Berlin (AFP) – Schalke boss Christian Heidel has slammed Germany’s general manager Oliver Bierhoff for comments he made about their Bayern Munich-bound midfielder Leon Goretzka.
“I’ve got the message that he understands Leon’s move. I think that the national team manager has to be objective,” fumed Heidel on Thursday ahead of Schalke’s away Bundesliga match at Stuttgart.
“Anyone can say that, but not the manager of the national team,” Schalke’s sports director said.
“That’s where I have to speak for the other clubs.”
Heidel took exception to Bierhoff’s suggestion that all good young German players should join Bayern.
“An ambitious young international wants to win titles and is reluctant to sit on the couch on Wednesdays when other play Champions League games,” Bierhoff, who played for Hamburg and Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga before leaving Germany and finding success in Italy, told magazine Sport Bild.
As Bayern are the only German club left in the knock-out phases of the Champions League, Bierhoff’s implication is clear.
Heidel insists that each club is happy when one of their players are called up by Germany, “but if it means that we must then be afraid that a player will go to Bayern, that is questionable”.
Germany head coach Joachim Loew said he understood Goretzka’s motivation.
“The decision to switch to Bayern Munich, of course, did not generate great sympathy everywhere,” said Loew.
“But it was his decision and one of conviction.”
Schalke are understandably sore at losing one of Germany’s top rising talents to runaway league leaders Bayern, who are on course for a sixth straight Bundesliga title.
Goretzka, 22, will join Bayern next season on a free transfer after five years with Schalke.
He broke into the Germany squad last July under Loew when a young squad, minus their World Cup-winners, won the Confederations Cup in Russia.
Goretzka is set to keep his place in the Germany squad which will defend the World Cup title in Russia this June.
The Gelsenkirchen-based club say they did “everything possible” to keep the talented central midfielder.
Bierhoff added that Schalke should not “hang him out to dry” after Goretzka was booed in last Sunday’s 1-1 draw at home to Hanover 96.
“It’s now getting to the point where Schalke needs no advice or demands from anyone,” said an annoyed Heidel.
“Likewise, we do not interfere with the national team.”
Meanwhile, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has said the Bavarian giants did German football a favour by ensuring Goretzka “remains in the Bundesliga”.
Bayern fought off reported interest from Liverpool, Juventus and Barcelona.
“If we hadn’t signed Goretzka, there is a strong probability he would have gone to Barcelona,” Rummenigge wrote in the match programme for Saturday’s German league game at home to Hoffenheim.
“That would not have been in the interest of German football.
“Leon Goretzka is enormously talented, he is only 22 years old, a German international with huge potential in his position — we would have made a mistake if we hadn’t signed him.”
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