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Schalke says goalkeeper Nübel to leave at end of season

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — Schalke says goalkeeper and captain Alexander Nübel will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season. That could spark a battle among some of Europe's top clubs to sign the 23-year-old Nübel, who's quickly become one of the German league's top keepers.

Schalke sporting director Jochen Schneider said the club spent months in discussions with Nübel and his representatives, trying to convince him he'd be central to the club's future. But he wants to leave.

“We're not very surprised by his decision and obviously respect it,” sporting director Jochen Schneider said in a statement. “However that doesn't mean we necessarily understand his decision.” Schneider added that he's sure Nübel will stay fully focused for Schalke for the rest of the season. Schalke is fifth in the Bundesliga and fighting for a spot in next season's Champions League.

Nübel captained Schalke in all of its first 15 games this season before being sent off for a studs-up challenge to Mijan Gacinovic's chest in last week's game against Frankfurt. He's served two games of a four-game ban.

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