Russia to give citizenship to German footballer?

Vitaly Mutko (Getty Images)
Vitaly Mutko (Getty Images)

Moscow - Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said Tuesday the country was contemplating granting citizenship to German midfielder Roman Neustadter to add depth to the national team.

"We are working on this and we will see later on," TASS news agency quoted Mutko as saying. "Don't think that this procedure is simple."

The 27-year-old midfielder with FC Schalke 04 -- who was born in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine -- has played two international friendlies for the German national squad.

Neustadter's appearances with the German squad do not compromise his eligibility to play for Russia given that he only played in friendly matches.

Neustadter -- who has Russian roots, according to Schalke's website -- said earlier this month that he had met with Russian football officials over the winter break.

"As it stands, the Russians are trying to sort out my citizenship," Neustadter said in an interview published on Schalke's website.

"If I had the chance to play at the European Championship and perhaps in a World Cup two years later, I'd like to grab it with both hands."

Russian national team coach Leonid Slutsky said Monday in an interview published in Sport Express newspaper that he had travelled to Germany to scout Neustadter, saying the midfielder had made a "positive impression" on him.

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