Schalke’s 4-3 win against reigning European champions Real Madrid may well only have happened two months ago, but it will now feel like a distant memory for the Bundesliga club.
Since that plucky performance in the Spanish capital, the Gelsenkirchen outfit’s form has been nothing short of dreadful, with next season being negatively impacted as a result.
When Roberto Di Matteo’s talented-yet-frustrating side were still in the Champions League in March, they looked like odds-on qualifiers for European football’s top tournament again for 2015-16.
However, only one victory in the eight resulting Bundesliga fixtures since beating Madrid has seen Schalke slip out of the top four and down to sixth – 13 points of fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen.
Should the side’s dire form continue in remaining clashes with Paderborn and Hamburg, the Gelsenkirchen outfit may well even miss out on the Europa League.
As such, with no Champions League revenue to count upon next season, Schalke will be quick to part company with troublesome duo Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sidney Sam this summer to bring in revenue.
The Gelsenkirchen outfit suspended the pair indefinitely earlier this week following an underwhelming 2-0 defeat to FC Köln, with the midfield duo seemingly having no future in the Ruhr Valley.
Although the exact reasoning behind the disciplinary act remains slightly unclear, effort levels by a number of members of the Schalke squad have been brought into question.
As such, both Boateng and Sam looked destined to leave Schalke and face uncertain futures.
An impressive showing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa convinced the Rossoneri to sign the versatile midfielder from Portsmouth, raising a few eyebrows in the process.
However, over three seasons at the San Siro, Boateng became something of a fans favourite and showed that he was more than good enough to play for the historic Italian giants.
A return to the Bundesliga in the summer of 2013 was seen as quite the coup by Schalke, but the 28-year-old has failed to take the Gelsenkirchen outfit to the next level.
Boateng’s determination and work-rate have been key elements to the successful spells in his career; at the 2010 World Cup, for a relegation-destined Portsmouth and for a transitional Milan.
Despite the African’s technical abilities, it has appeared this season that Boateng’s heart has not been in the Schalke cause and the inspirational qualities from the attacking midfielder’s past has not been evident.
Having not even scored a goal for Schalke this season, a new challenge to reignite the 28-year-old’s career is needed this summer.
Although there is plenty of traction gathering over a potential move to the MLS, Boateng could well be a canny addition for plenty of European clubs, especially given that he only has a year left on his current deal in Germany and would be available at a cut price.
Sam on the other hand has only been with his current employers for one season, but the decision to swap Leverkusen for Schalke last summer has not worked out for the Germany international.
The goalscoring wide midfielder put in star showings last season at the BayArena and as such had plenty of options concerning his future.
However, Sam has only started seven Bundesliga games in his inaugural campaign in Gelsenkirchen and was a fringe figure even before the club’s decision to suspend him.
There is no doubting the 27-year-old’s quality when on form; dynamic, speedy, direct and with an eye for goal, the right winger has lit up the German top flight in recent years.
With no apparent future at Schalke, Sam is likely to move to another Bundesliga team at the culmination of this season and will want regular football in 2015-16 to get back to his best.
For Schalke, the continued failure to properly break into German football’s elite is ongoing and changes in the playing squad are expected in the off-season, regardless of where they end up on the Bundesliga table.
Boateng and Sam need to get their focus back ahead of next term, which seems more likely to happen away from the Gelsenkirchen club.