Germany ‘keeper Neuer won’t extend Schalke deal

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer won’t extend his contract with

Schalke beyond next season, and Bayern Munich’s president confirmed

the club is interested in signing him.

”We hope that he comes this year. And if he doesn’t come this

year, he’ll come next year,” Uli Hoeness told German TV station

ZDF on Wednesday.

German media has speculated that Schalke will sell its prized

asset to Bayern for ?20 million ($28.5 million) or risk losing him

for nothing next year.

”Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Hoeness said ”I think

we’re willing to make it happen, and if Schalke gets no transfer

fee next year, then they will maneuver so that we can agree.”

The 25-year-old Neuer informed Schalke of his decision earlier

Wednesday and said the firing of coach Felix Magath played no

role.

”I made this decision without any influence from outside,”

Neuer told the club’s website. ”The decision has nothing to with

the coaching change, or with anyone at another club.”

Ralf Rangnick was hired to replace Magath during a mediocre

Bundesliga season, however the club has reached the semifinals of

the Champions League and the German Cup final.

Board member Horst Heldt said Neuer’s decision had been accepted

”with a heavy heart,” and the goalkeeper later said at an

emotional news conference that he is grateful to the club.

”After 20 years of loyalty, I want to keep my options open for

a change,” Neuer said. ”I have a contract until 2012 and I was

aware of what I was doing when I signed it. Horst Heldt has now

informed me of the interest of Bayern, so it’s possible that I

could leave earlier, but that is a question for the club and I will

not decide that alone.

”(I want to) make the next big step. I want to play regularly

at the highest level. That’s the Champions League.”

Rangnick described Neuer as the best goalkeeper in the world and

said he is ”very sad, but we have to accept it and respect

it.”

”He’s 20 years at one club. Not many players in the Bundesliga,

or in the world, can say that,” Rangnick said.

Neuer asked the Schalke fans for understanding ahead of this

weekend’s game at Kaiserslautern, and remembered the last time he

was booed – during the German Cup semifinal at Bayern.

”It’s worse to be booed by your own family than by strangers,”

he said.