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The 22-year-old refused to sign an extension with his current side, paving the way for a Bosman move in the summer, and the club's general manager insists they respect his decision

Schalke midfielder and Liverpool target Lewis Holtby has confirmed his intention to leave the German club on a free transfer at the end of the season.

As exclusively revealed by Goal.com on Thursday, the 22-year-old has decided against renewing his current contract, which expires in the summer, after failing to reach an agreement with the Bundesliga outfit.

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The former Alemannia Aachen star had been locked in negotiations with his employers for a number of months but, after team-mate and Holland international Klaas-Jan Huntelaar agreed a new deal earlier in December, the club have revealed that the German international is set to leave the club.

The club's general manager and former player, Horst Heldt, indicated that Schalke respect the German's personal decision but is confident that he can still play a vital role in the remainder of the team's season.

"We wished that Lewis [Holtby] saw his future at Schalke," he told their official website. "But like Klaas-Jan now he has made a personal decision that we respect.

"We are sure that he will give [everything] up to the last day of the season to make the contribution of our team successful."

Brendan Rodgers' side now look favourites to secure the services of Holtby in the summer, but they are sure to face competition for the boyhood Everton fan.

A whole host of Europe's top teams are said to be interested in the midfielder, with Arsenal the other Premier League outfit reportedly linked with a move.

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