As Schalke seasons come and go, so do players, as the club have parted ways with dozens of players over the past decade. Some, like Manuel Neuer, Julian Draxler, Leroy Sane and Mesut Özil, have moved onto ‘bigger’ clubs, others have made lateral moves in search of a better fit and some have moved onto smaller clubs or leagues as they begin the back-end of their footballing careers. Every few months, we’ll do a, ‘where are they now,’ segment, highlighting and looking into former various Schalke players and where the game has taken them since their Gelsenkirchen days.
Schalke Career: 2012-2015
Schalke Appearances (Goals): 59 (3)
Departed to: Philadelphia Union (USA)
Current Club: St. Gallen (Switzerland)
The long-time Swiss international Tranquillo Barnetta didn’t quite live up to expectations at Schalke. He joined the Royal Blues after a largely successful seven-year career at Bayer Leverkusen where he numbered 23 goals and regularly started at midfield for Die Werkself from 2004-2011.
Schalke acquired Barnetta on a free transfer in 2012, although his projected worth at the time was €5.5M, according to transfermarkt. Unfortunately, injuries and the rise of more promising youngsters in the central midfield pushed Barnetta out of the equation at times. The now 32-year-old managed only three goals in his three seasons with the club, the second of which he spent at Eintracht Frankfurt on loan, although he did rack up a very respectable five assists in 22 Bundesliga appearances for Schalke in 2014/15.
Barnetta was sent to Philadelphia in 2015 on a free transfer, where he tallied three goals in 31 appearances for the Union of the MLS. After his somewhat underwhelming stint in the U.S., Barnetta came back to Europe to join his boyhood club of St. Gallen of the Swiss Super League on 1 January, 2017. He appeared in 16 matches in the second half of the Swiss League campaign for St. Gallen, scoring one goal with four assists as his squad managed a seventh-place domestic finish.
As his contract runs through the summer of 2019, look for Barnetta to finish out his career with St. Gallen, where he made his playing days from 1996-2004 in their youth system and first team.
Schalke Career: 2008-2015
Schalke Appearances (Goals): 228 (53)
Departed to: Al Jazira (UAE)
Current Club: Lokomotiv Moscow (Russia)
Jefferson Farfan is a bona fide Schalke legend, having played a crucial part in Schalke’s run to the 2011 Champions League semi-final and providing a dominant presence on the right wing for six consecutive seasons. He is the Schalke all-time leader in assists with 70 helpers in his 228 career matches for the Royal Blues.
Farfan racked up 37 Bundesliga goals and a staggering 48 assists in 170 league appearances – all without ever receiving a red card – in his Schalke stint. Originally bought from Peruvian power Alianza Lima for €8.5M in 2008, Farfan was then sold to Al-Jazira of the UAE for €5.95M in 2015 following a brutal knee injury he suffered in 2014 that held him out of most of the 2014/15 season.
More injuries held him out of his two seasons at Al-Jazira, where he scored three goals in just 12 total matches before being sold to Lokomotiv Moscow of Russia in January, 2017. Farfan managed to get somewhat healthy and appear in six Russian Premier Liga matches and two Russian Cup games this spring. He netted one goal in Premier Liga action.
The Peruvian will actually be playing Europa League football this year as Lokomotiv won the Russian Cup to earn an automatic bid to the Europa League group stage. If he can get back to full strength, he still may have a couple good years left in the tank at 32 years old.
Schalke Career: 2011-2013
Schalke Appearances (Goals): 47 (8)
Departed to: Celtic (Scotland)
Current Club: Brøndby (Denmark)
Although Teemu Pukki wasn’t ever a superstar for Schalke, he was a good, ‘bang for your buck’ type acquisition from Finnish side HJK in 2011. Bought for just €1.5M, Pukki managed a very respectable eight goals in 37 career Bundesliga showings during his two-year career in Germany.
Pukki wasn’t kept at Schalke for long, instead departing for Scottish standouts Celtic in 2013, where he scored seven career goals in 27 Premiership matches. Pukki was loaned to Brøndby IF of Denmark for much of the 2014/15 season, where he performed a bit better and eventually was sent to the club – one of Denmark’s best – on a permanent basis in 2015.
Since, Pukki has become one of the best strikers in a very underrated Danish Superliga. The Finnish forward was simply spectacular for Brøndby this past season, scoring 18 goals in only 27 regular season Superliga appearances (20 total goals including the championship round) – good for 2nd-most in the league. Pukki was vital in Brøndby finishing second in the league, thus earning a Europa League second qualifying round berth.
It’s good to see Pukki playing so well for a great, historic club like Brøndby with a large set of devoted fans. Farfan, fingers crossed, will hopefully remain healthy for Lokomotiv this season, where Schalke fans can get a glimpse of the former star in some Europa League action. On the other hand, Barnetta is clearly on the downswing of his career, but surely he’s happy to be back in Switzerland with St. Gallen where he’s comfortable.