The future of Bayern Munich midfield star Michael Ballack remains uncertain. Club president Franz Beckenbauer said however, if he were Ballack, then he would go to Spanish team Real Madrid.
Hey Michael, I'd move to Madrid if I were in your shoes
Tactics to keep his best player? Or just plain old-fashioned advice from one star to another? Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer has advised German international captain Michael Ballack to join Spanish giants Real Madrid should he decide to leave Bayern.
Beckenbauer and Bayern are trying to persuade Ballack, whose contract expires at the end of the season, to extend his stay with the German champions, but admit the lure of nine-time European champions Real Madrid is enticing for any top player.
"I'd probably say yes to Real Madrid," Beckenbauer told magazine Sport-Bild. "They stand above all others in terms of legend. They're the ambition of every player and it was the same when I was playing."
Ballack turned down Real Madrid in the summer of 2002 to join Bayern in a 12.9 million euro ($15.5 million) deal. At that time, Ballack wanted to make his mark on German soccer -- and stay in the country until after the 2006 World Cup.
The list of top clubs is long
Madrid aren't alone on the list of potential buyers. Italian titans Inter Milan are also monitoring Ballack and can point to a history of signing German players with West Germany's 1990 World Cup winners Jürgen Klinsmann, Lothar Matthäus and Andreas Brehme all having spent spells at the club.
"I do not know if Michael would have fun in the Italian league," declared Beckenbauer. "They often have crowds as low as 7,8 or 9,000. That's equivalent to the regional league attendances in Germany. In the Bundesliga we have average crowds of 40,000."
Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy could also be a Ballack teammate
English Premiership side Manchester United have emerged as favorites in the media but Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge dismissed talk that the move would be a step up from Bayern.
"I cannot imagine that he (Ballack) would go to Manchester United," Rummenigge told television channel Premiere. "What do Manchester United have that Bayern Munich don't? If you take a quick look at the English table then it seems it is nothing. If I was a player I would not go to Manchester United under any circumstances."
Ballack has postponed making any decision until the end of November when he is expected to inform Bayern whether he will sign on the dotted line or leave on a free transfer in June 2006.
For the time being, nobody, probably not even Ballack's agent Michael Becker, knows which club will get the lucky phone call that is something akin to the jackpot in the lottery.