a new contract which will keep him at the Veltins Arena until 2018, the interest in Meyer is such that Schalke may not be able to keep hold of their prized asset if Europe's big guns come calling. The £15m price tag round Meyer's neck speaks volumes for his talent, and shows just how highly Schalke regard a player who is on a one-way ticket to the top.

 

Strengths: Pace, passing, finishing.

 

Weaknesses: Strength, tackling. 

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