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Schalke get Ruhrpott Raul but Spain may have the last laugh


GERMANY/Raul’s decision to join Schalke 04 in Germany rather than one of the English sides interested in taking him will have plenty of Real Madrid fans scratching their heads, I suspect. “What is he doing going to the Bundesliga when he could have gone to la Premier?” I can hear them ask. ”What a step down after playing for Real in the Best League In The World (TM)!” “And where is this Schalke place anyway?”

So pretty good news for the Bundesliga then, eh? It’s rare for a player of Raul’s considerable reputation, and even more distinguished salary, to choose Germany over England and he hasn’t even gone to Bayern, the one big beast of the Bundesliga.

It’s certainly true that German football is in a pretty good state at the moment. The recent focus on keeping costs under control rather than splurging on big players looks increasingly prudent next to the financial excesses of some notable clubs in Europe’s other big leagues and the quality of the football has been improving too, as exciting young players have grasped the opportunities presented to them.

Let’s not forget either that Michael Ballack is back, opting to return to Bayer Leverkusen after his long spell at Chelsea, while Bayern Munich have held on to Franck Ribery after the Frenchman apparently decided a new contract in Bavaria might be his best bet, given the circumstances.