Schalke would consider a return to Gelsenkirchen for Arsenal playmaker and reported Manchester United and Barcelona target Mesut Ozil, although a high-ranking club official has seemingly ruled out the prospect of any such reunion taking place over the next couple of transfer windows.
Ozil's future – along with that of teammate Alexis Sanchez – continues to be subject to furious speculation, with his current deal due to expire in June 2018 and little progress made in talks over an extension.
Arsenal may have to sell both players in January in order to avoid losing them for nothing next summer. Catalan publication Mundo Deportivo reported on Tuesday (21 November) that Barcelona, eager to source alternatives to long-term target Philippe Coutinho in the face of more stern resistance from Liverpool, are seriously considering a New Year move for Ozil after discovering that he would likely cost them just €20m (£17.7m, $23.4m).
Ozil's agent, Dr Erkut Sogut, is already said to have held preliminary negotiations with the undefeated La Liga leaders.
Jose Mourinho is also rumoured to be eager to reunite with a player whose three-year spell at Real Madrid between 2010-13 coincided with his own turbulent stint in the Spanish capital. However, Manchester United are believed to want to wait until his contract expires rather than attempt to convince their Premier League rivals into selling for a cut-price fee in January.
Serie A outfit Inter Milan and reigning Turkish champions Besiktas have similarly been linked with Ozil, while this week there has been tentative talk of an emotional return to Schalke.
The 29-year-old was born and raised in Gelsenkirchen and began his senior career with Die Konigsblauen after spells with other local amateur sides. He made 43 senior first-team appearances before opting to join Bundesliga rivals Werder Bremen in 2008.
And while Schalke seem open to the possibility of Ozil once again plying his trade at Veltins-Arena providing the conditions are right for both parties, it is not something they envisage happening anytime in the near future.
"I still have a great relationship with Mesut," supervisory board chairman Clemens Toennies told Kicker, per ESPN. "We would definitely consider it [a return]. If it fits for both sides, it would be nice.
"The player could say that he returns to his roots, and that he plays football in this stadium and for those fans and the region once again. But it will certainly not happen next season."
Schalke finished a disappointing 10th in the German top-flight last term, but currently occupy second spot – their highest position since November 2012 – behind Bayern Munich, after winning seven of their first 12 league matches under highly rated manager Domenico Tedesco.
Ozil, who is free to begin negotiating with foreign suitors in January, spoke glowingly about heading back to Gelsenkirchen for Germany's final pre-Euro 2016 friendly against Hungary last year.
"Definitely this will be something special for me," Ozil was quoted as saying by Squawka. "In Gelsenkirchen I have great memories, Gelsenkirchen is my home.
"I grew up there, my family lives there, many of my friends. In this stadium, I set my first steps as a professional footballer. I was always a Schalke fan and I'll always remain one. I look forward to seeing the stadium, the fans. To go back there is always very nice."