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Bayern signs Germany midfielder Goretzka from rival Schalke

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich signed Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka on Friday on a free transfer from Bundesliga rival Schalke effective from next season.

Bayern said the 22-year-old Goretzka signed a four-year deal from July 1 through June 2022.

Schalke, which Goretzka joined in 2013 from hometown club Bochum, said the player informed the club this week of his wish to join Bayern when his contract expired.

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“We think we did everything in the last months to convince Leon to stay with us,” Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel said. “In the end, it wasn’t enough.”

Schalke had long been engaged in trying to get Goretzka to extend his contract, but was aware of reported interest from Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool.

“We’re very happy that Leon Goretzka, a German international with big potential, has decided in favor of Bayern despite big-name international competitors. This way it’s ensured that Leon Goretzka remains in the Bundesliga,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

Goretzka scored 19 goals and set up 13 more in 130 appearances for Schalke.

The club had previously expressed its displeasure with Bayern making public statements about its player after Goretzka was praised by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and coach Jupp Heynckes.

Heidel said “we don’t need to hear every day from the Munich people how good our player is.”

Goretzka has six goals in 12 games for Germany.

Bayern expects Goretzka decision “in a few days”

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Schalke star Leon Goretzka has said he’ll decide on his future this month, and Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge expects to know what the 22-year-old will do within the next few days.

Rummenigge says Goretzka is a person of interest for Bayern but admitted that there’s no contract in place between the club and player.

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“Now it is up to the player to decide, and it would be nice if he chose Bayern in the end. You only have an agreement when you sign the contract,” he said, according to The Liverpool Echo.

“All top clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United or Juventus wanted him, so it is perfectly legal and normal that the top club from Germany is interested in this player, too. The decision will be taken in a few days.”

Reports late last month had a Goretzka to Bayern move all but complete, and Schalke was displeased earlier this month at its Bundesliga rivals’ open praise for the player.

Goretzka posted four goals in 11 appearances during an injury-hit first half of the season, and has not played 90 minutes since Oct. 20. He won a silver medal with Germany at the 2016 Olympics and the Confederations Cup this past summer.

He’s been linked with Liverpool, too, and the Reds do have a new opening for an attacker. Could the Reds convince Schalke to take a fee for their soon-to-be free young star?

Schalke signs Hoffenheim striker Mark Uth for next season

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GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) Schalke has signed striker Mark Uth for next season on a free transfer from Bundesliga rival Hoffenheim.

The Gelsenkirchen-based club says the 26-year-old Uth, whose contract at Hoffenheim expires at the end of the season, is getting a four-year deal through June 2022.

Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel says, “Uth is the most dangerous German forward in the Bundesliga at the moment and will improve our options in attack drastically from the summer. We’re delighted we could win him for Schalke.”

Uth says the move is the “right step” for him after three seasons at Hoffenheim. He has 28 goals in 72 competitive games for his current club, with nine league goals so far this season.

The Cologne-born forward joined Hoffenheim in 2015 from Dutch side Heerenveen, which he joined in 2012 after failing to break into Cologne’s first team.

Bayern riles Schalke by praising Germany midfielder Goretzka

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GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel has criticized league rival Bayern Munich for making public comments in praise of Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka.

Heidel is annoyed with Bayern counterpart Hasan Salihamidzic in particular for saying on Wednesday that “it’s clear that Leon Goretzka is a really good player. He is a Schalke player and of course we respect that. He is a German national team player, and we can also say that we are interested.”

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Goretzka’s contract at Schalke is up at the end of the season, when Bayern would be able to sign him without a transfer fee. He is reportedly yet to decide whether to stay or leave the club he joined in 2013 from Bochum.

Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes had already praised the 22-year-old Goretzka in the previous days for his “brilliant development.”

Heidel says Salihamidzic’s comments were “unnecessary” and “we don’t need to hear every day from the Munich people how good our player is.”

Heidel says Goretzka should take his time in making a decision but “the issue will need to be settled soon.”

Report: Leon Goretzka to join Bayern on free transfer

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Leon Goretzka looks set to join Bayern Munich.

A report from Sport Bild in Germany, including info from Spanish outlet Marca, says that Goretzka will arrive at the Allianz Arena on July 1 when his contract at Schalke expires.

It is believed the deal will be announced in January with Bayern and the player striking a deal, with Goretzka, 22, playing for second-place Schalke for the rest of the 2017-18 season.

Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Barcelona and Real Madrid were all said to be in for the German international midfielder but it appears he has chosen Bayern as information from Marca claims that Barcelona were told the industrious midfielder had agreed to join Barcelona.

Goretzka burst onto the scenes last summer in the Confederations Cup as he was the star  of a young German side who won the competition. He’s taken that form into the 2017-18 season and has Schalke in second in the Bundesliga with his creativity in central midfield, coupled with his elegance on the ball, impressing.

Many compare Goretzka to German legend Michael Ballack.

His future at Schalke has been the subject of constant speculation, with Liverpool heavily linked with a move for him on a free transfer in the summer, but the reigning German champions have, once again, pounced to sign a star player from a rival club.

See: Gotze, Mario. Lewandowski, Robert. Hummels, Mats.

Goretzka’s arrival probably sparks the end for Arturo Vidal at Bayern and it will be intriguing to see if the Chilean midfielder moves on in January or next summer.