Real Madrid youth product Omar Mascarell, who played with Luka Jovic at Eintracht Frankfurt, talks exclusively to AS.
In an exclusive interview with AS, Real Madrid youth product Omar Mascarell reflects on a difficult first season at Schalke, who he joined last summer from fellow Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt. The Spanish midfielder, 26, also offers his thoughts on Madrid transfer target Luka Jovic, with whom he shared a dressing room at Eintracht in the 2017/18 campaign.
What is your assessment of your first year at Schalke?
I feel positive about it. Initially, I struggled to win over the coach [Domenico Tedesco] and things didn't work out the way I'd hoped. But then a new coach took over [when Huub Stevens was put in interim charge in March] and everything changed for me. We clicked; he made it clear from the start that I'd be important, and that was how it turned out. I played every game.
Are you going to stay at Schalke next season?
Of course. There are always rumours, but I'm very happy and I know that the club have full confidence in me. By the end of the season I was playing in every game and performing well. I felt Schalke were another step forwards in my career, and I'm still absolutely convinced of that; I'm at one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Having finished down in 14th in the Bundesliga, it wasn't a great campaign for the club.
It was a tough year, but it is something that we can learn from and I'm sure that next term we'll see Schalke right back where they belong.
Before signing for Schalke, you spent two seasons at Eintracht Frankfurt, and played alongside Luka Jovic in your second year there.
Yeah, I played with him for a season. He wasn't the first-choice striker at that point, but you could see the ability he had. He was getting more and more game time and doing really well, scoring goals... You could see that he was an ace in the box. He's a top player.
What other footballer do you think he's most like?
I would say Jovic is like Luis Suárez, but has much more ability.
So he's a different kind of striker to Karim Benzema; he's less about linking up the play...
He can link up with his team-mates, hold the ball up... But I'd say he's more of a penalty-box operator who is good in the air, is pretty much two-footed, is quick, is strong... If you can get him on the ball in the area, the other team are in trouble.
Is he a good fit for Madrid?
Yeah. As long as he's fit and happy, he's certainly got all the quality he needs [to succeed]. If he's had this kind of season at Eintracht, with the class of player he'd be surrounded by at Madrid he could really fill his boots.
Having shared a dressing room with him at Eintracht, what would you say he's like as a person?
He's an easy-going, humble lad... He's not the kind of guy who goes about looking for attention. He's a good lad to share a dressing room with. He's very focused - and when you go to a club like Real Madrid, that's important.
Has Real Madrid's poor season surprised you?
It's surprised everyone, I think. I'm sure Madrid will have learned from their mistakes and will be back challenging for trophies next season.