Schalke hint at permanent deal to sign Tottenham's Nabil Bentaleb
Schalke coach Markus Weinzierl has praised Tottenham loanee Nabil Bentaleb, but did not confirm the Royal Blues have already triggered an option to buy the midfielder permanently.
Bentaleb, 21, joined the Schalke on a season-long loan from Spurs shortly before the start of the Bundesliga season and has scored three goals in 11 appearances across all competitions and set up one more in the league. Last weekend, Bentaleb's brace helped Schalke to an important 3-0 win against Mainz.
According to reports in Germany this week, Schalke included an option to buy Bentaleb for around €20 million next summer, and the player apparently has already agreed a four-year deal at the Veltins Arena should the club decide to trigger the clause.
"I am not the right person for contractual contents," Schalke coach Weinzierl told kicker, and added that he could very well see Bentaleb play for the Bundesliga side beyond next summer.
He said: "It's beyond debate that Nabil is playing really well right now. Central midfield is very important for every team and Nabil's someone who furthers us there."
Earlier this month, Bentaleb told Bild that he did "not regret" his transfer to Schalke, who at that time had only picked up three points in the domestic league.
He said: "They believe in me at Schalke. I made this decision, and a few defeats won't change anything."
Since early October, Schalke have made steady progress in all competitions and they go into Saturday's prestigious Revierderby on the back of five wins and one draw from their last six games across all competitions.
On Wednesday, Schalke eliminated second tier club FC Nurnberg from the DFB Pokal thanks to a brace by Yevhen Konoplyanka and a goal from veteran striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.