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Apr 23, 2013

Dortmund OKs Mario Goetze to Bayern

Mario Gotze has confirmed that he is set to leave Borussia Dortmund for one of their closest rivals, Bayern Munich

Germany midfielder Mario Goetze is going to Bayern Munich.

Bayern said Tuesday it was "prepared to activate the contractual release clause" in Goetze's contract with Borussia Dortmund, reportedly set at about 37 million euros ($48 million), and that the 20-year-old attacking midfielder will join the club on July 1.

The club said on its website that it wanted to delay the announcement -- which was leaked to German daily Bild -- "out of consideration" for Dortmund's match against Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals on Wednesday.

"I believe that actually," Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said. "Bayern Munich have no interest in tripping us up (for the game), and as Mario Goetze doesn't have much interest in it, that doesn't leave many suspects."

Goetze and his agent, Volker Struth, informed Dortmund a few days before that the player wished to activate his buy-out clause and join Bayern.

"Of course we're disappointed beyond measure, but stress that both Mario and his agent behaved absolutely correctly with regard to the contract," Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said.

Dortmund, the Bundesliga champion in the previous two seasons, said that it hadn't yet heard from officials at Bayern, this season's champion.

The club said it was concentrating on the game against Real Madrid, and asked fans to continue to support the player like they would any other to the end of the season.

Goetze's Facebook page quickly became a target for abusive messages from disappointed fans, and Klopp appealed for supporters to leave their grievances at home.

While the announcement could not come at a worse point in time for Dortmund, it deflects attention from revelations over the weekend that Bayern president Uli Hoeness is the target of a tax evasion investigation.

The transfer could eclipse the previous Bundesliga record of 30 million euros Bayern reportedly paid Stuttgart for Mario Gomez in 2009.

Bayern has already signed Pep Guardiola as coach for next season and plays the Spaniard's former club Barcelona in its Champions League semifinal first leg on Tuesday.

Goetze was born in Memmingen, about 75 miles south of Munich, and moved to Dortmund when he was 7 because of his father's work.

He made his Bundesliga debut at 17 in November 2009 and became a regular over the following season, contributing six goals and assisting on 15 more in 33 games as Dortmund claimed the Bundesliga title.

Goetze missed several months of the following season as Dortmund successfully defended the title, and still impressed in his limited opportunities.

This season he has chipped in 10 goals and 12 assists in 28 Bundesliga games, as well as scoring two and setting up six in nine Champions League matches.

"Goetze has not decided against his teammates, nor did he decide against the club, where he gained a lot and gave a lot," Klopp said. "He wanted to play under Pep Guardiola. He wants to take the chance to work with this outstanding coach."

Dortmund is aiming for just its second European Cup final, while Madrid has its 13th in sight. Jose Mourinho's side has lost three semifinals since it last won the trophy in 2002, crashing out to Bayern on penalties last year.

Madrid trails Barcelona in the Spanish league and has been focusing on the Champions League in what is likely Mourinho's last season in charge.

"We are going to Germany to win so we can return to the Bernabeu with guarantees to try and reach the final," said Madrid forward Jose Callejon.

The Spanish side had a costly 3-1 victory over Real Betis on Saturday when midfielder Luka Modric and defender Marcelo had to go off with injuries. French striker Karim Benzema, who scored one goal and set up another, was also favoring his right leg and had to be substituted late.

Mourinho rested his first-choice defense, with only Raphael Varane and Pepe seeing minutes as substitutes. Playmaker Xabi Alonso was also rested.

Both Modric and Benzema made Madrid's 23-man squad but Marcelo was omitted.

The visitors will look to Cristiano Ronaldo to maintain his fine scoring record. The Portugal star leads the Champions League with 11 goals and is within reach of the single-season record of 14 goals jointly held by Lionel Messi and Ruud van Nistelrooy. Ronaldo has scored 50 goals for Madrid in all competitions this season.

"There are only a few in the world who can match him. Thankfully (Poland defender) Lukasz Piszczek is one of them," said Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin, who endured a frustrating time as a Madrid player. "He won't be able to stop him alone, we have to work as a team."

Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski, another reported Bayern target, has scored in 12 consecutive Bundesliga matches.

Dortmund dominated the past two domestic seasons but surrendered the Bundesliga title to Bayern this month. The last time Dortmund surrendered back-to-back titles to Bayern was in 1997, when it atoned by winning the Champions League.

Information from The Associated Press and Press Association was used in this report.

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