Goetze set to join Bayern Munich
When it comes to getting their G-men, Bayern Munich are arguably giving their European rivals a masterclass in acquiring the very best.
First it was Pep Guardiola, the manager instrumental in Barcelona's success in Europe and domestically. And now Mario Goetze, described as a "once in a century player," is on his way to southern Germany.
Ahead of Bayern's Champions League semifinal against Barcelona, the news of Goetze's impending arrival turned the focus, if only temporarily, away from club president Uli Hoeness who is under scrutiny in a tax evasion investigation.
Goetze's agent Volker Struth told Borussia Dortmund that the 20-year-old German international wants to invoke a release clause triggered by Bayern, Dortmund said on its official Facebook page.
Although Dortmund didn't reveal the amount of the escape clause, German tabloid Bild reported it was a hefty €37 million ($48 million).
That would pad Dortmund's coffers and make Goetze the second most expensive signing in Bundesliga history -- Bayern spent €40 million ($52 million) on Athletic Bilbao and Spain midfielder Javi Martinez only a year ago.
Goetze is set to join Bayern on July 1, the same day Guardiola, a promoter of young talent at Barcelona, begins his reign.
"We are obviously disappointed beyond measure, but emphasize that both Mario and his advisers have behaved within terms of the contract," said Dortmund chief executive officer Hans-Joachim Watzke.
An early start
Goetze made his Bundesliga debut at 17 and has already appeared 22 times for Germany, scoring five goals. He helped Dortmund win the Bundesliga in 2011 and 2012.
Goetze's ability to dribble at pace, operate in various positions in midfield and great vision earned him the "once in a century" plaudits from none other than German legend Matthias Sammer.
He has formed an exciting partnership with another young German international at Borussia Dortmund, Marco Reus.
Landing Goetze marks the third time in three years the Bavarian club -- that Hoeness played an instrumental role in building on and off the pitch -- has lured a top transfer target from a fellow Bundesliga club.
Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer left Schalke in 2011 and striker Mario Mandzukic parted with Wolfsburg last year following his impressive performances for Croatia at Euro 2012.
There might be another arrival from Dortmund, too.
Goetze's teammate, Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, is reportedly being chased by Bayern -- as well as Manchester United.
Dortmund supporters lost one of their favorites last year, midfielder Shinji Kagawa, to the Red Devils in a deal worth £14 million ($21 million).
Goetze, born in Bavaria, could face his soon-to-be teammates in the Champions League final at Wembley in May since Dortmund and Bayern are both in the semifinals.
While Bayern face Barca on Tuesday, Dortmund play Real Madrid -- the record nine-time winner in the competition -- on Wednesday.
On its website Dortmund billed the first leg of its semifinal Wednesday as the "most spectacular home game" in its history and claimed the match would be the "biggest television event" in Germany since the 2006 World Cup semifinal between Germany and Italy.
"Coach Jurgen Klopp and sporting director Michael Zorc asks all fans of Borussia Dortmund to support Mario Goetze unconditionally as they would any other player in the final games of the season, but especially in the important Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid," Dortmund said.
Bayern won this season's Bundesliga with a record six games to spare and was last week named by Forbes as the fifth most valuable soccer team in the world at $1.3 billion.
Bayern was the lone German representative in a top 10 dominated by England's Premier League, which has more lax ownership regulations and a lucrative television rights deal but also more teams in financial distress.
In the Bundesliga, all but two of the 18 teams adhere to the 50+1 rule -- fans own 50 percent plus one of the clubs.
According to Swiss Ramble, a blog mostly dedicated to the business of soccer, Bayern's revenue rose from €223 million ($290 million) in 2007 to €368 million ($479 million) in 2012.
Dortmund's increase over the same period, €99 million ($129 million), put it second, with Goetze's sale sure to improve the numbers further.
Dortmund's pre-tax profits in 2011/2012 rose to 37 million euros, said SwissRamble, eight years after it nearly went bankrupt.
Hoeness, who won three of the biggest prizes in soccer as a player -- the World Cup, European Championships and European Cup -- told tax authorities in January about a private bank account he held in Switzerland.
"Through my tax adviser I turned myself in to tax authorities in January 2013. It was in relation to a Swiss bank account of mine," the Bayern president told Focus magazine.
The amount hasn't been disclosed, though Bild reported that Hoeness has already paid back €6 million ($7.8 million).
"Tax evasion is without any doubt a serious crime and there can be no justification at all for tax evasion," Chancellor Angela Merkel spokesman Seibert told a news conference on Monday.
"Uli Hoeness has disappointed many people in Germany, including the Chancellor."
Reporters were barred from asking questions about Hoeness' tax affairs at Bayern's press conference ahead of the Barcelona clash.
The 61-year-old Hoeness has been a key figure in helping to turn Bayern Munich into a global powerhouse that not only wins titles with established stars but nurtures young talent, similar to Barcelona.
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