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The 22-year-old midfielder, also a target for Arsenal, can sign a pre-contract agreement ahead of summer free transfer - but could still be sold by the German club in January

EXCLUSIVE
By Greg Stobart

Liverpool have made the first move for Schalke star Lewis Holtby but the midfielder favours a move to Tottenham as he prepares to make a decision on his future.

Holtby is expected to make an announcement on his next club in the coming days after publicly declaring his intention not to sign a new deal with Schalke before his contract expires in the summer.

It is understood Holtby is most likely to sign a pre-contract agreement with a view to a free transfer at the end of the season, although Schalke are prepared to sell this month to ensure they recoup a transfer fee for one of their key players.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has declared an interest in Holtby, who is eager to move to the Premier League, but Liverpool were the first club to make him a formal offer, with the player’s representatives allowed to officially talk to non-German clubs from January 1.

Holtby is keen for first-team football and to play for a club in the Champions League, which as it stands is a more likely prospect at Arsenal or third-placed Tottenham than at Anfield.

The all-action midfielder would prefer a switch to north London and Spurs are in pole position for his signature, with suggestions in Germany that the club have representatives attempting to strike a deal at Schalke’s warm weather training camp in Qatar.

The likes of Inter, Valencia and Bayern Munich have also been monitoring Holtby’s situation but the player - who supports Everton and has an English father - is committed to proving himself in the Premier League.

Schalke were desperate for Holtby to sign a new deal but the Germany international declined to follow striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in committing his future to the club.

Holtby, who has three caps for Germany, has made 77 appearances for Schalke since arriving from Alemannia Aachen in 2009, scoring 12 goals so far during his time at the Veltins Arena.

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