Lewis Holtby's early arrival will emphatically strengthen Tottenham's Champions League hopes

German football expert Kit Holden analyses the midfielder's early switch from Schalke

“We have found the best solution for all involved,” declared Horst Heldt. And yet, it is difficult to shake the sensation that Schalke 04 have been robbed. Robbed of one of their most coveted stars. Robbed of the cornerstone of their much needed campaign for a season revival between now and May. Robbed of a poster boy to match the shiny, young faces gleefully paraded by their arch rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Lewis Holtby is on his way to Tottenham. This much we knew already, but yesterday saw the process accelerated. Rather than losing Holtby for nothing in the summer, Schalke have finally caved in to Daniel Levy's ultimate wish, and cashed in early. For the sum of just under two million Euros - and the revenue brought in from a friendly - the Bundesliga's crisis team has sacrificed six more months of Holtby's services.

There is no doubt that Heldt's statements of mutual contentment with the deal extends to both Holtby and his new employers. Spurs now have an arguably superior replacement for the injured Sandro, while Holtby has six months more breathing space in which to familiarise himself with life in English football. Whether this is really the best solution for Schalke, however, remains up for serious debate.

Certainly, Jens Keller didn't seem to think so. Schalke's interim first team coach has been adamant throughout January that he would need Holtby for the rest of the season. Only a week or so ago, Holtby proved how important he is to this Schalke side with a talismanic display against Hannover. It seems implausible, moreover, that Holtby pushed too hard to accelerate the deal himself. It is one of his most admirable traits that he is the consummate professional, both on the pitch and in his dealings with employers. Far from playing the martyr whose dream of moving to England in January was being denied, Holtby has, over the last month, publicly expressed his commitment to Schalke for as long as he was to remain there.

This could only ever have been an attempt to squeeze every penny they could out of Holtby's inevitable exit. Pounds are wasted on he who doesn't value the penny, as the German saying goes.

And yet, if reports are accurate, almost every penny of that two million Euros is being spent on Holtby's replacement. Horst Heldt's visit to London coincided - though the timing was surely no coincidence - with the arrival in Gelsenkirchen of Lyon's Michel Bastos. Either we are witnessing the reason why Schalke's finances are in such a perpetual mess, or Schalke have deemed Bastos and a few thousand Euros positive difference reason enough to lose Holtby six months earlier than planned.

As for Tottenham, the success of the deal will probably serve to boost spirits after the weekend's cup exit. While Holtby's is perhaps not yet a grand enough name for this to be labelled a coup, it is certainly a move which will emphatically strengthen their Champions League hopes and, in the long term, grant them one of European football's most exciting midfield prospects.

The long term remains a concept apparently alien to Schalke. While their neighbours in Dortmund fight off attacks left, right and centre to keep their young stars, Schalke shed talent like there's no tomorrow. Their chronic inability to piece together any semblance of long term stability was perhaps even a factor in Holtby's willingness to leave the club. Had he been brought up under the guidance of Juergen Klopp, Tottenham may have had a very different fight on their hands. Soldier on the club must, however. Neither their bank balance nor their vague long term ambitions would be well served by a failure to secure Champions League football this season. One can't just help but think, though, that losing Holtby might well make that challenge all the more difficult in the coming months.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks