With 1FC Köln admitting defeat in their hopes on keeping influential midfielder Ellyes Skhiri at the club beyond this summer, a host of Bundesliga clubs are set to go head-to-head to keep the Tunisian in Germany.
The Billy Goats had hoped to be able to persuade the 27-year-old defensive midfielder to extend his stay at the Rhein-Energie Stadion, but have now given up with the player’s mind set on a move.
“I don’t see that happening,” Köln’s sporting director Christian Keller told the Kölnische Rundschau at the weekend. “If the player says that at a crucial age in his career, he wants to try to take the next step and play regularly internationally, then you have to accept that.”
While move abroad will be an option, there should be a number of Bundesliga clubs looking at signing him on a free this summer- and for good reason. There are numerous players who go under the radar when the weekly headlines are being written, but when you delve a little deeper in search of the key to a team’s success, there you find them. Watching games back, looking at the stats, they are there again and again. In the case Ellyes Skhiri this is very much the case.
He has become an absolute key to Köln’s recent success, and it wouldn’t be too large an assumption to compare his importance in the Domstadt to that of Joshua Kimmich in Munich. Since his €6 million move to the Bundesliga in 2019 from Montpellier, he has consistently improved year on year, and leads many of the important metrics that help define the quality of the modern midfielder. He is the perfect number six in many ways combing passing, tackling, and running.
Skhiri currently leads the entire league in distance covered at 293.1 km ahead of both Lucas Tousart and Joshua Kimmich. He ranks joint second with Kimmich for tackles in the midfield third with 38 (Tom Krauß of Schalke leads with 50) and in terms of total tackles won he’s fifth in the league. This season has seen him also add goals to his impressive repertoire with five scored from his deeper position.
He is the top Bundesliga midfielder in terms of interceptions (43) and he ranks sixth overall for blocks. His 87.2% pass accuracy places him as the fourth best midfielder in the league.
So where would be a good fit for Skhiri should he stay in the Bundesliga? One linked club is Borussia Dortmund, who might have a Jude Bellingham sized hole to fill in the summer and after Salih Özcan and Anthony Modeste, Skhiri could tread the well-worn path from Köln to the Signal Iduna Park. Eintracht Frankfurt would also be a candidate, but much will depend on the stability they can offer next season.
His talent is clear and it would be a real shame for the Bundesliga to once again lose that to foreign shores.
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