During his cold start against Jahn Regensburg in mid-August, Ko Itakura still had obvious difficulties, but when he scored 1-0 in Paderborn, Schalke’s new defender showed how important he can be – less than 48 hours after he returned to team training.
Resolute: Ko Itakura against against Paderborn’s Sven Michel.
imago images/Ulrich Hufnagel
While striker Simon Terodde (now seven goals in six league games) regularly puts Schalke into ecstasy, a man on the Royal Blues’ defense is quietly establishing himself at the other end of the field. Ko Itakura is “an absolute win for our team”, said coach Dimitrios Grammozis after the 1-0 win in Paderborn.
For days it looked like the central defender would not be able to play this away game. The defense strategist borrowed from Manchester City, for whom the Gelsenkirchen team secured a purchase option of four million euros, had to cancel his international game trip with Japan due to muscular problems – he had only entered the Schalke team training session 48 hours before kick-off. But Grammozis ordered him into the starting line-up in Paderborn.
Itakura “lives this association”
For several reasons: On the one hand, no other player has so far imposed the central defensive role – neither newcomer Dries Wouters nor Florian Flick. On the other hand, Itakura managed to acclimatize quickly in the Ruhr area. “He integrated quickly,” says sports director Rouven Schröder. “He’s been living this club after a short time.” Itakura does his job calmly and calmly, but conscientiously and effectively.
During his cold start in royal blue in mid-August, he still had problems. Just a few hours after his engagement, Grammozis once switched him to the break, which he did the 24-year-old no favor: Itakura looked disoriented (kicker rating 5).
He mastered the cold start in Paderborn much better (grade 2.5). The central defender had already done well in the 3-1 win against Fortuna Düsseldorf, when he was replaced after 86 minutes (score 2.5). It would not be a surprise if he were Schalke’s defense chief against Karlsruher SC (6.30 p.m.) on Friday.