Schalke 04 are the latest big-name Bundesliga club chasing Bayern Munich midfielder Sebastian Rudy, who has also been linked to RB Leipzig, it was confirmed Wednesday.
Domenico Tedesco, Schalke's head coach, was photographed leading a three-man delegation from last season's German league runners-up through Munich airport on Tuesday.
Tedesco refused to comment on reports of a meeting with Rudy, but Bayern's director of sport Hasan Salihamidzic later confirmed on Wednesday that a meeting had taken place.
"Yeah, that was okay -- I gave permission for it," Salihamidzic told broadcaster Sport1 after a 4-1 friendly win at second-division Hamburg.
Thomas Mueller, who came on for Rudy in the second half, and Sandro Wagner both scored twice for Bayern.
After agreeing to sell Germany Under-21 centre-back Thilo Kehrer for a reported 37 million euros ($42.3 million) to Paris Saint-Germain last week, Schalke can certainly afford Rudy, who has a market value of around 15 million euros.
The 28-year-old moved in 2017 on a free transfer from Hoffenheim to Bayern, where he is under contract until 2020, but he was not used in key games last season.
Rudy has made 26 appearances for Germany but played just 31 minutes at the World Cup, suffering a broken nose in the last-gasp 2-1 win over Sweden, as the Germans crashed out in the group stage.
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has already said the club has too many midfielders and Arturo Vidal has since been sold to Barcelona.
RB Leipzig's director of sport Ralf Rangnick has described reports they have already signed Rudy as "the mother of all fake news", but did not rule out a future deal.
"According to how things currently stand, Sebastian Rudy will not move to RB Leipzig, but I do not know yet how things will look in a week or two," added Rangnick.
Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann, who will take over at RB Leipzig for the 2019/20 season, says Rudy would slot into the vacancy left by Naby Keita, who has joined Liverpool.
Rudy has a reputation for being a midfield organiser rather than an eye-catching match-winner.
"He is not a player who clearly stands out, but someone who brings a good structure into the game," said Nagelsmann.
Bayern, who have won the Bundesliga each of the last six seasons, open the new campaign at home to Hoffenheim on August 24.
Schalke kick off their 2018/19 campaign a day later at Wolfsburg while RB Leipzig travel to Borussia Dortmund on August 26.