Arsenal given hope in Huntelaar and Holtby chase after Schalke sack boss

Gunners given hope in hunt for duo. Arsenal have been boosted in their pursuit of Schalke duo Klass-Jan Huntelaar and...

Gunners given hope in hunt for duo.

Arsenal have been boosted in their pursuit of Schalke duo Klass-Jan Huntelaar and Lewis Holtby, after the German outfit sacked coach Hubb Stevens.

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The Gunners have been linked with January moves for 22-year-old midfielder Holtby and Dutch goal-machine Huntelaar but is was understood both were happy to remain at the Veltins Arena until at least next summer.

But Stevens’ sacking, following the club’s 3-1 defeat to Freiburg, has thrown the future of the pair into doubt and the North Londoners could look to capitalise with a double bid next month.

Schalke’s latest defeat left them with two points in their last six Bundesliga matches.

In a statement, the club said Stevens has been ‘sent on leave with immediate effect’.

Stevens was informed of the decision on Sunday morning and in the meantime, former under-17 coach Jens Keller will be in charge for Tuesday’s German Cup last 16 match at home to Mainz.

Schalke chairman Clemens Toennies has said Keller will remain in charge until at least the end of the season, in an interview with German broadcaster Sport1.

“No one likes to dismiss a coach just before Christmas,” said Toennies.

“But I am firmly convinced that we have made the right decision. Stevens could no longer connect with the players.”

The Royal Blues will discover their Champions League last 16 opponents when the draw is made on Thursday, but Schalke are in free fall in the Bundesliga, currently seventh, having been second at the end of November.

Their last Bundesliga win was back on November 10, since then they have earned just two draws and suffered four defeats with Schalke fans shouting “Stevens Out!” after Saturday’s home loss to Freiburg.

Huntelaar, who was sent-off in the defeat at Freiburg, is yet to agree with Schalke and is likely to be available at a cut-price in January.

Holtby, who has an English father but is a German international, has insisted he is happy at Schalke  but it is understood Arsenal are willing to offer £12m for the star.

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