Club: Sampdoria (Italy)
A talented a much-hyped forward who was finding playing time at Sparta Prague hard to come by, Patrik Schick was given the chance to head across town to Bohemians 1905 to get some first-team football. Four goals in fifteen league games followed, as too did an outstanding performance for the Czech Under-21s against Belgium.
Schick started 2016 as a promising yet gangly centre-forward who was, quite literally, experiencing some growing pains. Seemingly uneasy with his imposing frame, he failed to bully defenders as often as a 6′ 2″ striker should. However, fast forward twelve months and he’s been capped by the Czech Republic at senior level, moved to Sampdoria for a fee rumoured to be in the region of £3.5m, and ended the year bagging five goals in five games.
The past year has been a real ‘coming of age’ story and the scary thing is that we are still no closer to seeing Schick realise his full potential.
Last season, as has been so often the case at Ďolíček, Bohemians were a functional side set up to get the most out of a handful of flair players that could change a game at a moment’s notice. Primarily, the creators in chief were the two Latin American wingers, Rafael Acosta and Jhon Mosquera. But as the campaign wore on, Schick became the focal point of the side and as he improved, so too did Bohemians.
By this point, he had grown comfortable with his height and physicality yet was also capable of dropping a shoulder and displaying a quick turn of pace that made people nearly twice his age look foolish. And whilst he was progressing domestically in green and white, he was emerging to be the real star of an impressive Czech Under-21 side as he netted ten times in nine qualifying games, sending Vítězslav Lavička’s team through to this summer’s championships ahead of the highly-rated Belgians.
And then the summer happened.
In truth, if Václav Kadlec and Matěj Vydra had been fully fit and playing regularly, Schick would not have received what many believed to be a token call-up for Pavel Vrba’s pre-Euro training camp. However, he took the chance to impress with both hands, trained well and scored on his senior international debut in a friendly against Malta. But despite his performance, his aptitude in training and the will of people back home, Vrba opted not to take the young striker to France.
By now, Schick had become a favourite of the Czech daily sports newspapers. Roma and other Serie A clubs were keeping tabs and columnists wondered quite how he would fit in at Letna, given that Sparta Prague could (at the time) call upon the services David Lafata, Lukáš Juliš, Kehinde Fatai, Matěj Pulkrab and Josef Šural to play up front. According to statements and speculation, a loan move to a divisional rival seemed out of the question and for a number of weeks, Schick looked like he might, inadvertently, end up in purgatory if no foreign suitor came forward.
Ultimately, Sampdoria offered a couple of million Euros for his services and Schick headed to Genoa.
Any fears that Schick might follow in the footsteps of Josef Hušbauer and have a miserable excursion in Italy were soon put to bed. Thrown straight into I Blucerchiati’s first-team squad, he made a positive impact in the preseason Trofeo Joan Gamper tie against Barcelona (making Lionel Messi look foolish in the process), made his full debut in a cup tie against Bassano Virtus, and followed that up with his Serie A bow a week later when he came off the bench in a 1-0 victory over Empoli.
The 20-year-old Czech remained in Sampdoria’s first-team picture and although he was primarily used as a substitute, he would record six goals during his first six months in Italy, with five of them coming during a blistering three-week spell towards the end of the calendar year.
All that we want from Patrik Schick this year is more of the same.
He’s doing just fine and there’s no need to promote him way beyond his station or heap too much pressure on young shoulders too quickly. Despite his excellent goals-per-minute ratio in Serie A, a meteoric rise from the dilapidated Ďolíček to the vast expanses of the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, and an exceptional goalscoring record at Under-21 level, he is still a relatively inexperienced footballer with only 18-months of top-flight football under his belt.
But given what we’ve seen so far, he’ll undoubtedly be a fixture at both international and domestic level before too long.
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 20th January 2017