According to separate reports by the Spanish and German papers Marca and Sport Bild, Leon Goretzka will join Bayern Munich on a free transfer in summer 2018 when his current contract with Schalke expires.
The 22-year-old star midfielder has been repeatedly linked with Bayern since last summer, with endless speculation about Goretzka’s intentions. Despite Goretzka’s protestations to the contrary, Raphael Honigstein pronounced the deal as “done” this past July. Honigstein would appear to be vindicated now:
+++ Breaking news of @sportbild +++ Leon Goretzka will sign a contract in Munich in the new year +++ From july he will be a player of @fcbayern +++ a deal without a transfer fee +++ @altobelli13 @TorstenRumpf— Christian Falk (@cfbayern) December 31, 2017
The move is undoubtedly a heavy blow for Schalke, who did everything in their power to entice Goretzka to stay as the centerpiece of the reinvigorated team that has risen to second place on the Bundesliga table.
Goretzka brings Bayern precocious young talent as a center midfielder. He has scored four goals for Schalke this season (second to striker Guido Burgstaller) and has consistently been among the Royal Blues’ best players.
Where Goretzka fits in Bayern’s stacked midfield - alongside Thiago Alcantara, Arturo Vidal, Javi Martinez, Corentin Tolisso, and Sebastian Rudy - is another question. One possibility is that Goretzka may replace Vidal. Vidal, now 30 years old, is under contract until 2019, so a profitable transfer in the next summer window would not be a shocking move.
The news remains unofficial, but Goretzka’s transfer to Bayern now seems merely a matter of time.