Schalke 04; forever the bridesmaid but never the bride of German football.
Since the modern day Bundesliga's inception in 1963 Die Konigsblauen have never won Germany’s top prize, despite being a domestic heavyweight throughout large periods of that 53-year span.
With six runners-up trophies, most recently to Bayern Munich in 2009-10, and three Champions League place finishes in the past four years, they have firmly established themselves in the top echelons of German football.
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Yet during that time, others on a level playing field have found a formula for success. Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund claimed back-to-back crowns, Werder Bremen have secured four titles and Felix Magath even lead Volkswagen-backed Wolfsburg to glory.
But Schalke have not endured such success, despite producing a large amount of home-grown players to supplement top international stars such as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
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And the impending loss of star players Joel Matip and Leroy Sane will set them back in their pursuit of Germany’s crowning glory.
Selling mentality leaves Schalke stagnant
Breaking up Bayern’s recent monopoly is as unenviable as it is unlikely, though the exit of Pep Guardiola in the summer can re-energise those in pursuit of the German champions.
Schalke are one of few handily placed to pounce, such is their impressive infrastructure and talented squad, but an inability to tie down key players will ultimately mean they fall short yet again and two such players are almost certain to leave this summer.
Sane’s situation is less clear. With top European clubs monitoring his position, sporting director Horst Heldt dismissed claims the 20-year-old has a £28m release clause that keeps alive any chance of keeping him beyond the summer.
The winger’s dazzling performances have seen him become a focal point under Andre Breitenreiter, featuring in all-but-one Bundesliga game and chipping in with four goals. A versatile winger, Sane is equally adept at going outside as well as cutting in and going direct towards goal.
But his performances have alerted wealthy clubs across Europe and the riches of Manchester City is just one option facing the young German this summer; the current feeling seems one of an ominous summer departure.
History of allowing talent to leave
If both players leave the Veltins Arena, Schalke threaten to follow a well-trodden path in relinquishing young stars.
Shortly after a 2009/10 title challenge, top scorer Kevin Kuranyi chose the luxuries of Russia and Dinamo Moscow over staying at the club, defender Rafinha moved on to Genoa while midfielder Ivan Rakitic followed in the winter window.
The result? A 14th placed finish and the eventual movement of Manuel Neuer to Bayern Munich – perhaps the biggest loss of them all as the German has cemented his place as the world's best goalkeeper.
While Breitenreiter has a side including the likes of Johannes Geis, Max Meyer and Julian Draxler, their clear aim is building for the future - what message does it send to other youngsters if Sane and Matip jump ship?
Schalke’s class of 2015/16 still need a few years to mature and develop into a side with serious title ambitions - selling prospects condemns them to another rebuilding phase and another long spell without winning the Bundesliga.
What can clubs like Schalke do to ward bigger clubs off their players? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!
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