Can Davie Selke Shrug Off Judas Perceptions With RB Leipzig?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentMay 26, 2015

Bremen's Davie Selke challenge for the ball during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between Werder Bremen and VfL Wolfsburg in Bremen, Germany, Sunday, March 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Frank Augstein/Associated Press

German centre-forward Davie Selke, 20, will voluntarily drop down a division even though Werder Bremen finished 10th in the Bundesliga.

Joining up with cash-filled and power-hungry RB Leipzig, Selke—a No. 9 with world-class potential—will spend at least one season in the 2. Bundesliga.

Wunderkind

In the aftermath of Werder Bremen's 1-1 draw against Hoffenheim, two of Germany's biggest talents (figuratively and literally) embraced each other. 

Niklas Sule was in a jovial mood greeting Selke, an ex-Hoffenheim U19 team-mate. 

They exited in opposite directions, symbolising the divergent paths of the two prospects.

Sule faces the disconcerting burden of recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament tear.

At that point, Selke had yet to score in the Bundesliga.

However, he tasted success at youth level, registering a combined 34 goals in 52 U17 and U19 games for Hoffenheim and Werder Bremen.

The UEFA technical observers praised Selke's performance when Germany won the 2014 UEFA European U-19 Championship: "[He was] the tournament's top scorer with six goals. A modern leader of the attack, dropping wide to open central spaces for the midfield trio [of Joshua Kimmich, Levin Oztunali and Marc Stendera]."

Filip Sebo and Konstantinos Mitroglou had no problems scoring at U19 level but failed to transition to Germany's top flight.

In that context, Werder Bremen sporting director Thomas Eichin could have waited until Selke proved his worth at Bundesliga level.

However, Selke trusted Eichin and Werder Bremen.

"I feel comfortable in the team, the city and the whole environment with the fans, who have supported me from the beginning," Selke said, per Werder Bremen's website. "For me it was clear that I wanted to stay here."

Eichin was proactive in extending Selke's contract until 2018.

"[Selke] has shown the potential and proven his commitment [to us]," Eichin said, per Werder Bremen's website. "We are certain that he will take another important step in the coming years and will be a joy for all of us."

Two days later, Selke steered a Santiago Garcia cross past Marwin Hitz in Werder Bremen's 4-2 defeat against Augsburg to finally score in the Bundesliga.

Taking a risk by moving away from Hoffenheim, clashing with Werder Bremen captain Clemens Fritz and going 317 minutes without a goal, Selke overcame a tough start with one kick.

It was a watershed moment.

For Bundesliga footballers 20 years or younger, Selke finished the season as the top scorer.

2014/15G/GAS%SPGSA%A
Davie Selke9/3073.34.87020
Max Meyer5/2878.66.434.419
Julian Brandt4/254054519
Maximilian Arnold4/27638.544.120
Leroy Sane3/1353.8433.319
Marc Stendera3/2680.8833.319
Timo Werner3/32501033.319

Goals/Games. Starting per cent (games involved). Shots per goal. Shooting accuracy per cent. Age.

Selke has good body-mass ratio and solid physical tangibles at 6'4" and 165 pounds.

He possesses a quick first step and is an excellent finisher. A natural scorer, Selke is productive in set-piece situations, where he accumulated 55.6 per cent of his goals.

Selke is not a Pierre-Michel Lasogga-like centre-forward who is unwilling to play in his team-mates. 

Profiting off Christian Strohdiek's mistimed clearance, Selke's deft pass set up Levent Aycicek in Werder Bremen's 4-0 win over Paderborn.

Receiving a pass from Zlatko Junuzovic on the right flank, Selke cut in, lured Mats Hummels into a whiffed tackle, veered outside and accelerated forward.

It was superlative wing play from Selke as he provided an incisive pass to Fin Bartels, who scored in Werder Bremen's 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.

Dragging Andreas Beck, Ermin Bicakcic and Tobias Strobl out of position, Selke's key pass to Franco Di Santo led to a goal in Werder Bremen's 2-1 win over Hoffenheim.

Despite giving away the ball 42.8 per cent of the time in pass attempts, Selke has the same amount of assists (three) as Johannes Geis, Lars Stindl and Xabi Alonso, all substantially better passers.

Should Selke polish his passing, he has the attributes to develop into a complete centre-forward.

Enter RB Leipzig.

Why RB Leipzig Wanted Selke

RB Leipzig finished fifth in the 2. Bundesliga, missing out on the promotion play-off spot by eight points.

Averaging 1.14 goals per game, RB Leipzig lacked firepower.

This is why RB Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick headhunted Selke, the best top young centre-forward in Germany.

"[Selke is] one of only a few players who still embodies the classic striker. Big, fast, dynamic and always dangerous," Rangnick said, per RB Leipzig's website (h/t Stephan Uersfeld at ESPN FC). "[Selke] has shown his qualities in the Bundesliga as well as for the various Germany junior teams."

Werder Bremen's record transfer fee is buying Marko Marin from Borussia Monchengladbach for €8.2 million (£7 million) in 2009.

RB Leipzig offering 8 million (£5.8 million) for Selke was too tempting for Eichin, who had been mulling over the proposed transfer for several months.

"We have been in conversations with RB Leipzig since the beginning of the year," Eichin said, per Werder Bremen's website (h/t Deutsche Presse-Agentur). "In the [last] few days [we] have [jumped] the last hurdle."

Eichin later invested 56.3 per cent of the transfer fee to sign Anthony Ujah from Koln for €4.5 million (£3.2 million).

Ujah lacks Selke's upside but is proven at Bundesliga level.

2014/15G/GAS%SPGSA%A
Anthony Ujah10/3287.55.949.224
Davie Selke9/3073.34.87020

Goals/Games. Starting per cent (games involved). Shots per goal. Shooting accuracy per cent. Age.

 

There Will Be Haters

Dietrich Mateschitz, an energy drink billionaire, has used Red Bull to not only break into the sports world, but to double as a major marketing tool.

Red Bull purchased the license of fifth-division German club SSV Markranstadt in 2009 and "is buying its way to the Bundesliga," per Christoph Ruf and Christopher Sultan at Der Spiegel.

SSV Markranstadt was rebranded as RasenBallsport Leipzig after the German Football Association turned down the name Red Bull Leipzig, per Philip Oltermann at the Guardian

Shortened to RB Leipzig, the RB essentially stands for Red Bull, which is a creative way to advertise the energy drink.

Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke of Mateschitz's expansive ambitions.

"[Mateschitz is] a daring businessman," Schwarzenegger said, per Duff McDonald at Bloomberg Business. "He's also quite visionary for an Austrian, because he thinks in terms of the whole world."

Aside from energy drinks and sports, Red Bull have a stake in "web, social, film, tablet, print, music and TV," per Teressa Iezzi at Co.Create.

There is a perception that RB Leipzig is threatening the organic structure of German football.

This is why a segment of the German footballing community have reacted negatively towards RB Leipzig.

Erzgebirge Aue supporters likened RB Leipzig to Nazis, per Suddeutsche Zeitung (h/t the Guardian).

"It certainly wouldn't be a disadvantage to get promoted as soon as possible, but on the other hand, things need to be given time and you need consolidation phases," Mateschitz said, per Sport1 (h/t Press Association Sport via ESPN FC). "The years pass quickly, but [RB Leipzig] will be there sooner or later."

RB Leipzig need a leading man, and Selke is in pole position.

Having committed to Werder Bremen six months earlier, Selke's heel turn upset a component of the Werder Bremen fanbase.

"Of course the whistles didn't just go in one ear and out of the other," Selke said, per Sport Bild (h/t the Press Association Sport via ESPN FC). "I'm mentally strong and can deal with the situation well."

RB Leipzig will pay Selke around €10 million (£7.1 million) over five years, per David Amoyal and Nima Tavallaey Roodsari at Gianluca Di Marzio's website.

In professional sports, fans generally always expect players to be loyal to their team even to the detriment of earning more money at another club.

Yet, those very same critical fans will in all likelihood switch jobs for higher pay in their lifetime.

Sure, you can label Selke a traitor, but RB Leipzig offer him two promises Werder Bremen were unable to guarantee: affluence and ambition. 

One of Selke's idols is Mario Gomez, not just for his scoring prowess, but his intangibles.

"[Gomez] has often come in for criticism. But he bounces back all the stronger for it everytime. I think that's a hugely important part of professional football," Selke said, per the Bundesliga's website. "There's a lot to be learnt from it and that's what I'm doing."

Backing RB Leipzig to eventually overtake Werder Bremen will be a defining point in Selke's career.

+allanjiang.

When not specified, statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com

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