Gelsenkirchen - His transfer might not yet be officially sealed, but having been permitted to train with his new club FC Schalke 04 for the first time on Wednesday, Leon Goretzka at least has had a taste of what it feels like to wear the Royal Blues' colours.
Speaking after his training debut, the promising 18-year-old midfielder explained his reasons in moving from Bundesliga 2 side VfL Bochum to neighbours Schalke and why he intends to pay particularly close attention to Germany attacker and new team-mate Julian Draxler.
Question: Leon Goretzka, tell us about your first training session with Schalke.
Leon Goretzka: I felt at home right from the start. In Max Meyer and Pascal Itter I already knew two players from Germany's youth setup. I'm enjoying the fact that there are so many young players as that makes it so much easier for me to settle in. Also, the atmosphere was very positive, everyone gets on well with each other and the coaching staff are very dedicated.
Question: You were born in Bochum and played for VfL Bochum since you were a child. What made you opt for rivalling neighbours Schalke?
Goretzka: I was keen on taking the next step in my career and continuing my development at a high level, and I believe Schalke is the right place to do so. The quality in training is higher. Schalke are a big club who are constantly in contention at the top and they also play in Europe. Also, it's really important to me to finish my A-levels next summer, and moving to Schalke allows me to remain with the school I'm in now. It was never an option for me to leave school early.
Question: There were a lot of media reports saying a number of clubs were very interested in signing you...
Goretzka: That's an honour for me, of course, yet I never gave it much thought, to be honest, as I was totally focused on Bochum as we were fighting relegation. After the first conversation with [sporting director] Horst Heldt and [head coach] Jens Keller, however, I knew straight away that Schalke was the right destination. They totally convinced me.
Question: How did the Bochum faithful take to your switch?
Goretzka: Positively. Obviously one or the other will be disappointed, that's just how it is, yet many fans backed and understood my decision. I always gave my all for VfL and have a feeling the supporters also got that impression. [Bochum coach] Peter Neururer also wished me the best of luck. I'm actually planning to do a proper farewell soon to say goodbye to the VfL family at their offices. I had a fantastic time in Bochum and have much to be grateful for, which I'll never forget.
Question: How do you see your role at Schalke?
Goretzka: I'm starting from scratch, which is normal when you're a young player joining a new club. I'll give my all in training and try to impress. The competition is very strong in defensive midfield, but I don't fear it. I'm prepared to learn. I'm raring to go and want to prove myself. The Schalke side is growing.
Question: Did the fact that Schalke have developed a reputation of giving young players a chance to establish themselves in professional football play a role in your decision to join S04?
Goretzka: It was one of the key reasons for my move. Schalke's youth work has been superb for years, young players are being nurtured fantastically. Julian Draxler's a great example of that, I'm impressed by his development. He's only a little older than me but has already achieved so much. I trust I can get the odd bit of advice from him and learn something. Julian has come on fantastically well and proved it's possible to make it as a young player.