My future may be in England, says Raul as he bows out of Real

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The Independent Football

On the day he said his farewells after 16 seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Real Madrid icon Raul hinted he is considering a move to England. The 33-year-old striker had apparently decided to sign for Schalke in the Bundesliga – "The German team is interested in me and I have had very deep discussions with them," he said – but he is not about to deter any interest from the Premier League. "There are other teams that are also interested," he added. "What is clear is that my future lies in Germany or England."

The Champions League winner had been linked to Tottenham, Blackburn and Liverpool earlier in the summer but the Spurs manager Harry Redknapp ruled himself out of the race recently, saying: "Raul is a great player but financially I don't think it would be possible to do a deal like that."

Germany remains his most likely destination, though, in the opinion of his former Real team-mate and fellow striker, Ruud van Nistelrooy, now with Hamburg. "Schalke are going to sign Raul," the Dutch international was quoted as saying. "The move shows that he is not yet finished. Raul is a top player, a top professional, a great person."

Yesterday, though, Raul was keen to focus on his departure from the club that defined his career before looking to the future. "Being a Real Madrid player is the greatest dream you can imagine and I tried to give the best I could," he said. "In my head the word surrender has never existed, because that is what Real is about."

His departure from Madrid coincided with that of another Real and Spain veteran, the midfielder Guti, who signed a £2.2m- per-year deal with the Turkish side Besiktas yesterday.

Real may have lost two ageing stars but it seems the club will keep hold of a younger luminary as Rafael van der Vaart has vehemently rejected claims he will move to the Premier League.

The 27-year-old Netherlands midfielder pledged his allegiance to Jose Mourinho's side in an interview with the Dutch daily De Telegraaf yesterday. "I'm determined to stay at Real Madrid," he confirmed. "I want to stay here and succeed."

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