Liverpool are reportedly ready to give up in their chase for Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka, as the Reds believe he's set to join Bayern Munich.
According to James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo, there has been contact between the Merseyside club and the player's camp.
"However, the Reds have been given little encouragement and barring a late change of heart they expect Goretzka to join Bayern Munich," it's added. "Goretzka, who has also been linked with Manchester United, is expected to confirm his choice of club over the coming days."
Goretzka's contract at Schalke is set to expire at the end of the season, meaning he would be free to discuss a deal with the Reds with a view to a free transfer in the summer.
While a number of sides have been linked with the 22-year-old, it appears Bayern are likely to get their man.
Liam Canning praised the German champions for their work in the window:
Liam Canning @LiamPaulCanning
Bayern Munich are like no other in hoovering up talent in Germany. Leon Goretzka is a fantastic player, it's a shame we won't see him in the Premier League.2018-1-17 11:03:30
As relayed by Pearce, Bayern executive board chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has said there is interest in Goretzka on their part.
"You only have an agreement when the contract is signed and the player passed the medical tests," he said. "We are not that far yet. Now the player has to decide, I heard the decision will be made within the next days so before the end of January."
Rummenigge added that it would be "very nice" if he was to opt to sign for Bayern. However, as noted by ESPN's Mark Lovell, the deal is some way from completion yet:
Mark Lovell @LovellLowdown
Leon Goretzka. If move hinges on a successful medical, best to wait till injured player is fit. That is all.2018-1-17 10:57:58
Signing Goretzka would be a coup even for a club as big as Munich, as he is one of the most exciting talents in European football.
The Schalke man can do a little bit of everything. He's a major presence in midfield in terms of his physicality, and he constantly looks to get involved in the action; the 22-year-old contests every ball and is strong in the tackle.
Crucially, he makes his presence felt further forward as well. Goretzka carries the ball with intent in midfield and is composed enough to make smart decisions when opportunities do open up. Given the way Liverpool operate, he would've been a fine signing.
Journalist Ben D'Arcy isn't too enthused by the prospect of him joining Bayern, as it'll potentially dilute the competitiveness of the division:
Ben D'Arcy @ben_darcy
Goretzka outcome is very disappointing. People will say it’s good to keep him in the Bundesliga, but it’s really not good for the league to keep stockpiling all the best players at one dominant club.2018-1-17 12:28:54
From Goretzka's perspective, the chance to join Bayern must be appealing, as they have long dominated the Bundesliga and are consistently fighting it out for the UEFA Champions League. Alongside Joshua Kimmich, Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller, he'll be a key part of a German core.
Liverpool will be disappointed to miss out on a wonderful talent available for free. However, with their midfield looking in excellent order at the moment and Naby Keita set to arrive in the summer, supporters won't be too disappointed.