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Football | Germany

Ibrahim Afellay © Action Images

Afellay eager for Barcelona return



Schalke 04's chances of holding onto Dutch star Ibrahim Afellay for next season look slim with the Barcelona forward admitting he wants to return to Barcelona once his loan deal expires in Gelsenkirchen.

Afellay is set to add to his 43 appearances for the Oranje against Germany in Wednesday's international friendly.

"It is my goal to return to Barcelona," said the 26-year-old with his loan deal to expire in June.

"But it is just as important for me to have fun playing. The feel is stronger than ever."

Schalke general manager Horst Heldt is realistic about the Royal Blues' chances of keeping the Dutchman.

"If we want to have a chance, then it must be an emotional decision. He has to want to stay with us," said Heldt.

Having joined Barcelona in January 2011 from PSV Eindhoven, injury and lack of opportunities meant Afellay did not make an appearance for the Spanish giants during his 18 months there before moving to the Bundesliga in August.

The winger says he appreciates more than anyone the benefits of regular football and full fitness.

"It's not always a given that you are fit, healthy and able to play," he said, having impressed at Schalke after a slow start to the season.

"I know that from my own experiences and therefore appreciate it all the more."

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