Leon Goretzka: Why Manchester United hold interest in Schalke star
Last Updated: 02/12/17 12:45pm
Manchester United are interested in signing Leon Goretzka - but who is the Schalke midfielder?
The 22-year-old is out of contract next summer and would be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs from January 1.
With a number of European clubs seemingly tracking his progress, we profile the Germany international...
Leon Goretzka - Factfile
- Age: 22
- Position: Midfielder
- Club: Schalke
- Nationality: German
- International caps: 12
- International goals: 6
Born in Bochum, Germany, Goretzka started his youth career with Werner SV 06 Bochum in 1999. He spent two years at the club before moving to VfL Bochum.
The midfielder first caught the eye with a number of impressive displays for Bochum's U17 and U19 sides. He scored an impressive six goals in seven games for the U17s before being promoted to the U19s where he continued to excel, netting 11 goals in 15 appearances from a deeper midfield role.
His performances for Bochum soon saw him earn international honours and he was also awarded the Gold U17 Fritz Walter Medal in 2012.
In August of the same year, he made his professional debut at 17 for Bochum on the opening day of the 2.Bundesliga season. He started for his boyhood club at home against Dynamo Dresden, scoring a debut goal as his side ran out 2-1 winners.
Goretzka joined Schalke in the summer of 2013 on a five-year deal for a reported fee of €4m, with the club's general manager Horst Heldt claiming: "He was on the wanted list of lots of clubs".
In his first season at the club, Goretzka made 29 appearances in all competitions, scoring four goals, but he wasn't a regular starter in his second year at the Veltins-Arena making just 11 appearances.
During the 2015/16 season, he scored two goals in 34 appearances and last season he had his most productive campaign, making 41 appearances for the Bundesliga side. He scored eight goals and provided six assists in all competitions, helping Schalke to a 10th-place finish in the Bundesliga and the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
This season he is Schalke's second-highest scorer with four goals as they have made a positive start to their Bundesliga campaign.
Goretzka has featured regularly through the age groups for Germany, starting at U16 level all the way through to the senior side.
He captained the Germany U17 team at the 2012 UEFA U17 Football Championship in Slovenia and led them to the final against the Netherlands, which they lost on penalties.
In 2014, Joachim Low called him up to Germany's 30-man preliminary squad for the World Cup. His debut followed in the 0-0 draw with Poland but an injury curtailed his involvement and he was removed from the team's training camp ahead of the World Cup in Brazil.
A further two appearances followed in 2016 and he was named in the squad for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. He captained Germany in their first match of the tournament against Mexico, but sustained a shoulder injury which ended his campaign.
He was named in Germany's squad for the Confederations Cup in Russia in the summer. Goretzka played the full 90 minutes in his side's opening match, scoring his first goal for his country as they secured a 3-2 victory over Australia. Goretzka then netted twice against Mexico and started in the final as Germany beat Chile.
After the Confederations Cup, he has continued to feature for Germany and has scored six goals in his first 12 appearances for the senior side.
He has delivered. He has played very well in both matches. Given his youth he is already quite a personality in this team and it seems to be clear that he is carefully planning the next steps in his career.
What they said?
Former Bochum manager Peter Neururer, who coached Goretzka at his boyhood club, has described the midfielder as a "once-in-a-century talent".
There is no one comparable in Germany who is endowed with these qualities.
Another former Bochum boss, Karsten Neitzel, also hailed his former charge, claiming he will eventually join one of the world's top teams.
I have never seen an 18-year-old with so much class and desire. The boy will find his way into the world’s best [team].
Former Bochum boss Karsten Neitzel
Germany team-mate and Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has described him as "outstanding".
"Leon is a fantastic player. I like him as a footballer and as a man. He has outstanding footballing qualities. I have to say that he could play for one of the top European clubs.
"What I have seen of him in the national team is extraordinary and remarkable. I also think he will get better in the future."
What I have seen of him in the national team is extraordinary and remarkable. I also think he will get better in the future.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen
Speaking at the end of 2016, Low said of Goretzka: "He's one of the most talented players of his age category. He's got very good technique and has a lot of pace, both with and without the ball. He's also got character and comes across as someone very mature for his age."
Style of play
At 6ft 2in, Goretzka is a strong presence in the centre of midfield. His style has been likened to that of Sami Khedira because of his ability to protect the defence and break up play.
He is also excellent on the ball and his good range of passing helps link up play between defence and attack.
Despite mostly playing in a deep-lying midfield role, he has an eye for goal and is well known for driving forward from midfield and bursting into the final third.
He has become more of an attacking threat over the last 18 months, scoring a career-high five goals last season, which he is well on the way to beating as he has added another four already this season.
It was reported in the summer that Arsenal were set to make a £21m offer, while Bayern Munich, Tottenham and Juventus were also linked with a move. Manchester United are now interested while Barcelona have also been mentioned.
Will he move?
Goretzka is under contract with Schalke until June 2018 and rejected a new deal at the Veltins-Arena.
Schalke find themselves in the same position as last season with one of their star players, having lost Sead Kolasinac to Arsenal on a free transfer over the summer. It has been reported that the Bundesliga side have offered him a club-record deal to stay.
Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi thinks he would be a good fit at the Camp Nou.
"I've seen him play and I think he's a good player. Without doubt, he could play for any team the world. He would fit in well [at Barca]," he said in November. "Goretzka is a young player. Germany always have good footballers and he's one of them."
Would Goretzka be a good fit at Manchester United? Have your say in the comments section below.
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