Sliding down the table and struggling with injuries, Schalke have brought in Bundesliga veteran Raffael on loan for the rest of the season. The Brazilian, formerly of Hertha Berlin, had failed to impress at Dynamo Kyiv.
Schalke brought in attacking reinforcements, albeit on a temporary basis, on Wednesday, seeking to halt a seven game winless slide in the Bundesliga. The Gelsenkirchen club announced that it had picked up Brazilian forward Raffael, once a fan favorite in the German capital, on loan for the remainder of the season.
"As a result of our continuing misfortunes with injuries – for instance the at least two-month injury to Ibrahim Afellay – we have decided to again make a move on the transfer market," club manager Horst Heldt said. "We are very happy to have completed the signing of Raffael. He improves our options in attack. Furterhmore, Raffael will have no problems acclimatizing, seeing as he has played for four years in Germany."
The 27-year-old Brazilian might make his Schalke debut as early as Friday, when the Royal Blues face Hannover seeking to turn their fortunes around in the first Bundesliga game since the winter break. He will, however, need to secure a work permit in time.
Raffael moved from relegated Hertha Berlin, where he scored 33 goals in 140 appearances, to Dynamo Kyiv in the summer for a fee of eight million euros ($10.6 million). The new acquisition had a tough time in Ukraine, however, managing only nine appearances and one goal. Only sporadically a starter, he had not played for Kyiv since October.
'Honored' to wear blue
Raffael will not be able to represent Schalke in the Champions League knock-out stages, having played in the competition for Kyiv.
"I feel honored to be able to wear the Schalke shirt and am hugely excited about returning to the Bundesliga. The fans can rest assured that I will give my best to make the club succeed," Raffael said.
Raffael experienced a roller-coaster ride during his time at Hertha, helping them to fourth in the table in the 2008/9 season – when even victory looked on the cards until a late dip in form. The next year, he was part of the team's shocking slide towards relegation, before helping them bounce straight back up into the top flight. Last season, Hertha were again relegated.
The Brazilian is a quick and creative player, comfortable both as a forward and an attacking midfielder - his more likely home at Schalke alongside out-and-out marksman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Raffael may line up against another new Brazilian acquisition in Friday's encounter with Hannover. The northern German side announced earlier in the week that defensive midfielder Franca, a 21-year-old, had joined for around 1.2 million euros from Coritiba. Mirko Slomka's Hannover sit 11th in the league, boasting recent league form that's only marginally better than Schalke, who have not won a Bundesliga game since November 10.