Schalke have until the end of this month to activate a clause in Manchester City loanee Ko Itakura’s loan deal to make the move a permanent one.

That’s according to BILD, who say the German side can’t afford the £5m figure at this moment in time.

Itakure has been on loan with Schalke since the summer, joining their fight to return to the Bundesliga when it was made clear there was no place for him at Manchester City.

He’s established himself as key for his loan club since, playing a big role in their return to the top flight of German football.

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They’re keen to keep him at the club and have an option to make his loan a permanent move for £5m, or around €5.9m.

That’s a ‘proud sum’ that they currently cannot afford, though, and if they were to pay it someone would have to leave first.

Malick Thiaw is the obvious candidate and has interest from AC Milan, but Schalke are unlikely to be able to finalise a deal before May 31st when the clause for Itakura expires.

This means they would have to gamble on selling Thiaw further down the line if they were to sign the Manchester City man now, something that would ‘undermine the solid financial policy’ at the club.

They’re not willing to do so, as they believe clubs would take advantage and push down their prices, so Itakura looks likely to return to the Etihad.

Schalke could try to renegotiate the deal with Manchester City, but there’s no need for them to change, and the defender has ‘attractive alternative offers’ anyway.