Bayern Munich have been linked with two young German midfielders set to become free agents in the near future, as both Schalke 04’s Leon Goretzka and Liverpool’s Emre Can are being reported as targets.
The links to the former aren’t new, and Calciomercato.com (via TalkSport) say Liverpool, Juventus and Inter Milan are ready to battle it out for the budding star.
Plenty of reports have surfaced stating Goretzka has already agreed to join the Bavarians when his contract expires, but the 22-year-old has so far denied the speculation. Per Sky Deutschland (h/t ESPN FC’s Mark Lovell), he also said the constant stream of rumours is starting to “get on his nerves.”
The reported agreement would explain why there was so little buzz surrounding a possible exit this summer, something ESPN FC’s Janusz Michallik thought was odd:
Janusz Michallik @JanuszMichallik
Goretzka still at Schalke. Hardly even mentioned in rumors. £21m value (TM). I’d pay twice that, at least.
Goretzka has established himself as a key cog for Schalke―explaining why they would rather keep him for one more season, rather than cash in this summer―and a contributor for the national team. He stood out during the 2017 Confederations Cup and has impressed during 2018 World Cup qualifiers as well.
He brings an element of physicality to the midfield area that Germany have sometimes lacked these last few years, as evidenced by this statistic from WhoScored.com:
Leon Goretzka: Has won possession in the midfield 3rd more times (226) than any other Bundesliga player since August 2015 https://t.co/CfM3zTWrYe
He’s more than just a bruiser, however, as he’s also a capable passer and someone who can contribute in front of goal―evidenced by Monday’s headed effort against Norway.
Meanwhile, Turin-based newspaper Tuttosport (h/t Daily Star‘s James Walters) have added Bayern to the list of clubs linked with Can, joining Juventus, Chelsea and Manchester United. The Bianconeri have been talked about as a possible suitor for the youngster throughout summer.
The 23-year-old has yet to sign a new contract after a solid 2016-17 campaign, and with Naby Keita slated to join the Reds next summer, his future has become somewhat muddy.
ANTHONY DEVLIN/Getty Images
Juventus are the kings of the free transfer, but Bayern have also used the option to great effect over the years.
Most fans and pundits expect Goretzka to leave his club after this season, but Can is deemed as more likely to stick around. How the contract negotations play out will be key―if the Reds are happy to offer the former Bayern starlet what he wants, there’s no reason for him not to sign a new deal.
He wouldn’t be the first German player to return to Bavaria after gaining experience and growing elsewhere, though, and the allure of his former club could be too much to pass up.