Barcelona were ready to pounce if Bayern Munich had not completed their deal to sign Leon Goretzka, according to chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Germany midfielder Goretzka will leave Schalke at the end of this season to join the Bundesliga champions on a four-year deal, with the transfer confirmed by both clubs last week.
Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes and Rummenigge both hailed the deal as a positive for the Bundesliga as it kept one of Germany’s premier talents in the country’s top flight.
And Rummenigge has now claimed in an interview with Bayern-Magazin that LaLiga giants Barcelona were in the running for 22-year-old.
“If we had not signed Leon, he would have very likely signed for Barcelona,” he said. “In general, that cannot be [good] on behalf of German football.
“Leon is enormously talented, he is only 22 years old, a German international with great potential in his position. We would have been really wrong if we had not tried to sign him.”
Goretzka drew criticism and boos from fans, with banners unveiled in protest over the transfer, when he turned out for Schalke in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at home to Hannover.
Bayern announced a transfer outgoing on Thursday, with Austria Under-21 Marco Friedl joining Werder Bremen on loan until the end of next season.
The 19-year-old left-back, a product of Bayern’s youth system, has also signed a contract extension with his parent club running until June 2021.