Spanish veteran Raul issued Schalke 04 with a timely reminder of his considerable talent on Saturday, with a hat-trick in the 5-0 rout of Werder Bremen to boost his hopes of a new deal with the club.
The 34-year-old is out of contract in June and Schalke are set to discuss his future in the Bundesliga’s winter break, which started yesterday.
The Royal Blues have already said they are interested in signing Cologne’s Germany striker Lukas Podolski as a possible replacement, but Raul was sublime as Schalke dismantled Bremen’s defense in spectacular style.
The result leaves Schalke third in the table and level with defending champions Dortmund on 34 points, while both teams are three points behind leaders Bayern Munich.
“I want to continue playing here, but we will see next month,” Raul said.
Schalke got off to a flying start at the Veltins Arena, with Raul scoring twice in four minutes to leave the hosts 2-0 up after just 20 minutes.
The Spaniard finished his hat-trick on 63 minutes with a -bullet-header after defender Christian Fuchs swung in a pin-point accurate long-range pass.
With Bremen’s defense in tatters, Greek defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar added the last two goals to complete the hammering.
Earlier, Japan’s Shinji Kagawa played a starring role as Dortmund trimmed Bayern’s lead to three points with a 4-1 win at Freiburg.
Ten-man Bayern had opened up a six-point gap with a 3-0 rout of Cologne in Munich, Germany, on Friday. However, second-placed Dortmund enjoyed a comfortable win at Freiburg to stay in touch.
“It was an intense game with a fast pace and it was the most balanced display we have put in all season,” Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp said. “It was important to get into the lead, in the second-half we exploited the space we found perfectly.”
Goals by Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who netted twice, plus Germany midfielders Ilkay Guendogan and Kevin Grosskreutz gave Dortmund a precious victory on the last weekend of the Bundesliga this year.
A day after drawing defending champions Barcelona in the Champions League last 16, Bayer Leverkusen crashed to a 3-0 defeat at home to Nuremberg.
Just eight minutes after coming off the bench, Wolfsburg’s 20-year-old striker Sebastian Polter netted his first Bundesliga goal on only his second appearance to seal a 1-0 win over Stuttgart.
It was only Wolves’ fourth win in their last 10 league games.
Hoffenheim were held to a 1-1 draw against Hertha Berlin with both sides finishing, with 10 men as the guests equalized in added time.
Hamburg remain unbeaten under new coach Thorsten Fink after they came from behind to draw 1-1 with Augsburg.