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By ESPN Staff

Raul eyes Bundesliga title challenge with Schalke

Raul has set his sights on winning the Bundesliga with his new club Schalke and earning some more silverware before ending his career with the German club.

The Spaniard joined the Royal Blues on a two-year contract after leaving Real Madrid following 16 years with the club, but he refuses to see the transfer as a step down in his career.

Instead, he is as motivated as ever to win silverware in "one of the most important leagues in Europe.''

"It would have been the easiest thing to do to stay there, but we wanted to do something new,'' he said in an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper. "Now I am here and I will try everything to make this fantastic club a little bigger than it already is.

"A lot is possible with our coach. (Felix) Magath was successful with Bayern, he won the league with Wolfsburg and he now wants to win the title for Schalke for the first time in over 50 years.

"That is also what I want. I think that I have made a very good choice for the end of my career and I believe everybody here is permitted to dream about the title.''

Eyebrows were raised when Raul's transfer from Madrid to Gelsenkirchen was confirmed last month, but the striker has justified his decision to move to the Royal Blues.

"I was told that this is the best fan base in Germany and I have got to say that it is one of the best I have ever experienced throughout Europe," he said.

"It was fantastic to experience the pre-season open day - that really impressed me. To feel this love so quickly was unique. I hope that I can pay it back with many goals.''

Several Premier League clubs also tried to tempt Raul to England, but he said his decision was made easy by the determination Schalke showed in trying to sign him.

"There were a few enquiries from England, but as soon as I had given Schalke my word, there was no changing my mind,'' he said. "Nobody wanted me as much as they did.''

And Raul does not regret the move at all, not even after experiencing the gruelling training methods employed by Magath.

The successful German coach has a reputation for making his players work hard in training, often using medicine balls to build up their strength and vitality.

"The training is hard and different to Spain,'' admitted Raul. "You have got to suffer and sweat, but in the end, you are rewarded for it.''

Raul is set to make his competitive debut for Schalke on Monday in the first round of the DFB-Pokal against Aalen, while his first Bundesliga appearance should come against Hamburg on Saturday, August 21.

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