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.