On January 19, 2020, Schalke 04 announced the surprise return of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, a name that has often echoed inside the Arena Aufschalke during the evergreen years of the club. The return of the Dutch striker is key to Schalke’s survival in Bundesliga.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar Key to Schalke Renaissance
The Early Years
Nicknamed “the Hunter”, he was quick to make a name for himself at Ajax, where he amassed an impressive 76 goals in 92 league games. As a result, the free-scoring striker caught the attention of the biggest clubs in the world. Real Madrid was one of the first in line and had their wish fulfilled in a deal worth upwards of €20 Million.
Huntelaar’s career took a turn for the worse when he struggled to live up to the billing at the Bernabeu. The following season, he was ousted to AC Milan. What was initially thought of as a career rejuvenation moment turned bitter when the then 26-year-old hit rock bottom in Italy. After having scored a disappointing eight goals in 30 appearances, he was shipped off to an environment with relatively less pressure to deliver.
Chances Running Out
After two unsuccessful spells in two of Europe’s biggest powerhouses, Schalke offered a chance to help the Dutch hitman to rediscover his goalscoring touch. Their gamble paid off in his second season when he bagged an eye-catching 48 goals in 48 appearances. Since then, Huntelaar has managed 126 goals across seven seasons for the Royal Blues. At the age of thirty-four, he will be hoping his last hurrah is to keep his beloved Schalke in the Bundesliga.
One Last Hurrah
A move back to Ajax was the right choice for the ageing striker as he was looking to get away from the spotlight. Huntelaar and his teammates, grabbed the headlines when they did the unthinkable of reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League in the 2018/19 season. After rejoining, he managed 53 goals in 121 appearances for the Amsterdam-based club. It seemed like the perfect time to end for him to end his career, but the Schalke legend had other plans.
This season has been a dreadful campaign for Schalke as they sit two places adrift of the bottom of the division with eight points from 19 games. The decline is due to various issues at the back, that was further exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
After a heroic return to the club, the Huntelaar made the following comments: “I want to contribute my part to help us (Schalke) avoid relegation. Schalke belong in the Bundesliga. Now it’s up to us to make sure we stay there (in the Bundesliga).”
The above quote emphasizes the profound relationship that ‘the Hunter’ shares with the club. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is joined by another former player, Sead Kolasinac who joined from Arsenal on loan. If the rumours are anything to go by, Shkodran Mustafi is set to join in a deadline day move from the Gunners. So, only time will tell if the seven-time German Champions will stay up in the Bundesliga but it is certain that Klaas- Jan Huntelaar will be key to the resistance.
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