Is Roman Neustadter Manchester United's Plan B to Arturo Vidal?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentJuly 25, 2014

BOCA RATON, FL - MAY 29: Walter Ayovi #10 of Ecuador and Roman Neustadter #21 of Germany battle for the ball during an International friendly on May 29, 2013 at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

If Manchester United abandon the chase to sign Juventus central midfielder Arturo Vidal, could Schalke's Roman Neustadter be plan B?

To address that hypothetical scenario, here is a scouting report on Neustadter, a 26-year-old German international. 

 

Neustadter Positives

Possessing balance, mobility, power and superlative size, Neustadter is blessed with the physical tangibles to prosper in the Premier League. 

At 6'3" and 183 poundsNeustadter is bigger, stronger and taller than Vidal (5'11", 165 pounds).

When Neustadter played for Borussia Monchengladbach, he was predominantly a midfield destroyer with a simple role: win back the ball and distribute it to Marco Reus.

Neustadter accrued 169 tackles and intercepted 162 passes in 59 Bundesliga games for Gladbach.

Credit: Kicker.de

Since moving to Schalke, Neustadter has proved his game is more extensive. 

Showing footballing smarts, Neustadter chested the ball into the path of then-Schalke (now Hoffenheim) centre-forward Adam Szalai against Hannover 96.

Credit: Bundesliga.com

After playing a neat one-two with Schalke substitute Leon Goretzka, Neustadter split open Wolfsburg's defence with a through ball to Schalke central midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng. 

Credit: Bundesliga.com

Carrying the ball out of defence, Neustadter pierced Hannover's back line with an incisive pass to then-Schalke (now Konyaspor) centre-forward Ciprian Marica.

Credit: Bundesliga.com

Being a passing outlet and creating impact plays is an area where Neustadter is comparable to Vidal.

League OnlyArturo VidalRoman Neustadter
Assists55
Key Passes Per Game1.51.0
Passes Per Game45.950.8
Pass Completion %83.783.0
Long Passes Per Game3.74.1
Long Pass Completion %81.379.8

 

Neustadter Negatives

When Schalke were hemorrhaging goals last season, Neustadter spoke about the team's need to enforce in midfield.

"We have to attack the ball more aggressively," Neustadter said, per Schalke's official website. "We're spitting venom again [flying into tackles in training] and that's how we need to carry on."

However, Neustadter noticeably declined in defensive productivity for Schalke.

In addition, his defensive output over the last four seasons was significantly lower than Vidal's. 

Roman Neustadter League Only2013-142012-132011-122010-11
Tackles Per Game2.13.23.02.9
Fouls Per Game1.31.31.30.8
Tackles Per Foul1.72.52.33.5
Interceptions Per Game2.83.23.42.1
Possessions Won Back Per Game4.96.46.45.0
     
Arturo Vidal League Only2013-142012-132011-122010-11
Tackles Per Game4.14.95.44.7
Fouls Per Game2.31.92.12.4
Tackles Per Foul1.82.62.62.0
Interceptions Per Game1.21.52.22.8
Possessions Won Back Per Game5.36.47.67.5

Neustadter's defensive ability was at times unconvincing last season.

This was illustrated when Real Madrid right-forward Gareth Bale was offered ample time by Neustadter. 

Bale telegraphed his cut in, so Neustadter covering as if the Welsh international would veer to the outside was a low-percentage decision. 

Neustadter was not in position to cut off Bale's passing lane. 

As a result, Bale completed a pass to Real left-forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who punished Schalke.

Credit: UEFA.com/ESPN.uol.com.br

Credit: UEFA.com/ESPN.uol.com.br

Lacking awareness, Neustadter had the ball stolen by Werder Bremen defensive midfielder Felix Kroos (younger brother of Toni). 

Credit: Bundesliga.com

Neustadter ball-watched and forgot to mark Borussia Dortmund central attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who played in Dortmund left attacking midfielder Marco Reus.

Credit: Bundesliga.com

 

Bottom Line

Vidal has given conflicting responses regarding his future at Juventus

While he said "No, no," when asked if he would join United, he also said, per Sky Sports Italia (h/t The Guardian): "I don't know if I am staying at Juventus at the moment."

The smoking gun is Antonio Conte walking out of the Juventus job. 

One theory behind Conte's resignation was being informed by Juventus that Vidal and Paul Pogba were saleable assets in this summer transfer window. 

United risk paying a Real Madrid-esque transfer fee the longer the Vidal transfer saga drags on.

How about Neustadter as a viable alternative? 

Tasked with anchoring Schalke's midfield, Neustadter went missing for parts of the season.

There was a drop-off in quality when you compared his performances last season to Augsburg's Daniel Baier or Gladbach loanee Christoph Kramer, two of the Bundesliga's pre-eminent central midfielders. 

That said, Neustadter is physically superior to Vidal, just as good a passer and would be a cheaper option.

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.com