Liverpool make first move for Holtby but Schalke midfielder favours Tottenham

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
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.
Hassan Talib Haji | Germany

There aren’t too many people in Germany who understand why Lewis Holtby wants leave Schalke right now.

For me, it is just too early. Schalke 04 have tried to build him up, give him room to grow as a player and have even allowed him to leave on loan twice to enhance his development. Now, he is finally proving himself in the starting XI of Schalke and wants to leave.

In my opinion the Premier League is too big for Lewis Holtby at the moment. His performances at the Royal Blues are unstable at times still and it will be difficult for him in the tough English league.

But maybe he will surprise a few people. Tottenham will be a better choice than Liverpool. Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas is fascinated by Lewis and what this young player needs is confidence. Lewis is not yet the finished product and he needs a coach who gives him trust if he is not playing well.

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.

Spurs assistant manager Steffen Freund hailed his compatriot in a press conference on Thursday, insisting he would comfortably adapt to the Premier League.

“For Lewis it would not be a problem because he is half-English and loves the Premier League,” said Freund. “I know him, he is the captain of the German Under-21 team and will lead them at the European Championship in Israel next summer.

“He is out of contract at the age of 22. I don’t think I have to say any more. I don’t know him well but what I can say is that he is a really good player.

“If I talk too much about him now, it will seem as though he is already a Spurs player. It is too much now but if it happens, you can ask me everything about him. I know a lot about him.”

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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