Barcelona have been offered the chance to sign Leon Goretzka as Schalke look to avoid losing the German international to domestic rivals Bayern Munich on a free transfer next summer, according to reports from Spain.
Mundo Deportivo understands that Goretzka's agents recently travelled to Catalonia with the permission of Schalke and offered their client to Barcelona, who dispatched technical secretary Robert Fernandez and assistant Urbano Ortega to Gelsenkirchen over the weekend in order to run the rule over the 22-year-old and Guinea's Naby Keita during the Bundesliga opener against RB Leipzig.
However, the La Liga giants have already bolstered their midfield options with the €40m (£36.8m, $47.1m) addition of Paulinho from Guangzhou Evergrande and are said to be now focused exclusively on attempting to complete high-profile pursuits of Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele before next week's transfer deadline.
A potential deal for Nice's Jean Michael Seri now appears to be dead in the water, while a return to La Liga for former Real Madrid and Manchester United winger Angel Di Maria also looks increasingly unlikely.
Goretzka joined Schalke from VFL Bochum in 2013 and has since established a reputation as one of Europe's most promising young box-to-box midfielders. Last season, he bounced back from Olympic disappointment to score eight goals and provide six assists in 41 appearances across all competitions for Die Konigsblauen before helping Germany to Confederations Cup success in Russia.
Goretzka's current contract at Veltins-Arena expires in June 2018 and Schalke risk seeing him depart for nothing next year as he potentially prepares to see out the remaining 10 months. July reports that he had already agreed to sign for Bayern were swiftly rejected by both the player and Schalke director Christian Heidel.
"Honestly, it is really getting on my nerves," an exasperated Goretzka told Sky Deutschland last month. "I can see why it interests people but I can only repeat once again, there's nothing new to report with Bayern Munich. I have clearly denied there is an agreement in place – with any club. I can promise you this is the case."
Heidel said: "People told me that Leon has long agreed to join Bayern and the next day another guy tells me he's dead certain Leon has accepted our offer to renew the contract."
There has also been plenty of Premier League interest in Goretzka, with Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City all rumoured to be monitoring his situation. If he did complete a move to Barcelona, he would become their fifth summer signing after Marlon Santos, Gerard Deulofeu, Nelson Semedo and the aforementioned Paulinho.