Germany's strong World Cup displays have led to some of its stars becoming the must-have items on the shopping lists of Europe's top teams.
The World Cup put Germany's stars in the shop window
All major soccer tournaments can be viewed as shop windows for the talents of the players on show and none of them come any bigger than the World Cup. For club owners with deep pockets it's like the Christmas display at Harrods.
This 2010 showpiece has been no exception, and all manner of oligarchs and sheikhs have had their faces pressed against the window in South Africa, hoping to be the first in line when the doors are flung open and the hair-pulling, scratching and biting can begin in earnest.
Unsurprisingly given their fine performances on the World Stage, German players are among this summer's most sought-after items. While Germany didn't win the trophy, it was widely accepted that they played some of the best soccer seen at the tournament and as a result Europe's leading clubs will be chasing the signatures of German World Cup stars throughout the transfer window.
The players themselves may be on holiday after the exertions in South Africa but for their agents, the hard work is just beginning. Here are the players whose mobile phones will be constantly ringing while they're trying to relax on some beach in Dubai this summer.
The midfielder is currently the hottest topic in Rumor-land with a deal between Stuttgart and Real Madrid, according to Spanish sport paper Marca, done and dusted to the tune of 10 million euros ($12.7m). However, more recent reports from Stuttgart and the player himself suggest that the deal is far from finalised and that the whole transfer may now be in doubt.
Khedira, whose shimmering tresses and movie villain beard were also supposed to be teasing King's Road shopaholics Chelsea, is supposed to have visited Real's Valdebebas training ground this week to talk to the ever-flirtatious Jose Mourinho. Read into this what you will. Khedira once visited the Oktoberfest but that doesn't necessarily mean we're going to see him sporting an impressive cleavage and carrying steins of beer in the future.
Khedira's style of play may be better suited to Madrid but would he get to play regularly for Real?
However, it appears that Mourinho - who has been batting his eyelashes and suggesting romantic dinners ever since the midfielder displayed his prowess in South Africa - has indeed stolen a march on his former employers in London.
English soccer may be a bit too physical for Khedira, especially if Chelsea want to play him in the defensive midfield role he commanded in South Africa and Madrid could provide Sami with the right atmosphere and tactical set-up to get the best out of his style.
There is the risk that he may struggle to get into the team, which is always the case considering Real's bloated squad, but Mourinho tends to be less of a collector and more of a utilizer. If Jose is doing the wooing, Khedira can expect the relationship to be consummated to his satisfaction - professionally, of course.
Saying that, until Jose lays an impressive wad of notes on the table like a winning Royal Flush, Chelsea will still be hoping to trump Real by offering Stuttgart a fee of around 15 million euros.
Meanwhile, hanging around in the background waiting to pick up the pieces should this flirtation go sour, is Bayern's Louis van Gaal. He is also well aware that Khedira's contract is up at the end of this season, and the ever money-conscious Stuttgart may be keen to sell the midfielder now rather than risk losing him on a free transfer next season.
The 21-year old Werder Bremen star was one of the young players of the tournament, and his marauding attacking midfield performances have already attracted a number of suitors, mostly from the English Premiership.
Arsenal are rumored to be lining Oezil up as Cesc Fabregas' replacement should the Gunners' skipper jump ship to Barcelona. The Gunners are supposedly ready to offer Werder Bremen 24 million euros ($30.5m) for the midfielder and triple his 23,000 euro-a-week salary. Given Arsenal's style of play, such a move would suit Oezil whose string-pulling, creative flair would suit the Gunners' flowing football.
Oezil could play a similar, creative role in the heart of the Arsenal midfield should he move to London
Ever-optimistic London rivals Tottenham Hotspur are also hoping to tempt Oezil, with Manchester United another potential suitor, but English champions Chelsea have reportedly dropped out of the race for his signature.
However, Bremen's general manager Klaus Allofs is looking to spoil all the fun by saying that he would rather lose the player on a free transfer when his contract expires in 12 months time than have Oezil poached for a fee under Werder's valuation. Once Allofs has stopped sulking and stamping his feet, it is expected that he'll try to renegotiate Oezil's contract and keep him beyond 2011.
The player himself has spoken this week of his desire to stay at Werder until the end of his contract which means the vultures will have to keep in a holding pattern for most of the season before snatching the youngster away from the Bremen nest.
The usual suspects are at it again, this time muscling into position to wrestle Bastian Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich's slippery grip. Chelsea want Schweinsteiger as a replacement for his compatriot Michael Ballack who left in the close season but it is understood that the player would prefer a move to Real Madrid.
After asking his agent to make this desire clear to the Bayern hierarchy, however…and getting scary, furrow-browed death stares in return, the 25-year-old midfielder seems to have backtracked considerably. But Schweinsteiger's robust style of play would suit English soccer perfectly and at Chelsea he could quickly become a top dog in the team set-up, something he seems to covet.
Schweinsteiger's robust approach would fit well with the English game but the player fancies Madrid
Schweinsteiger's current contract expires in 2012 and the buyout clause contained in that deal is believed to be 55 million euros. Laughing heartily while lighting their expensive Cuban cigars with burning bank notes, Mourinho and Madrid have not been put off by this.
The Bayern midfielder's signature is reportedly a priority for Real this summer and his apparent preference for Madrid could swing the deal. Teaming him with Khedira in a replica of their hugely-successful Germany double act would be a masterstroke by Madrid.
Meanwhile, Inter Milan and Juventus will be looking down the back of the sofa for anything which can help them compete with Mourinho's millions as they vainly attempt to convince young Bastian that getting lumps kicked out of him in Serie A is a better career choice.
The downside of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge getting in such a state about people trying to sign his players is that the Bayern chief executive's whining has become so high-pitched that only dogs can hear him. This will explain why everyone is ignoring his 'hands off' message and trying to sign stars like Thomas Mueller.
Mueller is said to be a target for Real Madrid but it's likely he'll stay at Bayern Munich for now
News out of the Spanish capital suggests, somewhat creepily, that Real Madrid President Florentino Perez is particularly "obsessed" with signing Mueller. Between crying hysterically over a crumpled photo of the 20-year-old Golden Boot winner and sniffing a stolen lock of the Bayern midfielder's hair, Perez and Co. are reportedly preparing a deal which may or may not meet Munich's 20-million-euro valuation of the player.
Ignoring Perez and his 'special love' for Mueller, Chelsea - do we detect a pattern here? - are making overtures purely for the sake of it despite the player and his current club making it clear that they think his development will be better served by staying in Germany - at least for now.
Other Germany stars who may be tempted by pastures new are enigmatic tournament strike partners Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose.
Podolski is said to be a target for AC Milan, on the condition that they can offload the equally goal-shy Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and Manchester City - both of whom obviously haven't considered the debilitating homesickness Poldi suffered when he left his beloved Cologne for Munich ,and the fact that he can't score even when he's happily in the bosom of his family.
Germany strike partners Klose and Podolski may consider it the right time to move on
Baffling World Cup goal machine (and Bundesliga benchwarmer) Klose looked set for a dubious switch to Premiership strugglers West Ham United before enhancing his prospects this summer and now looks to have been saved from the grimness of East London by the nice people in sunny Marseille. The French champions are reportedly interested in trying to get some color on the pallid Bayern reject's ageing legs for a cut price deal of around six million euros. Stranger things have happened.
Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Matt Hermann