Schalke 04 midfielder Leon Goretzka has reportedly decided he wants to join Barcelona next summer.
According to SportBild (h/t Jacob Murtagh of the Daily Mirror), the Germany international wants to make the switch to the Camp Nou despite a clutch of clubs showing interest in him. As noted by Murtagh, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Juventus and Bayern Munich are also said to be keen.
Whichever club Goretzka ends up playing for will have themselves a bargain. His contract is up at the end of the campaign, meaning either a cut-price January move or a free transfer at the end of 2017-18 is on the cards.
During his time with Schalke the 22-year-old has earned a reputation as one of the most exciting midfielders in the league. As we can see courtesy of Squawka Football, he's also making a massive impression on the international stage:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Leon Goretzka has now been directly involved in 7 goals for Germany in 12 games. 5 goals ⚽️ 2 assists 🅰️ An absurd backheel. 😳 https://t.co/0ltk5pXX122017-10-8 18:57:04
To lose Goretzka for nothing will be disappointing for Schalke, as they've spent time in helping him push on as a player.
This season he's started most matches in an orthodox midfield position and has dominated a lot of contests for Domenico Tedesco's team.
Goretzka is physical enough to win battles in the Bundesliga, although when he does get on the ball he can make things happen. The former Bochum man can split a game open with his surges forward, fires off pinpoint shots from distance and links play neatly with his sharp passing.
There are areas of his game that can be improved. As noted by WhoScored.com here, at times Goretzka is prone to losing his defensive discipline:
Leon Goretzka: No player has been dribbled past more times than Goretzka (15) in the Bundesliga this season https://t.co/CVzVhXo1Ay2017-10-23 14:30:02
If he was to join Barcelona that wouldn't be too much of an issue, as the Blaugrana boss the ball in the majority of matches they play. Goretzka would also give the team a different dimension in midfield, as he's happy to burst forward into advanced positions instead of playing lateral passes.
There would be competition aplenty at the Camp Nou if he was to move there. Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic remain the preferred options in the advanced midfield roles, while Paulinho has shone when given a chance so far, too. Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez are also battling for more minutes.
Earlier this month, football journalist Raphael Honigstein said Goretzka was considering his options:
Raphael Honigstein @honigstein
Re Goretzka: Bierhoff told me he was talking about a *hypothetical* move to England and that he believes player doesn’t know himself yet where he’ll be next season.2017-11-9 13:14:07
However, with no official confirmation, rumours have continued to swirl. And if Barcelona do pip their UEFA Champions League rivals to one of Europe's hottest prospects, it'll be deemed a major coup.
For Goretzka, the next step in his career is a crucial one, as there'll be expectation thrust upon him at a more illustrious club. So far, the signs are that he can deal with those pressures and be a massive hit at whichever team he ends up joining.