Goalkeeper Neuer to leave Schalke for Bayern

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is leaving Schalke to join
Bundesliga rival Bayern Munich, which also announced the signing of
Brazilian defender Rafinha on Wednesday.

Neuer, the Schalke captain, had another season on his contract
but was allowed to leave immediately. Both clubs confirmed the
deal.

Rafinha, a former Schalke player, arrives from Genoa. The double
transfer was a move to strengthen a defense that was Bayern’s weak
point this season.

Bayern said Neuer would sign a five-year contract next week
after returning from national team duty and passing a medical.

”I am looking forward with joy to the great and exciting
challenge at Bayern,” Neuer said in a statement. ”Many national
team players will now be my teammates in Bayern so it won’t be such
a novelty for me and I’ll fit in quickly.”

No details of the deal were given, but German media have widely
reported that Bayern’s bid was worth ?18 million ($26 million),
plus an estimated ?7 million ($10 million) in bonuses linked to
future Bayern successes.

”We are very pleased to have signed the No. 1 goalkeeper in
Germany but also one of the top ‘keepers in the world to a
long-term contract,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
said.

Neuer, 25, helped Schalke win the German Cup and reach the
semifinals of the Champions League this season. If he had seen his
contract through, Schalke would get no transfer fee next season,
when he would have become a free agent.

”This decision was very difficult for our club because we are
losing an outstanding player,” Schalke general manager Horst Heldt
said.

”Under the circumstances, this was the best decision for
Schalke.”

Schalke moved quickly to fill the void and announced the return
of goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann, who spent the last two seasons at
Eintracht Frankfurt. Faehrmann received a four-year contract.

While Schalke is losing its captain, the heavily indebted club
could hardly afford to forgo the millions from Bayern.

Bayern has been courting Neuer for months and in April the
goalkeeper said he would not extend his contract with Schalke.
Schalke said it was Neuer’s wish to leave immediately.

Bayern finished only third in the Bundesliga and will have to
qualify for the Champions League.

By signing Neuer, Bayern hopes to find a long-term solution for
its goalkeeping problems.

Coach Louis van Gaal decided to change goalkeepers in midseason,
promoting untested Thomas Kraft over the experienced veteran Joerg
Butt, a decision that ultimately cost the Dutchman his job. Butt
returned to the goal after Van Gaal’s firing and Kraft has since
left the club.

Bayern’s coach in the new season will be Jupp Heynckes.

Neuer is a native of Gelsenkirchen who joined Schalke in
preschool days. He made his Bundesliga debut in August 2006 and
played his first game for Germany less than three years later.

Neuer helped Germany finish third at last year’s World Cup in
South Africa.

Rafinha signed a three-year contract, Bayern said, also without
giving details.

The 25-year-old Brazilian played for Schalke for five seasons
before moving to Genoa one year ago.

”In Rafinha, we’ve signed an experienced player who will give
our defense more stability,” Bayern sporting director Christian
Nerlinger said.

Rafinha said he was pleased to be ”back in the
Bundesliga.”

Bayern said that the signing of Rafinha, who plays on the right
flank, would move captain Philipp Lahm to left back, where he
played for several seasons.