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Stoke settle in, seek away breakthrough

Stoke City
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By ESPN Staff

Van Gaal declares Neuer interest

Bayern Munich boss Louis van Gaal has added extra spice to Wednesday's DFB-Pokal semi-final with Schalke by openly declaring his interest in Manuel Neuer.

The Dutchman wants the Schalke goalkeeper to compete for the number one spot at the Allianz Arena with current first choice Thomas Kraft.

Van Gaal has put his faith in Kraft ahead of veteran Hans-Jorg Butt since the winter break, but has warned the youngster to accept strong competition for his place next season or leave.

"I think we could do with Manuel Neuer,'' he said in the Bild newspaper. "A top team needs two top players in every position - in goal is no different. If Kraft can not accept this, then I recommend he leaves.''

Neuer has long been linked with a move to Bayern, with his contract with the Royal Blues running until 2012. Kraft's deal at Bayern expires at the end of the season and he has so far reportedly been unable to agree a new deal.

Neuer brushed off Van Gaal's comments as mind games ahead of the match.

"That is only a little trick before the semi-final,'' he said.

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