One of German football’s hottest young talents is being linked in the Daily Mail with a move to Arsenal next summer.
Leon Goretzka is only 22 but seems to already have outgrown Schalke, the club who took a chance by signing him from VfL Bochum as an 18-year-old back in 2013.
The midfielder has been a mainstay of the side pretty much ever since, barring a spell with the reserve team during the managerial tenure of Roberto Di Matteo.
Interest in his services is said to be high, but whilst the likes of Juventus and Manchester City are also sniffing around, Arsenal are thought to be in a strong position.
Goretzka is out of contract at Schalke at the end of June but can negotiate with other clubs from January onwards.
The potential arrival of the youngster could see the Gunners end their long-speculated interest in his Germany team-mate Julian Draxler.
The Paris Saint-Germain star seems to be constantly linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium but nothing has materialised over the years and after his struggles to fully break into the Ligue 1 outfit’s starting XI, perhaps Goretzka is now a better bet.
With five goals and five assists in the Bundesliga last term, the Bochum-born man established himself as one of his country’s top creative talents from the centre of the park.
In the current campaign, he has made nine league appearances, scoring four goals as his side sit second in the table, behind only reigning champions Bayern Munich.
As for Draxler, he has two goals and two assists in the French top flight, although that is arguably the less competitive of the two divisions.
Nonetheless, it is not a tally to be dismissed considering he is behind the established trio of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe in the pecking order at the Parc des Princes.
However, it is in the national team colours that Goretzka has shone brightest over the past 12 months.
In nine appearances across 2017, the central midfielder has contributed six goals, the same total that Draxler has achieved in his 40 international caps.
Even to be picked for the Germany team is a huge achievement given the array of talent at boss Joachim Low’s disposal, and Goretzka will be delighted to have repaid his manager’s faith.
Playing in such a well-renowned side is only likely to improve his game and at Arsenal he would join a German contingent that includes Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi and Per Mertesacker.
The fact that he is available on a free transfer also gives him an edge over Draxler; the 24-year-old joined PSG for €40 million in January and the club’s hierarchy would likely want more than that to part with their asset.
Having splashed over €200 million on Neymar this summer and with a commitment in place for a similarly extravagant outlay on Kylian Mbappe at the end of the season, they must look to recoup funds to comply with UEFA’s financial fair play regulations.
With Draxler failing to establish himself in the French capital, the club may see him as expendable but that is not expected to drive his price tag down.
Put simply, Goretzka is cheaper, younger and is quickly establishing himself as one of the Bundesliga’s most-consistent performers.
Whilst a number of Europe’s elite sides may be in for him, at Arsenal he would surely be guaranteed more regular game time and could become the axis of the Gunners’ midfield.
This is a major opportunity to sign a top young talent for minimal cost and Arsene Wenger should not pass it up.