It has been a relatively quiet Bundesliga campaign for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar so far, only scoring five goals. Compare that to being top goal scorer last season with 29 goals; he is some way of that tally this season.
The usual Huntelaar, who is aptly named ‘The Hunter’, has not struck that fear into opposition defences like he had done so successfully last season. The clinical sharpness has been lacking. Instead, slumped shoulders of discontent replaced his poaching instinct.
A long drawn out contract saga seemed the reason for a demoralised Huntelaar, with his performances suffering as a consequence. He was far from his best, and Schalke needed him dearly when they started to crumble after such a promising start to the season, claiming just one win out of their last eight Bundesliga matches.
In fact, the best performances from him was in the Champions League that saw him score four goals in six games, putting Schalke top of their group, ahead of Arsenal. Proof that when Huntelaar does fire on all cylinders, Schalke gain positive results.
In December though, the Dutch striker finally extended his contact with the Gelsenkirchen outfit by a further two years, after months of speculation over potential suitors trying to acquire his services. However, according to Bild he has a €15 million release clause in this new contract, which may cause some apprehension among Schalke followers.
The contract extension was nevertheless a beacon of hope for Schalke fans in the midst of turmoil around the club that eventually saw Huub Stevens sacked, and young promising midfielder Lewis Holtby sign for Tottenham Hotspur on a free transfer come the summer.
Jens Keller is in charge of first team affairs heading into the second half of the season. Schalke fans will hope the change of head coach and new contract for Huntelaar, will see their team shoot back up the Bundesliga table and into the coveted Champions League places come the end of the season.
If a rejuvenated Huntelaar takes to the pitch against Hannover 96 in the first game back after the winter break, then Schalke have more than enough chance to climb back up the table; as well as looking to progress further in the Champions League knockout stages.
Though there is a long way to go for the striker, a possible set of ironic circumstances may come around in the summer, as that reported €15 million release clause may tempt many a club.
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