Huntelaar returns to join Schalke’s relegation fight

Berlin (AFP) – Bundesliga bottom side Schalke signed another former player on Tuesday with Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar returning from Ajax to join the relegation battle.

The 37-year-old, the Bundesliga’s top-scorer in 2011/12, joins Sead Kolasinac, who has been loaned back to Schalke from Arsenal for the rest of the season.

Having reached the Champions League semi-finals a decade ago, Schalke are seven points from guaranteed safety at the season’s halfway stage in Germany’s top flight. 

“We have to win games, we have to score goals to climb out of the bottom of the table,” said Huntelaar after his transfer was confirmed Tuesday.

“I want to do my part to help us stay in the league.

“Schalke belong in the Bundesliga. It’s now our responsibility to keep it that way.”

Huntelaar had scored 126 goals in 240 games in all competitions for Schalke between 2010 and 2017, when he left to rejoin Ajax.

He had planned to retire at the end of the season.

His decision to leave Ajax was prompted by the arrival of Sebastien Haller from West Ham in a transfer reportedly worth 22.5 million euros ($27 million).  

“The Hunter” is a fans favourite in Gelsenkirchen and still a threat having netted seven Dutch league goals this season for Ajax, mainly as a sub.

Schalke host fellow Bundesliga strugglers Cologne on Wednesday and Huntelaar, who scored twice in Ajax’s 3-1 win over Twente last Thursday, will rival US teen striker Matthew Hoppe to play up front for the Royal Blues.

Hoppe, 19, has scored four goals in the last two games including a hat-trick in a 4-0 rout of Hoffenheim which ended Schalke’s 30-match winless streak.

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