Jupiler Pro League Revelations 3 – Sporting Lokeren’s Danish defender Alexander Scholz
Over the next few days, BeNeFoot will countdown the top 10 revelations to come through in the Jupiler Pro League this season. We look at the brightest players who have emerged and impressed fans and pundits alike with an excellent 2013-14 season. Numbers 10 to 4 have already been unveiled and today we continue the countdown with number three.
Alexander Scholz – by Bjorn De Cock
Last season Alexander Scholz already tasted a bit of the Jupiler Pro League with Sporting Lokeren, showing some promising things but this season was definitely his breakthrough year. Sporting Lokeren coach Peter Maes started the Danish defender in 36 of his 40 league matches, proving just how vital Scholz has become to the Lokeren defence this season. Scholz is a stylish defender whose first duty is to protect his goalkeeper and ensure a clean sheet is kept, but while his defending skills are considerable, Scholz is also very dangerous in the opponents eighteen yard box. He may only have scored one goal himself this season but he contributed in the build up to several more goals and his presence when coming forward is undoubted.
The Dane has an excellent disciplinary record, especially considering his position. He only recieved three yellow cards during the entire season and not a single red card, which shows not only how well he can time his tackles when needed but also how he gets his head down and plays the game, rather than shouting at the referee over decisions. The 22-year-old is known for his secure defending skills, you will never see him make an aggressive tackle and instead he always tries to be one step ahead of the opponent’s attackers, reading the game and looking to cut out a key pass before it can do any damage. This combined with his accurate distribution of the ball makes him one of the best defenders of the Jupiler Pro League.
Scholz’s life story is rather interesting. Some years ago the central defender stopped playing professional football unsure if a football career was really a dream for him. He travelled the world so he could clear his mind and decide what he wanted to do with his life. Having missed football greatly when he returned from his backpacking he realised it was what he wanted to do long term and decided to pursue his dream. Something we are all grateful for. Peter Maes, coach of Sporting Lokeren, started the season with Scholz at leftback. Mijat Maric and Jeremy Taravel formed the central duo but the 21-year-old shone thanks to his versatility.
In December 2013, Taravel tweeted that he would leave Lokeren for Dinamo Zagreb and Scholz had already showed his potential as a central defender when either of the starting duo were injured. Peter Maes was confident that Scholz was ready to take over Taravel’s role at the back. “Alexander Scholz is a very solid defender. He also tries to infiltrate from time to time which makes him unpredictable for the opponents. He’s dribbles very well for a defender and his passing is excellent. You won’t find many more with his capacities here in Belgium,” he told Sporting Telenet.
Scholz’s highlight this season was the final of the Cofidis Cup against Zulte Waregem. Sporting Lokeren won the Cup after beating Zulte Waregem 1-0 and it was a Scholz goal that separated the two teams, scoring with both his shoulder and ear. There are already some Belgian clubs linked with Scholz. Both Anderlecht and Racing Genk are eager to sign the central defender. Anderlecht would like him to replace Cheikhou Kouyaté and Racing Genk need a new central defender after Napoli bought Kalidou Koulibaly so there is serious interest there from reputable teams with the finances to back it up.
The former Danish youth international started his professional career in his own country with second tier Velje BK. He made his first appearance in 2010 and then moved to Iceland in 2012 to play for UMF Stjarnan. Sporting Lokeren scouted him that season and bought the defender in 2013 when they had some injuries at the back. Today, May 20th 2014, he’s one of the best defenders in Belgium. It will only be a matter of time before Scholz makes his first Danish international appearance having already played for the underage teams. Both Björn Engels and Alexander Scholz deserved this third place but we’ve chosen Scholz because he had a similar season to Engels but with a club with a much smaller budget. Scholz probably had more difficult situations to cope with as Björn Engels but I wouldn’t dare to say who has the biggest potential. One thing is sure, the two have a bright future ahead of them.