Schalke general manager Horst Heldt has admitted he is planning for life after Klaas-Jan Huntelaar as the Dutchman continues to stall on a contract extension, amidst reported interest from Chelsea, Lazio, Atletico Madrid and Zenit St.Petersburg.
Huntelaar is yet to put pen to paper to extend his contract with the Bundesliga club, which currently expires at the end of the season.
That has prompted rumours he could be heading for the exit either in January or at the end of the season, with a host of Europe’s finest in the mix including Chelsea.
According to Corriere dello Sport, Chelsea face competition for the Dutchman’s signature, from the likes of Lazio and Atletico Madrid.
According to Heldt, Schalke remain hopeful that Huntelaar will perform a u-turn and sign a new deal – but admits they are on the look out for his replacement just in case.
"Certainly, we have hope," Heldt told DerWesten. "Klaas-Jan has not extended his contract, yet. He wants to focus on other things. That's legitimate.
"It is important he applies himself, plays successful football and 100% identifies with the region and the club.
"We would like to extend, as he is a first class striker, who will again add many goals to his name this season. But - like always in the past two years - we expect the worst, not the best. And look for alternatives."
Ironically, Chelsea’s potential move for Huntelaar could rest on their success in landing Radamel Falcao from Madrid, who could then see the Schalke forward as the man to replace the Colombian striker.
Chelsea can only currently call upon Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge to lead the line at Stamford Bridge, following the departure of Didier Drogba over the summer.
Reports today have linked Sturridge with a move away from Chelsea, with the Blues expected to be active in the January transfer window in their search for a new forward.
Chelsea may consider a move for Huntelaar good business given the proximity of the end of his contract, which means he could be available for a knockdown price.