Benedikt Höwedes has been stripped of the Schalke 04 captaincy, with the new Bundesliga season due to kick off on Friday. He had been the team's captain since July 2011, but is back regaining fitness following a groin operation in May.
2018 World Cup on the horizon
“He was disappointed, but he accepted the decision and he knows that, with the World Cup a year away, he can concentrate now solely on his football”, explained Schalke director of sport Christian Heidel.
Höwedes was Germany's left-back at 2014 World Cup Brazil and played every minute of their seven games at the tournament. “Even if I don't agree with the decision, I have to accept it”, the player conceded on his Facebook page. “As long as I am a player at FC Schalke, I will do everything I can for the club, the staff, the team and the fans”.
Goretzka as deputy captain
Following his demotion, goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann will captain Schalke with midfielder Leon Goretzka as his deputy. “From what I have seen of him, 'Bene' is 100 percent professional and doesn't need the armband to take responsibility”, said new Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco.
The 29-year-old Höwedes is expected to feature against RB Leipzig at home on Saturday in Schalke's first home league game after Bayern Munich open the new season against Bayer Leverkusen on Friday. Höwedes sat out Monday's 2-0 win at Dynamo Berlin in the first round of the German Cup, during which Fährmann wore the armband.
“He had a groin operation, which meant a late return to pre-season training, didn't play in our warm-up games and so it's a logical consequence that we only took fit players”, Tedesco explained. “He'll be back in the squad for next Saturday”.