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Magath expects Ballack to stay

November 16, 2005 12:16 IST

Bayern Munich coach Felix Magath expects Germany captain Michael Ballack to agree a new contract despite the club withdrawing their offer of a record-breaking extension.

"I believe he's going to stay with us anyway," Magath said after a training session in Munich on Tuesday.

Ballack, Germany's Player of the Year, did not talk to reporters but Magath said the elegant midfielder is handling the situation well and is not offended by the club's move.

The 29-year-old has kept the German champions in limbo for months about whether he would accept a four-year contract extension worth a reported 36 million euros, the highest ever for a Bundesliga player.

While Ballack has indicated he wants to spend part of his career abroad like many German greats before him, he has kept his options open by repeatedly asking Bayern for time to make up his mind.

The player, who has won two Bundesliga championships and two German Cups since joining Bayern on a six-million euro transfer from Bayer Leverkusen in 2002, is reportedly a target for Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, AC Milan and Juventus.

Bayern's patience ran out on Monday when chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the club's annual meeting that they had withdrawn their offer of an extension but had not given up hope that Ballack would stay.

Bild newspaper reported that Rummenigge had sat down with Ballack and his agent Michael Becker on Monday and asked: "Can we report anything positive to our annual meeting?"

Ballack, whose contract runs through June, answered: "There's at least nothing negative to report. But I still haven't made up my mind."

Bayern then told him they were withdrawing their offer and would begin to search the transfer market for a replacement.

"For me the final word hasn't been spoken yet," said Bayern's sporting director Uli Hoeness in a radio with German radio. "I can well imagine Michael will stay with Bayern. But one thing is clear. From now on, the talks will be led by us and not him."

Becker said that Ballack has received "very concrete and serious enquiries from abroad."

Before January 1, however, Ballack and Becker are not allowed to enter any official negotiations with other clubs, according to FIFA rules.

Becker also said he is "not surprised" by Bayern's decision to explore the market for midfielders. He said it is "completely legitimate" for the club to look around.

"One can't force Michael to make a decision," said Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer, who has urged Ballack not to go to any other clubs seeking his services except Real Madrid.

"It's his life. At 29, this is his last chance to sign a big contract."


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