Tottenham defender Kevin Wimmer could be in line for a return to Germany less than six months on from his move to the English Premier League. Bundesliga club Schalke have confirmed they are in talks to sign the 23 year old, who moved to White Hart Lane from FC Cologne in April 2015, on either a permanent or loan deal.
The Austria international has made fleeting appearances in the Spurs first team in his maiden campaign in English football, earning just one Premier League outing all season. That run-out came in the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace as a replacement for injured defender Jan Vertonghen, who faces a scan on a knee problem.
Wimmer's showings this season have been restricted to Tottenham's domestic cup and European games and though the 6ft 2in centre-back is seen as a player for the future his workload has been significantly reduced back since being a key part of the Cologne back-four last season. Schalke chairman Clemens Toennies says his side are interested in the player, with talks at an advanced stage.
Toennies told Sky Germany, according to Sky Sports: "We have talked to Carlos Zambrano of Frankfurt – but we decided not to sign him. Now our focus is on Kevin Wimmer and John-Anthony Brooks. We are in advanced talks with both of them."
The results of the scan on Vertonghen's injury, suffered in a clash with Palace striker Connor Wickham at Selhurst Park, would likely influence Tottenham's decision over whether to allow Wimmer to leave. However, Mauricio Pochettino could yet pull the plug on the deal even if his Belgian defender is given a clean bill of health, given his side's upcoming schedule.
Coupled with their 15 remaining Premier League fixtures of the season, Tottenham face Colchester United in the FA Cup fourth round and Fiorentina in the Europa League last 32. Progress in either competition would lead to hefty fixture congestion during the sharp end of the campaign, and Wimmer may be required to take the heat off the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Vertonghen, who are the established first-choice pair at the heart of Pochettino's back four.
A permanent departure for Wimmer would be as a major surprise after he became the north Londoners' first signing of the summer transfer window last year. The former Austria youth international arrived in English football appreciative of the opportunity to continue his football education.
"Tottenham is a really big club with a lot of tradition," he told Sky Sports in August. "I'm really looking forward to it and it's a good place to be for young players. I've been watching the Premier League ever since I was a small child and especially last season I saw a lot of Tottenham games The atmosphere in the stadium was incredible and the supporters are very good and very emotional. It's great to play in a stadium like that with the fans on your back and pushing you."