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Why Arsenal, Real Madrid and Man Utd are fighting for Leon Goretzka

He's not known for spectacular goals, he doesn't go past players with a string of stepovers and his team are battling relegation - from the German Second Division.

Yet, should Leon Goretzka declare this summer that he's ready to leave hometown VfL Bochum, he will have the pick of Europe's biggest clubs.

Goretzka has already denied fielding a call from Bayern Munich football chief Mattias Sammer, Hannover have failed with a bid and Borussia Dortmund are promising him first-choice status in their exciting midfield.

But the interest is not just local, Real Madrid have been in contact with Bochum about the 18 year-old, Arsenal chief scout Steve Rowley has been a regular visitor for the past 12 months and local media sources insist Manchester United are also actively sounding out their German contacts for a lowdown on Goretzka.

Former Germany international Darius Wosz is youth coach at Bochum and not surprised about the hype around Goretzka.

"He is an exceptional player," says Wosz. "I've not seen anyone like him at youth level.

"He has a clear head, he's mature. Nothing can distract him."

Standing at 1.89m, Goretzka is regarded as Germany's brightest midfield prospect, drawing comparisons with former Chelsea star Michael Ballack and Real Madrid's Sami Khedira. The DFB have already recognised his talent, awarding Goretzka with the Fritz Walter medal as the nation's outstanding 17 year-old. Past winners include Mario Goetze, the highly-rated Borussia Dortmund star, and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

A sure sign of the maturity Wosz mentions is Goretzka being happy for his parents to handle his off-field careers. Stories of Goretzka rejecting faceless agents, promising him riches beyond his wildest dreams, in the Bochum carpark are now regular talking points in the local backpages.

"All the decisions I've made so far with my family, were correct. So I see no reason to change anything," insisted the 18 year-old.

"The plan is that I stay at least until 2014 in Bochum, staying here at the school, successfully completing my studies.

"I play football because it's fun. I don't play to make lots of money.

"My whole family is down to earth and helps me to stay grounded. I try hard to stay the same person. So far, no one has said that I've changed."

Goretzka cites Bayern Munich star Toni Kroos as his hero, along with his father, Konrad.

"I've never seen my father make a decision in which he placed his own interests above those of others," says Goretzka.

Former Germany international Jens Todt is manager at Bochum and well aware of the transfer speculation.

"The Real offer? Maybe it's an early April Fool's joke," he said. "There's always speculation in Spain."

Giving interested clubs hope, however, is Bochum's precarious position in the 2. Bundesliga and the recent dismissal of coach Andreas Bergmann, who was close to Goretzka.

Indeed, immediately after Bergmann's dismissal, Goretzka's left the door ajar to a summer move away.

"I owe the club a lot but then again if I should be sold, VfL can financially benefit from it."

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

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