Schalke in crisis: Two released, one suspended, Di Matteo’s European hopes in limbo

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Kevin Prince-Boateng has now been dismissed by club and country.

The 28-year-old midfielder was sent home early from Ghana’s failed World Cup run, and now has been kicked out of Schalke. Recently tipped for an MLS move to the New York Red Bulls, Prince-Boateng and Sidney Sam were released by Schalke on Monday. Additionally, Marco Höger was suspended for a week.

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Just two months ago, Schalke was contending for everything short of Bayern’s throne. But a run of uninspiring play has seen the club win just one match since February, culminating in a 2-0 loss at Koln that Julian Draxler called “a truly awful performance.”

So manager Roberto Di Matteo has some big, big problems on his hands. Prince-Boateng and Sam had only made 18 starts between them, so it’s clearly a case of separating the wheat from the chaff, but Hoger has started the fourth-most matches on the side, with 25 (tied with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar).

And now they’re in a cluttered bunch working towards European places. With two games to play — against desperate but relegation-threatened Paderborn and Hamburg — can Schalke save its Europa League hopes?

5. FC Augsburg 32 14 4 14 39 40 -1 9-4-3 5-0-11 46
6. FC Schalke 04 32 12 9 11 41 38 3 9-5-2 3-4-9 45
7. Borussia Dortmund 32 12 7 13 43 38 5 8-3-5 4-4-8 43
8. Werder Bremen 32 11 10 11 48 60 -12 8-4-4 3-6-7 43
9. 1899 Hoffenheim 32 11 8 13 47 52 -5 8-3-5 3-5-8 41

It’s a dramatic move, but not necessarily a bad one. The dressing room will understand who’s in charge, and perhaps many Schalke players will be pleased to rid themselves of Sam and Prince-Boateng. In the case of the latter, New York beware, because while this guy’s got the work rate and aggression  of Jermaine Jones, he’s clearly got some demons to exorcise.