As the transfer window opens, Schalke face a struggle to hold on to two young talents. Leroy Sané and Joel Matip have played themselves onto the radar screens of some European giants.
19-year-old Schalke winger Leroy Sané is having a breakthrough season. But the Royal Blues may perhaps wish that his rise hadn't been quite that mercurial. An increasing number of rumors are swirling that Manchester City and perhaps also Real Madrid are weighing up big-time bids for the youngster this winter.
Both Sané's personal manager and the club have both ruled out any transfer for the winger, who has a contract until 2019.
"Leaving aside the fact that we don't want to sell and Leroy doesn't want to leave, even Manchester City don't have that much money," Schalke commercial manager Horst Heldt told Bild newspaper.
Those sound like famous last words. Both Bild itself and the Süddeutsche Zeitung - far less given to rumor-mongering - have reported that Manchester City are readying a 40-million-euro bid for Sané. The teenager has featured in all of Schalke's matches this Bundesliga season, bagging four goals and four assists and terrorizing foes with the pace of James fleeing the Madrid police. He also earned a call-up to the German national team in November.
Sané is hardly the finished article, and Schalke are going to need good nerves if the Citizens comes waving their mighty checkbook in front of both the club and the player. In any case, it's hard to see the bushy-haired teenager staying in Gelsenkirchen too much longer. But at least the ball seems to be in Schalke's court.
That's something they can't say about defender Joel Matip. The Royal Blues have been trying since mid-December to get the 24-year-old, whose current deal expires this summer, to put his name to an extension. Thus far without success.
Here, the main suitor seems to be an old enemy: Jürgen Klopp. The former Dortmund coach recently responded to a reporter's question as to whether his current club Liverpool were pursuing Sané and Matip with a joking: "Those are from Schalke, right?"
Sané is likely beyong Klopp's clutches, but Matip would be a perfect fit at a Reds side beset with injuries at the back. That's no laughing matter for the Royal Blues, who likely face a choice of getting something for Matip now or seeing him walk for free in June.
It's going to be an interesting few weeks coming up for Heldt and company.