Breaking Down What Makes Klaas-Jan Huntelaar so Special

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23:  Klaas-Jan Huntelaar of FC Schalke 04 during a training session at Emirates Stadium on October 23, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In one word, I can tell you exactly what makes Klaas-Jan Huntelaar of Schalke such a special talent: Finishing.

Well, we're done here, folks. Thanks for reading.

I kid, I kid—it's not as simple as that. Huntelaar is brilliant at putting the ball into the back of the net, yes, and outside of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, he is one of the best pure goal scorers in the world today. 

However, it isn't as easy as get ball, kick ball, score goal. His brilliance doesn't just come from the fact that he can score goals, but rather how good he is at putting himself in position to score them, and the variety of ways he can finish.

Watch a highlight film of Huntelaar, and you'll be amazed at how many easy goals he scores. You might think that is primarily a product of his teammates—and their efforts shouldn't be diminished—but if you look a little more closely, you'll see a player who consistently exhibits excellent movement and positioning.

When we talk about finishing, we tend to judge players on how they strike with both feet and how strong they are in the air, but positioning plays a huge part. If you can't put yourself into open, threatening spaces, how will your teammates find you in the first place?

Huntelaar has a nose for those spaces. He knows how to sneak behind defenders, he naturally gravitates to open positions on the pitch and he always seems to be in the perfect spot to fire on net. 

No, he's not going to blow by anyone with pure speed, but he makes up for it with guile, solid movement and strength. Plus, he's very capable of holding possession and feeding his teammates as the attack progresses.

That makes him the ideal single striker, in my opinion, capable of being most effective in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation.

Well, that's one reason why he's so ideal up top.

The fact that he is a brilliant and versatile finisher also helps.

Huntelaar is very strong in the air, making him a dangerous weapon on a team with proficient crossers. He's also equally dangerous with either foot, making him a threat from multiple angles and positions. Plus, he's crafty enough to know when to let it rip or when to attempt a cheeky chip.

Most importantly, he's decisive. Very rarely will you see Huntelaar tentatively take a shot. He doesn't wait until the ball is at his feet or on his head to decide where to send it—he's picked a target from the moment he saw the pass heading his way.

No, he isn't as athletic or dangerous off the volley as his countryman, Robin van Persie. However, I would argue he's better in the air, stronger on his weak foot and equally dangerous in his movement and positioning.

It's one reason why all of the speculation suggesting Arsenal are interested in adding the Schalke striker via transfer this January makes so much sense. He truly would be a perfect fit as the team's striker, and give them the pure finisher they desperately need.

Even at 29, Huntelaar will demand attention on the market this January, especially since his contract with Schalke runs out after this season and the German side might not want to risk losing him for free this summer.

For teams in desperate need of a pure goal scorer—and unwilling to break the bank on Radamel Falcao—Huntelaar is an excellent target and at solid value.

If you need a finisher, there are few better than Huntelaar. 


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