|ESPNsoccernet: UEFA Champions League|
In the wake of his impressive performance in Schalke's 2-0 defeat to Manchester United on Tuesday night, Manuel Neuer says that moving to Old Trafford was "never an option" for him.
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Only an excellent display from the Schalke goalkeeper kept the scoreline respectable in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final as Neuer underlined just why he is rated as one of Europe's best in his position.
The Germany international has already announced that he will leave Schalke at the end of the season with reports suggesting that a move to Bayern Munich has been agreed.
Bayern president Uli Hoeness confirmed on Wednesday that the club would soon start negotiations for Neuer, whose contract runs out next year, but insisted they would not pay through the nose.
"We have up till now not had any negotiations,'' Hoeness told TZ. "That will now be addressed. We want Manuel, and where there's a will there's a way. But Schalke cannot now demand an astronomical price.''
Sir Alex Ferguson, who said Neuer's performance was one of the best he had witnessed against United in 21 years at the club, has also expressed his belief that the goalkeeper is poised to move to the Allianz Arena.
While it is believed United were also interested in Neuer, the player himself says a move to the Premier League was never a realistic possibility.
"Manchester United was never an option for me. I will focus now on my performances and my team, all the other things don't matter at the moment," Neuer told Sky Germany.
In an interview with Schalke's official website, Neuer also reacted to Ferguson's praise. He said: "Of course it's nice to hear things like that. But we have lost 2-0 and that irritates me very much."
Regarding Schalke's performance, Neuer regretted his side's failure to replicate their remarkable win over reigning champions Inter in the quarter-finals.
"We played with too much respect in the beginning," Neuer said. "We knew of course that Manchester [United] are a big team but Inter were too. Today we wasn't as strong as the quarter-final. We weren't compact enough.
"The fans know we've done a big thing in reaching the semis. But this doesn't count in such a match, you want to win there. Maybe it would have been better to have an away match first."
Schalke forward Raul, scorer of a record 71 Champions League goals, has not entirely abandoned hope ahead of the second leg.
"In the return leg, everything is possible. We do not know what will happen, a penalty to us, a sending off for them. Nothing is impossible in football," Raul said.
"We expected a different result, another outcome to the game but we are still happy because we played to our level. The problem was that Manchester [United] played at another level.
"The only regrets we have are that we did not create enough scoring chances and that we conceded two goals in two minutes. Reaching the semi-finals for this club has given the supporters a great sense of pride. We tried everything, the fans realise this, and we were warmly applauded after the game."