Palace’s capture of German international Max Meyer has certainly set tongues wagging, and it’s not hard to see why when you discover the success the 22-year-old has already achieved in the game. Here, we take a look back at five key moments from his career to date.
Destined for greatness
Born on 18th September 1995, Meyer learnt his trade at hometown club FC Sardegna Oberhausen and would feature for Rot-Weiß Oberhausen and Duisburg before attracting the attention of Schalke in 2009. He would enjoy success in the Royal Blues’ youth ranks, helping the under-19s win the 2011/12 youth championship for the first time in over 50 years, a campaign which saw him score a remarkable 11 goals and lay on 11 assists in just 15 appearances.
Schalke knew they had a gem on their hands and he was quickly signed up to a professional deal as he continued to blossom. Having won caps for Germany’s under-15 and under-16 sides, he rattled in nine goals from 18 appearances for the under-17s, including playing a starring role in the UEFA Under-17 Championships in 2012 which Germany won, thanks in large to Meyer’s displays which saw him walk away with a winner’s medal, the Golden Boot and the Player of the Tournament accolade.
The €20-million pass
By now he was being tipped as one of his country’s rising stars, so when Schalke allowed their star midfielder Lewis Holtby leave for Tottenham Hotspur, they knew they had a ready-made replacement waiting in the wings. In keeping with his junior career, Meyer’s professional debut would be one to remember in February 2013 when, aged just 17, he instantly showed his quality to a wider audience by laying on an assist with one of his first touches to snatch his team a late draw against Mainz.
The club showed how highly they thought of their young talent by handing him the departing Raul’s number seven shirt ahead of the 2013/14 campaign, and he repaid their faith by once again having an impact from the bench by setting up Julian Draxler to score the goal that clinched UEFA Champions League qualification for Schalke at PAOK’s expense. That led to the German media labelling it as ‘the €20-million pass’ – calculating that qualification earned the club at least that much money.
Starring on a world stage
At the end of his first full season in the first-team in Gelsenkirchen, he had netted seven goals in 41 games and was rewarded with a long-term contract until the summer of 2018, as well being handed his first full international cap in a World Cup warm-up game against Poland. Meyer was named in Joachim Low’s provisional squad for the tournament, but the 18-year-old would have to wait a further two years to impress in Rio.
The following two campaigns would produce similarly excellent results in terms of games and goals as his breakout season, but he continued to gain experience in the Champions League and netted the goal that sent Schalke through to the last-16 against Maribor before playing his part in a 5-4 aggregate loss to Real Madrid.
Silver medals and silverware
Having returned to Germany’s under-21 squad, he was named in their squad for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil and was handed the captaincy for the majority of the tournament. Given a platform to show his talents on a world stage, he dazzled again and netted a hat-trick against Fiji during his team’s procession to the gold medal game, where he scored an equaliser against the hosts to send the game to a penalty shootout, but Germany would suffer a rare defeat in a spot-kick competition and Meyer had to settle for silver.
However, his displays leading his team to within a whisker of winning the top prize saw Low swiftly hand him a further three full caps in the autumn of 2016, with Meyer bagging his first goal for Die Mannschaft against Finland in October. In the summer of 2017, he returned to the under-21 side to play another key role by helping them lift the UEFA U21 European Championship, once again being named in the Team of the Tournament to solidify his status as one of the game’s up-and-coming talents.
In 2017/18 he saw his position switched from attacking midfield to a more defensive role, with the intention of utilising his excellent range of passing to benefit the team. The move worked wonders with Schalke ending the campaign as runners-up to Bayern Munich – their best finish for eight years.
That campaign began with a trip to Selhurst Park for a pre-season friendly where Schalke’s star man played the final 30 minutes, but he would be back in south London 12 months later permanently when he joined the Eagles after becoming a free agent, allowing his talents to be appreciated by a whole new audience.