It appears that Chelsea have decided their plethora of talented midfielders isn’t quite sufficient just yet for their needs. Despite the acquisition of Cesc Fabregas, to add to a stable that includes the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian and Andre Schurrle, they feel that one more is needed to complete the collection. And that’s the highly-rated Bayern Munich playmaker Toni Kroos.
Kroos is a much sought after young man. He’s in the last year of his contract at Bayern, and has so far resisted the blandishments of the German giants to sign another one. He wants a hefty hike in his wages, preferably to the level of some of his more highly-paid team-mates.
Let’s put some figures on this. He’s currently on some £70,000 a week, or £3.6 million a year, which is very much on the low side for a player of his profile and talent. The best-paid Bayern stars are on annual salaries of between £8 million and 10 million. But the Bundesliga champions, who are facing a rapidly rising wage bill, are unwilling to elevate him to anywhere near that level.
So it’s hardly a surprise that teams such as Real Madrid and Manchester United have been linked with Kroos, especially after his master-class performance against Arsenal in the Champions League last season. According to those in the know, Manchester United have already had an offer for his services rebuffed, while Real have told the player they are willing to pay him about £4.5 million annually.
Chelsea, however, may be about to blow both Kroos’s high-profile suitors out of the water. It’s claimed in the Spanish press that Jose Mourinho is willing to offer the player a five-year contract with an annual salary of about £6.7 million. And that has persuaded Real to give up their pursuit of the 24 year-old German.
It’s difficult to know how much credibility to give these reports. There’s no doubt that Kroos is a first-class midfielder, as anyone who saw his control of Germany’s World Cup game against Portugal yesterday will be aware. He’s a sublime passer of the ball and his ability to control the pace of the game and set up attacking play have made him the lynchpin of the Bayern side.
He would undoubtedly be a huge asset to any side that he played in – except perhaps for one which has just spent nearly £30 million on a very similar player with excellent passing ability and vision who can control the centre of midfield. In other words, Chelsea blowing wads of cash on Kroos only makes sense if they hadn’t just done the same buying Fabregas.
Assuming, however, that there is some truth to the story, how likely is it that Kroos will end up at Stamford Bridge? Bayern are unlikely to change their stance on his wages, and the German newspaper Bild (which is usually reliable when it comes to Bayern Munich) says Kroos is ready to see out his contract and walk away next year if they don’t. That leaves the Bavarians needing to sell this summer to cash in on the player – and the suggestion is they will insist on a transfer fee of around £20million.
Chelsea are unlikely to pay this for a player they can pick up for free next summer. However, Manchester United – who are far more in need of a midfielder of Kroos’s calibre – are desperate enough and rich enough to do so. Although Kroos has apparently rejected an offer from the Manchester club, it is highly probable they will come back with another one. That, in turn, might encourage Chelsea to make a bid for Kroos, simply to stop him going to Old Trafford.
Kroos, meanwhile, seems to be staying calm in the eye of this transfer storm. His only public comment so far is that he expects to play for Bayern next season and that Manchester United “is not an issue”. This is a drama that isn’t going away in a hurry.