Schalke would welcome Mesut Ozil return, but won't happen next summer
Schalke would "definitely consider" welcoming back Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil to the club, but would not be able to bring him in next summer.
Ozil, 29, has entered the final few months of his current deal at Arsenal, and is free to discuss a summer move to a foreign club from January.
The Germany international made his first steps in professional football at Schalke, making his debut for the club in August 2006 before leaving for Werder Bremen in January 2008.
"I still have a great relationship with Mesut," Schalke's supervisory board head Clemens Tonnies told kicker in a rare interview. "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."
Following a turbulent few years, Schalke's new head coach Domenico Tedesco has stabilised the club this season.
Ahead of Saturday's derby at local rivals Borussia Dortmund, Schalke sit second in the Bundesliga following a 2-0 win against Hamburg on Sunday.
They currently have a three-point lead on struggling Dortmund and go into the match at the Westfalenstadion as favourites.
"It shows that we've gained on them -- for the moment," Tonnies said. "In the long-term, we want to be ahead of Dortmund again, and would love to overtake them. It doesn't have to be this season, but if it's happens it's still good."
Yet for all the success on the pitch this season, Schalke still have a lot of work to do off it, with key players Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka's contracts due to expire next summer.
Meyer has in recent weeks said that his future remains open, and, speaking to Sky Deutschland at the weekend, Goretzka also said he has yet to make a decision.
Goretzka has been linked with several of Europe's top clubs including Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich, and on Sunday he said he held "good talks" with Schalke but now needed some time to think.
"I need to make the decision for myself," the 22-year-old said. "I have not set myself a deadline. The decision-making process is ongoing, and once it's over I will make myself heard, I guess."
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.