By Hassan Talib Haji
Schalke are considering making a move for Tranquillo Barnetta as they step up their search for new winger, Goal.com has learned.
The Switzerland international is a free agent after failing to agree terms on a new contract with Bayer Leverkusen and the 27-year-old has recently been linked with clubs in England, Spain, Italy and France.
However, Goal.com understands that while Schalke's principal transfer targets are Salomon Kalou and Eljero Elia, Barnetta is also under consideration with die Knappen viewing him as an attractive cut-price alternative to his two rivals.
Kalou is also available on a free transfer but the Ivorian's wage demands are likely to be an issue and Schalke are well aware that new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is very keen on the player he knows from his time at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea's reserve team coach.
Elia, meanwhile, was deemed surplus to requirements shortly after his arrival in Turin last summer and the Bianconeri have already confirmed that the player is free to leave the club. However, Juve are keen to recoup at least €7 million of the €9m they paid Hamburg for the Netherlands international less than 12 months ago.
Consequently, Schalke are giving serious thought to snapping up Barnetta, although they are likely to face stiff competition for the Swiss, particularly from Serie A outfit Lazio.
Barnetta, whose contract expires on June 30, joined Leverkusen from St Gallen in 2004 but featured only sporadically during his final, injury-interrupted season at the BayArena.