A week ago, Yannick Gerhardt was in full off-season mode, chilling poolside in Ibiza before the eventual return to 1. FC Köln and preparations for his Bundesliga debut after playing a major role in the promotion of the club from the second league.
Then rumors emerged that SL Benfica of Portugal’s Premeira Liga (and Champions & Europa Leagues) had a sizable pile of cash with which they were willing to part in exchange for the services of the 20-year-old midfielder, presumably banking on the big upside Gerhardt seems to possess.
While we all have enjoyed seeing the emergence of Gerhardt as a promising young player with a huge future in front of him, the idea that he could bring EIGHT MILLION EURO to the club in the deal was a bit of a stunner. While there is reason to believe he can eventually become among the best Bundesliga midfielders, the fact is that he has played only the one professional season and that was in the second league. That amount of money represented a big gamble for Benfica, which means it would also have been an unsuspected windfall for 1. FC Köln.
That is, of course, if the much bandied-about sum was actually what was on offer. A transfer fee was never confirmed by either club.
That said, the general response of the fan base to the news was fairly uniform in places:
- €8 million is too much for what Gerhardt has yet shown.
- €8 million is too much to decline.
- Nobody really wants to see Gerhardt go, but . . . €8 million!
Now, from there, we had a little bit of dissonance. Some figured that if Gerhardt was valued by someone right now at that amount, a full season in the top flight would be likely to spike his value even further.
The counter to that, of course, was along the lines of the old saying, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Gerhardt could decline, flatline, struggle to make the jump to higher competition in just one season, be injured, etc., so you take the sure thing, especially when it’s a seemingly absurd amount of money.
The end result was, for me, fairly clear: we, as Effzeh fans, were in a win-win situation.
Losing a promising player is never ideal, but a lot can be done with that sort of money.
Yet, with Gerhardt having just extended his contract into 2018, there was clear signs that Gerhardt was happy to be in Köln and would decline to make a move, which means, no, we don’t get the money, but we keep the player, who displays some signal that his great hope is to continue to build his professional value, which contributes to the fortune of the club.
And Gerhardt announced via his Facebook page that his decision was, indeed, that of the latter:
“The last few weeks have been very turbulent for me.
I have just made my decision and will continue my sporting future with 1. FC Köln.
If a top European club wants to sign you – and I’ve become acquainted with Benfica as such in the last two days – it would be negligent to not listen to the offer. I want to thank the FC for allowing me to speak to Benfica.
A very special thanks goes to my family and also Stephan Engels. He has supported me a lot in the last few weeks, and I am happy to have him on my side.
So, now I look forward to the preparation and my first season in the Bundesliga.
And with that, it’s all sorted.
Unless you believe the club was somehow relying on an influx of €8 million, you have to be pretty excited about getting a second commitment in the span of a few months from one of the club’s young building blocks.
I, for one, don’t believe management has proven themselves to be worthy of such poor foresight, though I admittedly assumed the Simon Zoller signing over the weekend for €3 million was the Effzeh already spending some of Benfica’s dough.
And, admittedly, I’m new enough to the club to not have experienced enough misery over the years to always be suspicious of front-office operations.
I hope to never become so jaded, either.
So, I am very happy and excited to watch Gerhardt become a top-flight player in Germany’s top flight over the next several years, and maybe learn fairly quickly that one doesn’t have to go to Portugal to get some higher-profile work in Europe.
Thank you, young man, for your decision. Looking forward to seeing what you can do in the Rut un Wiess.