Munich - Off the Ball,'s weekday feature, casts an eye over some of the offbeat and occasionally controversial tales to have emerged from Germany's top flight sides.

Today, we find out which FC Barcelona star nearly joined FC Bayern München, discover which team has had its eye on Borussia Mönchengladbach's keeper, and catch up with 1. FC Nürnberg in Andalucia.

The thought of Barcelona midfielder Xavi joining Bayern München is a frightening prospect, but it very nearly happened five years ago. Xavi, now 33, revealed that he held preliminary talks with the German record champions in the summer of 2008 - curiously enough, however, it was now-Bayern and then-FC Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola who stopped the deal from going through. "It was pretty serious," Xavi told Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo. "But Pep grabbed me and told me I couldn't go." Cue a collective sigh of relief from Bayern's Bundesliga rivals.

The news that will not be signing a new contract at Borussia Mönchengladbach when his current deal comes to an end is likely to have alerted suitors from across Europe, but this isn't the first time there's been strong interest in securing the 21-year-old's services. Not according to El Mundo Deportivo anyhow, who claim that ter Stegen has been watched by no fewer than ten Barcelona scouts since he last appeared for Gladbach's Under-17s. For now, though, the Foals' stopper is focused on helping Gladbach maintain their push for a European place.

It may only have been a mid-season friendly, but who can blame 1. FC Nürnberg for wanting to celebrate after their 5-1 victory over Steaua Bucuresti? After all, it was der Club's very first win since a difficult campaign began. Following Tuesday's resounding victory over the Romanian champions, Gertjan Verbeek (l.) and Co took to the go-kart track in Andalucia for a team bonding session. "We've got a long path ahead of us, so we need a lot of patience and a full tank," said sporting director Martin Bader. We think he was talking about the second half of the Bundesliga season...