Leon Goretzka's move to Bayern Munich upsets Schalke fans

Updated: Jan 25, 2018, 09:54 IST | IANS

Young midfielder Leon Goretzka's decision to join Bayern Munich next summer is causing tension between his current football club Schalke 04 and the German national team

Leon Goretzka
Leon Goretzka

Young midfielder Leon Goretzka's decision to join Bayern Munich next summer is causing tension between his current football club Schalke 04 and the German national team.

While the 22-year-old German international signed a four-year contract with the Bavarians last week, a Schalke official said the club is considering sidelining him for the rest of the season in case his plans affect the team's progress due to fan protests, reports Xinhua news agency.

"My first reaction was he should never again wear our shirt. And if the fans reaction has any impact on the team, he could well find himself sitting on the tribune for the rest of the season," 61-year-old head of board Clemens Toennies said in a TV interview.

As Goretzka is a key performer of the German 2018 World Cup squad, the national team's director Oliver Bierhoff has urged Schalke to play a fair game. "Everyone knowing about Leon's good character is convinced he will invest all he has for Schalke for the rest of his contract," the 49-year-old commented.

Bierhoff is aware of the particular emotions surrounding the club, but said Toennies has to consider the consequences of his statements. Every club has a responsibility for its employees, he stressed.

"Leon is a professional with a great heart and Schalke should not just drop him. He was always honest with Schalke, and he is not to blame for doing the next step in his career," Bierhoff said.

Fans had booed Goretzka off the pitch when Schalke ended up with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Hannover 96 in their home game last Sunday, as the club loses ground in their attempt to qualify for the 2018/2019 Champions League. One banner read: "Neither money nor titles are of more value as it is our club. Someone who can't appreciate that should get lost right away!"

Schalke's fans accuse Goretzka of betraying the club's values by joining rival Bayern.

Like Bierhoff, German national coach Joachim Loew is concerned Goretzka's preparation for the World Cup could be negatively affected. Loew said Goretzka is already an inspiring personality despite his young age. The Bochum-born midfielder played over 100 league games for Schalke.

Bierhoff said he was happy about Goretzka being part of Schalke's starting eleven against Hannover. Not to sideline him, Bierhoff emphasized, was a clear message from Schalke's coach Domenico Tedesco proving Goretzka's value for the current club.

"We should be happy to keep him in the Bundesliga as he could have easily joined a Spanish or English side. I am sure he could have earned much more in a foreign league," Bierhoff commented.

According to rumours, clubs like FC Barcelona, Juventus Turin, Manchester United and FC Liverpool were highly interested in Goretzka and had made offers.

After Manuel Neuer (2011), Thomas Linke (1998) and Olaf Thon (1988), Goretzka is the fourth prominent player to leave Schalke for rivals Bayern Munich.

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