Chelsea suffer defeat in chase for German strike starlet

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Bundesliga giants Bayer Leverkusen have beaten Chelsea to the signing of German wonderkid Julian Brandt, who has been coveted by a whole host of Europe's top clubs over the last 12 months.

Chelsea were put on red alert earlier this year when Brandt rejected a contract offer from Wolfsburg, but have failed to persuade the German Under-19 international that his future belongs in the Premier League.

The 17-year-old also had interest from Bayern Munich but has put pen to paper on a five-and-a-half year deal with Leverkusen, a deal which was officially confirmed on the club's website late last night.

Brandt will join up with the Leverkusen first-team squad in January when the move officially goes through, with Bayer's sporting director Rudi Voller lauding the purchase of one of Europe's most coveted young forwards.

He said: "Julian Brandt is one of the most talented youngsters in German football. His signing is a great investment in the future of Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

"Julian will join our first team squad at the the training camp in Portugal in January to give him a taste of working with the pros."

Brandt has been a prolific scorer for German youth teams throughout his teenage years, including five goals for the under-17 select side before stepping up early to under-19 level earlier this year.

Leverkusen's news will serve as a blow to Chelsea's aggressive efforts to attract the continent's best young talent, particularly when available on a free transfer.

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