Schalke defender and Liverpool target Benedikt Howedes has ended speculation linking him with a summer transfer, by signing a new four-year deal with the Bundesliga outfit.
The 25-year-old's original contract was set to expire in the summer 2014 but the new deal could see him continue with the Royal Blues till 2017. The announcement followed the club's 2-1 win over archrivals Borussia Dortmund at the weekend, to move to fourth spot in the Bundesliga table.
"We were quick in reaching an agreement, that I wanted to stay here. I had always stressed that I am extremely happy here at Schalke. The club also made it clear that they wanted to keep me, so that is why we reached an agreement. I am looking forward to being able to play football for Schalke for another four years,'' Howedes said.
"Schalke is a crazy club in the positive sense of the word and I feel totally at home here. I really like the familiar environment and the togetherness with the fans," the Germany international added.
Liverpool have been linked with a move for Howedes last summer, while Arsenal and Manchester United were also rumoured to be interested in him in the recent past. The centre-back was also understood to be attracting attention from Bayern Munich of late and Schalke general manager Horst Heldt has expressed his delight in securing the player's services on a long-term deal.
"Benedikt is a homegrown player, a key performer and one of the faces of our club," Heldt stressed.
Howdes joined the Schalke academy in 2001, after having spells with his hometown club TuS Haltern and Herten-Langenbochum. He broke into the Royal Blues' senior side in 2007 and was handed the armband in 2011.
The defender made 31 appearances for Schalke in all competitions this season, scoring twice. He has 11 senior international caps to his name and is considered as one of the best centre-backs in Germany at the moment, alongside Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber.