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Raul to leave Schalke

Schalke striker Raul has decided not to extend his contract with the club and will leave the Bundesliga, and European football, when his deal expires at the end of the season

Raul, 34, has enjoyed a fruitful two-year spell in the Bundesliga, scoring 39 goals in 96 games for the Royal Blues since arriving from Real Madrid in 2010.

But despite having forged a prolific partnership with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in 2011-12 - the pair have netted 63 times between them - Raul has opted to leave the club and seek a new experience away from Europe.

"It is not an easy decision for me," Raul said. "I would like to thank the club for the patience they have shown.

"My sporting future is not in Europe, but rather in another league not as strong as the Bundesliga. In the coming weeks we will meet and look at the offers.

"I had two wonderful years here. I cannot fail to mention the fans, the very special fans who have shown me so much affection and respect. I can only imagine how difficult it is going to be in my final (home) game against Hertha.

"I cannot find the right words to describe it. These fans will always have a place in my heart. This club is and remains a part of my life.''

The former Real Madrid star revealed he has had "substantial offers from Spain" but having confirmed his career will continue outside of Europe, a move to either Qatar or the MLS - both of which have been mooted in recent months - appears most likely.

Raul's departure will be a cause for concern for Schalke as they are currently in the process of trying to convince top scorer and fellow fans' favourite Huntelaar to sign an extension to his current deal.

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