Barcelona are said to be ready to pay a cut-price deal to sign Leon Goretzka from Schalke 04 during the January transfer window rather than waiting until the summer to get him on a free transfer.

Mundo Deportivo claims that the La Liga giants are determined to speed up his arrival in order to beat competition from Bayern Munich – and avoid more clubs joining the battle next summer.

The 22-year-old midfielder was already linked with a number of big European clubs this summer after being one of the revelations of the Confederations Cup, helping German to win the title and even scoring two goals in the semi-finals victory over Mexico.

Mundo Deportivo then revealed that Barcelona technical secretary Robert Fernandez and assistant Urbano Ortega travelled to watch him in action during Schalke's 2-0 win over RB Leipzig in their Bundesliga opener on 19 August.

It was said that Ernesto Valverde's side even considered making a late move to secure his services in the dying days of the summer transfer window.

Yet, the club finally decided to focus in the unsuccessful pursuits of Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool and Angel Di Maria from Paris Saint Germain.

Valverde's side thus only made five signings during the summer in the form of Paulinho, Nelson Semedo, Gerard Deulofeu, Ousmane Dembele and Marlon Santos – with the Brazilian centre-back later being sent on loan to Nice on a two season-long.

It looked like Goretzka's position was already well covered at Barcelona with the likes of Paulinho himself, Sergi Roberto or Ivan Rakitic.

However, earlier this week Sport Bild reported that the La Liga giants are still interested in the powerful midfielder and will battle with Bayern to secure his services as a free-agent once his current contract at Schalke expires at the end of the season.

Now Mundo Deportivo says that the Catalans are eventually decided to advance that move to the January transfer window to win the race.

Barcelona believe that signing a young German international like Goretzka is an opportunity too good too turn down and are even ready to pay around €10m or €15m (£13.2m, $18m) for his services to avoid losing him to another club in the summer.

Mundo Deportivo says that Schalke are also keen on completing such a deal in order to avoid losing him for nothing in the summer – and maybe to a domestic rival like Bayern.

The Spanish publications add that Barcelona have already contacted Goretzka's agent with the player also keen on advancing his move to the Nou Camp in January.