By all accounts Jonjoe Kenny has been an unmitigated success out on loan at Schalke 04 this season. The Under-20 World Cup winner has shone under David Warner and his side are right in the midst of a wide-open Bundesliga with the defending champions Bayern Munich appearing quite fallible this season.
Schalke sit in fourth place six points behind leader Borussia Mönchengladbach and in an interview with AFP (via France24) Kenny thinks the hard work they’re putting in has a lot to do with how well they’re doing.
“I’m quicker, stronger and fitter. It’s more intense, we do double days on Tuesdays - that only happens in pre-season in England.”
Kenny has started sixteen times this season for Schalke, including in all fourteen Bundesliga games after mustering 23 starts in the 2017-18 Europa League season and then 11 starts in the 2018-19 season at Everton before that. He started his spell in fire winning the league’s rookie player of the month for August before settling in.
The 22-year-old has been very complimentary of the effect Wagner has had on his game.
”It’s gone perfect, but it’s all down to the coach for me - he had the confidence to play me straight away.
“People (in England) don’t realise how much of a good a league it is. I was happy playing in England, then an opportunity like Schalke came along.
”It’s a chance to become your own man on and off the pitch. I came here not knowing what was round the corner and it was something I thrived on.”
A number of British players have successfully made the switch to German football, with Jadon Sancho leading the way at Borussia Dortmund, while Kenny’s former teammate Ademola Lookman is at RB Leipzig and his new teammate Rabbi Matondo formerly of Manchester City.
Did he struggle with the language barrier when he came over?
“A lot of the lads make it easy by speaking English.
”When the coach is speaking, you know a little bit more each time and can pick up what he is saying, but obviously it’s a good skill to have outside of football.”
The youngster is definitely looking forward to the upcoming month-long winter break that’ll allow him to come back home to Merseyside, something he’s never experienced before with Everton.
“It’s more the mental side, it gives you a little bit more energy knowing that there is a break coming up.”
Schalke’s schedule looks a little bit like Everton’s right now - they play Eintracht Frankfurt (11th) on Sunday, then VFB Wolfsburg (9th) and Freiburg (5th) to close out 2019, and then after the break they take on leaders Gladbach then Bayern (6th).
“We know it’ll be tough against Frankfurt (this Sunday) and have to prove how good we are by getting the win.
”Everyone knows the quality Bayern Munich has and how good they have been for so long by dominating the Bundesliga, but when they lose, it opens up the gate for everyone else.”
Kenny’s progress certainly makes things interesting for Everton next season with on-loan Djibril Sidibe already outperforming Seamus Coleman. Both Kenny and Coleman have their Everton contracts expiring at the end of the 2012-22 season but the Republic of Ireland captain will be 32 next season and is starting to show the ravages of time with minor injuries. Sidibe meanwhile is 27 and probably as close to his physical peak as he will be, and having him and Kenny tussling for a starting spot is not a bad situation for the Blues to be in going forward.