Can Sead Kolasinac Establish Himself as a 1st-Choice Player at Schalke?

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Can Sead Kolasinac Establish Himself as a 1st-Choice Player at Schalke?
Martin Meissner/Associated Press

It was supposed to be the best summer in Sead Kolasinac's life.

As last season was approaching its end, the immediate prospects for Schalke's left back were looking great. Kolasinac was a regular for the Gelsenkirchen side that finished third in the Bundesliga and secured a spot in next season's Champions League. What is more, he could not resist the temptation to talk to Bosnian media and reveal alleged interest from Manchester United, as Sky Sports reported at the time.

At the same time, Kolasinac was also becoming a national hero. Despite being born and raised in Germany, in November 2013 he made his debut for Bosnia-Herzegovina, the country of his parents. His huge fighting spirit brought him massive support after only two matches for the Dragons, and suddenly he was branded as Bosnia's "surprising weapon" in their first ever World Cup.

Sergei Grits/Associated Press

However, things in Brazil did not go as desired.

Two minutes and 10 seconds into Bosnia's historic first World Cup match was enough for Kolasinac to find his name in the history books. Lionel Messi's free-kick cross somehow flew over almost all the players of both Bosnia-Herzegovina and Argentina and hit "the destroyer," as he was nicknamed back home. It deflected off him, surprised the helpless goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and ended up in the net.

It was, as the Guinness Book of Records confirmed, the fastest own goal in the history of the World Cup.

After losing to Argentina (2-1) in the opening game, Bosnia-Herzegovina failed to gain a crucial point against Nigeria and were consigned to an early exit from the tournament. The absence of Kolasinac in Bosnia's starting XI for this match was one of the biggest mysteries of Safet Susic's campaign.

In his interview for Bosnian daily Nezavisne novine (link in Bosnian), Susic later justified his dropping by noting Kolasinac's "poor psychological condition after Argentina," but it just looked like an alibi for a terrible decision that left the Bosnian defense exposed, something that Nigeria perfectly exploited.

Kolasinac ended his World Cup experience with a solid performance in Bosnia's only win over Iran, but even though he never commented on this, his omission from the Nigeria match left a bittersweet aftertaste.

In the meantime, in an interview with Bild (as reported by Givemesport) even Kolasinac's agent denied that an official bid was placed from Manchester United and it became obvious that the Bosnian international would be staying in Schalke, where he’ll try to establish himself as a regular this season.

Kolasinac appeared in 24 Bundesliga matches last season (21 as a starter) and added six more appearances (three as a starter) in the Champions League. This was obvious progress compared with the season before, where he had 12 starts in the league and was on the bench 19 times.

Even though he can be used as central defender or even a defensive midfielder, Kolasinac occupies the role of the left back in Schalke. It seems that Jens Keller prefers him as a first choice, with the competition not extremely strong in that role. He started the first pre-season match against minnows Rosenheim, and even managed to score.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Obviously, this season should be a breakthrough for the defender, who only turned 21 in June. He has collected enough Bundesliga and international experience to finally step up and show all the richness of his talent.

So far he has shown huge fighting spirit, but perhaps an unnecessary aggression at times as well—and he'll have to find a better balance to prove that he is made for the top stage. He´ll have the chance to show that quality, as he plays in one of the best leagues in the world, the Champions league and Euro 2016 qualifiers with the national team.

For Kolasinac, after a difficult summer the best is yet to come.

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