Raul: United was an option

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Champions League record goalscorer Raul admits Manchester United was a possible destination after he left Real Madrid last summer before he moved to Schalke.

The teams meet in the Champions League semi-final first leg on Tuesday with the former Spain striker enthusiastic about life in the Bundesliga, where he has a contract until 2012 but has expressed a desire to possibly play on after that.

United were linked with the 33-year-old last summer before he moved to Germany and Raul confirmed there was contact with the Old Trafford club, saying: "There were a couple of possibilities and United was one but the only person who knows just how close, is (Sir) Alex Ferguson. I never spoke to him personally but there were contacts with United."

He added: "Before deciding to come to SchaIke, I thought about England, where I had a couple of offers.

"I love the footballing culture there, the respect for the game, the atmosphere, the intensity. I've been at Old Trafford, Arsenal, at Liverpool watching Fernando Morientes and it's special.

"I fancied the idea. I wanted to try something different. But I've been able to experience that here."

Raul also expressed his admiration for Ryan Giggs, saying: "He's a great professional who looks after himself. Giggs and (Paul Scholes) are players for whom I have an enormous admiration.

"I would love to swap shirts with Ryan Giggs after the game. It would be a great honour."

Schalke will go into the first leg at the Veltins-Arena as underdogs with the prospect of facing his old side in the final with Real facing Barcelona in the other semi-final.

Raul said: "We dream of beating United. Let's see if we're the better team. Logic says United will be - but we'll try."

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Ryan Giggs
European News
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Paul Scholes

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