Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nabil Bentaleb could return to the Premier League as early as next summer, even if Schalke trigger an option to sign the player on a permanent deal this weekend, IBTimes UK understands.
Bentaleb, 21, was a first-team regular under Mauricio Pochettino during the Argentine's first full season in charge at White Hart Lane during the 2014-15 campaign. The Spurs academy graduate struggled with a string of injury problems last season leaving north London to join Schalke on a season-long loan in August.
The Algeria international has become a regular in Markus Weinzierl's first team at the Vetlins Arena this season and is expected to make his 20th league appearance for the club on Sunday (19 February) against Cologne. IBTimes UK has learned that his appearance will automatically trigger a clause that will see Schalke make the move permanent, with the deal expected to be formalised next week.
A four-year contract was agreed with the player last summer and will automatically come into effect as soon as the deal is done. Tottenham are set to receive €23m for the player who came through their academy - €21m (£17.8m) for the permanent transfer in addition to a €2m (£1.7m) loan fee they have already received.
After a slow start, Bentaleb has impressed in Germany this season and his continued progress has not gone unnoticed by Premier League clubs, who have regularly dispatched scouts to watch over him this season. According to a source close to the player, two English sides currently playing in this season's Champions League campaign have continued to keep tabs on him and have not ruled out the possibility of returning for the player further down the line.
That continued interest has seen Schalke and Bentaleb come to a gentleman's agreement over his future – whereby the German side will allow the midfielder to leave if an acceptable offer is received during the summer transfer window. An offer between €30m and €35m is understood to be enough to trigger another move.
Bentaleb made 66 senior appearances for Spurs but just five of them came last season amid persistent ankle and knee injuries preventing him from building on his impressive start to life under Pochettino.
The former Lille youngster has scored five goals and provided five assists for Schalke this term and on Thursday he was named the Bundesliga Rookie of the Year award for the first half of the 2016-17 season ahead of Borussia Dortmund starlet Ousmane Dembele and RB Leipzig's Naby Keita.