Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is looking forward to returning to Schalke on Saturday and has tipped his former club to be among the Bundesliga title challengers this season.
Neuer, 27, played 156 Bundesliga games for Schalke and spent a total of 20 years at his hometown club from youth level until he joined Bayern in 2011.
The Germany international became his country’s most expensive keeper of all-time when the Bavarians splashed out €27.5 million including add-ons to prise him from the Royal Blues.
It took Neuer another year to win the Bundesliga title, having been denied with Schalke on the final day of the 2006-2007 season.
He has yet to be on the losing side against his former club since his departure and is relishing the prospect of lining up against Schalke again.
“I am in my third season at Bayern now, but still know my way around Schalke,” Neuer told kicker. “I was born in Buer [a Gelsenkirchen suburb] and played for Schalke for 20 years. Of course, that is a homecoming."
While not ruling out returning to Schalke after hanging up his boots, Neuer said that he could imagine staying at Bayern for the rest of his career. “But you never know what the future has lined up for you,” he added. “Football is fast moving and a business.”
That fast-moving business is responsible for one of the most surprising transfers of the summer -- Kevin-Prince Boateng’s return to the Bundesliga. The former AC Milan star was on target again in Schalke’s 3-0 win over Steaua Bucuresti on Wednesday night.
“Schalke also play in the Champions League, that’s why it won’t be easy to beat them away,” Neuer said. “It worked out in the past two years. [But] now Schalke reinforced their squad again, and immediately they are on a roll. Schalke are dangerous in attack, especially after the Kevin-Prince Boateng transfer.”
Neuer explained that at first he was surprised to hear about the Boateng signing and then went on to praise the Berlin-born Ghana international.
“I played with Kevin-Prince in the Germany Under-21s [before Boateng switched allegiances ahead of the 2010 World Cup]. He is a very good player,” Neuer said. “He had a good start at Schalke. He is dangerous.”
Neuer added that he was “100% certain” that Boateng has made Schalke stronger. Bayern, currently second in Bundesliga and trailing league leaders Borussia Dortmund by two points, take on Schalke, who have not conceded a goal in three successive games, on Saturday evening.