Schalke sign Sarpei and eye Van der Vaart

BERLIN - Schalke 04 signed Ghana defender Hans Sarpei from Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday and are eager to clinch a deal with Real Madrid for Dutch international midfielder Rafael van der Vaart.

Sarpei, who played a key role in Ghana's World Cup run to the quarter-finals last month, joins last season's runners-up Schalke on a two-year contract.

Coach Felix Magath said Sarpei, 34, who has also played for VfL Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, would add experience to his backline after the departure of Brazilian Rafinha.

"After Rafinha left (for Italy's Genoa) we were looking for a player who can play both left and right in the defence," he said.

The coach added Schalke, who are playing in the Champions League this season, were also eager to acquire Van der Vaart but had yet to agree terms with Real.

Last month Schalke swooped to sign former Spain striker Raul from Real.

"Raul has a lot of respect for him (Van der Vaart) and he would fit in here nicely," said Magath. "But as it stands at the moment we cannot and will not meet all the demands," the coach added without being specific.

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