Former Schalke Players Who Succeeded at Europe's Biggest Clubs

Kevin Kuranyi, Ivan Rakitic
Atletico Madrid v FC Schalke - UEFA Champions League Qualifying Round | Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

While Schalke's long wait for the Bundesliga title continues, they can rest easy knowing they have played their part in developing some of Europe's best talent in recent years - just a shame they couldn't keep any of them, mind.

Die Konigsblauen last lifted the league title back in 1958, and have had to sit by and watch as bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund have emerged as the major contender for Bayern Munich's crown.

Perhaps, however, the German footballing landscape could have been altered dramatically had the plethora of talent listed below stuck around for a little bit longer at the Veltins-Arena.

Here's a look then at eight high-profile names who have donned the famous blue jersey in recent years, and then gone on to play for Europe's finest club sides.

Manuel Neuer

While the German stopper may still have managed to rack up a considerable amount of games for the club, there can be no worse feeling than seeing arguably the world's greatest goalkeeper move to another German rival - Bayern.

The sweeper-keeper developed into Europe's top man between the sticks, and has become integral to a side going in search of their eighth Bundesliga title in a row.

As for Schalke, their current first-choice keeper Alexander Nubel has the potential to be a mainstay of German football for years to come - just a shame he's off to Bayern in the summer too.

Mesut Özil

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Arguably one of the most talked about players on the planet, the current Arsenal man began his high-profile career at the club, making his debut in 2006.

After a dispute over signing a contract, the former Germany international moved to fellow Bundesliga side Werder Bremen in 2008, before securing a move to Real Madrid in 2010.

While his current spell at the Emirates hasn't exactly been smooth sailing - with that £400,000-a-week wage hanging over him like an albatross -there is no doubting the quality he possesses with that wand of a left Foot.

Jens Lehmann

Jens Lehmann
Jens Lehmann | Ben Radford/Getty Images

A big blast from the past, Lehmann is another Schalke star who found his way to the Gunners under Arsène Wenger.

The big German had previously spent ten years in Germany with the club, before brief spells at Milan and Dortmund led him to London.

While not just comfortable with his hands, Lehmann also holds the acclaim of scoring two goals for Schalke, including a last-minute equaliser in the Revierderby. Legend

Leroy Sané

Leroy Sane
AC Sparta Praha v FC Schalke 04 - UEFA Europa League | Matej Divizna/Getty Images

The rapid winger remarkably only made his senior debut just six years ago for Schalke, before departing for Pep Guardiola's Manchester City in 2016 for a tidy sum of £47m.

While he has been hampered by injuries during the last 18 months, the skilful German has been in electric form when he has taken the field, scoring 39 goals in all competitions at the Etihad.

Again, like for many German clubs, Schalke will have to sit back and watch as he inevitably ends up at Bayern this summer.

Julian Draxler

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FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-SCHALKE-DORTMUND | PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty Images

Although the German may have somewhat stalled at French giants Paris Saint-Germain - due to the unending amount of quality the club has to offer - Draxler remains one of Europe's most naturally gifted talents.

After making his debut for the German side in 2011, clubs began fighting over themselves to secure his signature, before he bizarrely joined big-spending Wolfsburg in 2015.

Don't worry Arsenal fans, he will sign one day.

Ivan Rakitic

RESTRICTIONS / EMBARGO - ONLINE CLIENTS
RESTRICTIONS / EMBARGO - ONLINE CLIENTS | JUERGEN SCHWARZ/Getty Images

The current Barcelona man seemingly just appeared in Catalonia out of nowhere - becoming the linchpin of their famous midfield - yet it was at Schalke that his talent developed.

After arriving from Basel in 2007, the Croatian teenager would go on to spend four years at the Veltins-Arena, racking up an impressive 135 games for the club in all competitions.

Since his departure, he has captained Sevilla and won countless trophies with Barça, as well as helping break English hearts as his Croatia side reached the World Cup final in 2018.

(Not over it just yet).

Joel Matip

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FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-SCHALKE-BAYERN MUNICH | PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty Images

The big Cameroonian defender has been an understated revelation at Liverpool, doing the dirty work as Virgil van Dijk garners all the acclaim.

Few remember, however, that it was at Schalke that Matip emerged onto the European scene, before departing Die Knappen through every club's worst fear - the free transfer.

The 28-year-old spent seven years in the first team in Germany, racking up a considerable 258 appearances for the club.

Leon Goretzka

Leon Goretzka
FC Schalke 04 v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Bundesliga | TF-Images/Getty Images

The most recent departure on this list, the German midfielder has slotted seamlessly into the Bayern midfield.

The 25-year-old had spent five years with Schalke before following a well-trodden path to move to the Bavarian giants in 2018.

He will undoubtedly be a permanent resident of the German national squad and Bayern squad for a number of years.