Wolfsburg brush aside Schalke amid growing transfer speculation
Wolfsburg brushed aside the imminent departure of Kevin De Bruyne -- and perhaps Ivan Perisic by Aug. 31 -- with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Schalke to go top of the league.
De Bruyne was in the stands as the final touches are done to his record-breaking deal to Manchester City, which could see him net more than $300,000 per week. Recent developments could also see Perisic join Internazionale as the Croat was left out for "not being in the right frame of mind" according to head coach Dieter Hecking.
But there was no question about Wolfsburg's mentality as they swept the Royal Blues aside with goals from Bas Dost, Ricardo Rodriguez and Timm Klose.
Wolfsburg looks set to bring a curtain down on the transfer saga of the summer in European football: De Bruyne's protracted move to City. The 24-year-old was given an "astonishing offer" to leave Germany, while Wolfsburg will bag around $89 million -- a Bundesliga record sale, a milestone broken twice in the same summer after Roberto Firmino's move to Liverpool.
Additionally, the potential loss of Perisic will be a huge blow to the team ahead of the Champions League this season. Replacing Perisic on the right was Portuguese jack-of-all-trades Vieirinha who has spent most of the season at right fullback. But the crossing ability of the 29-year-old is undeniable, his regular pin-point balls leading to scoring opportunities for Dost, in particular.
With Wolfsburg completely dominant for the first 15 minutes, Vieirinha did precisely that, again. He broke down the right-flank, landed a perfect cross into the middle of the penalty box where Dost was lurking and the Dutchman rammed home his 20th goal in the calendar year.
Conceding seemed to spur Schalke into life at the Volkswagen Arena. Andre Breitenreiter's attacking values have certainly made the Royal Blues are more aesthetically-pleasing side to watch since the departure of Roberto Di Matteo.
On 22 minutes, 19-year-old Leroy Sane was played into the channel by Sead Kolasinac, but the youngster's shot was blocked well by Wolfsburg defender Timm Klose. Just three minutes later, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting eased into space behind Wolfsburg left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, the pass to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar timed to precision, but the Dutch striker blasted over the bar from the range where he is normally so deadly.
Schalke has managed transfers of its own in the past 24 hours with the arrival of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Bayern Munich on a year-long loan deal another particularly impressive coup for sporting director Horst Heldt. Denmark international Hojbjerg made an impressive impact at FC Augsburg last season, but looks surplus to requirements in Munich. The midfielder will be a profound upgrade on Dennis Aogo in the two defensive pivot positions alongside Johannes Geis, the former Mainz ace.
Geis had an effort after the interval as the half got off to a scrappy start with bookings for Gustavo and Sascha Riether. Schalke couldn't contain the work between Christian Träsch and Vieirinha on the right-wing and the pair combined again on 53 minutes to great effect. Träsch whipped in a teasing ball for Dost, but the striker missed from close range.
Within a minute at the other end, Schalke missed a big chance to level with a splendid move resulting in Huntelaar missing the target with Naldo hooking the ball clear. It would be a chance that the away side would rue as Wolfsburg went on to wrap up the game in a four-minute period with two set-pieces.
On 57 minutes, a corner from Ricardo Rodriguez was brilliantly orchestrated with Gustavo drawing the challenge from Sead Kolasinac who instinctively tried to the close down the Brazilian inside the box. Rodriguez tucked home from 12 yards to make it 2-0. The Swiss full-back, a former transfer target of Chelsea, threw in another cross and fellow countryman Klose clipped home at the near-post to put the game beyond doubt.
Breitenreiter introduced Max Meyer from the bench -- another player at the center of transfer speculation this week --but that was to no avail. Huntelaar wasted another great chance in the last 20 minutes as the Gelsenkirchen side go two games without a win following last weekend's disappointing draw at home to newly-promoted Darmstadt.
Wolfsburg completes a difficult weekend for different reasons as the De Bruyne saga finally nears its conclusion-- and the Wolves move top of the league for 24 hours at least until the challengers are in action on Saturday and Sunday.