Manchester United Transfer Rumours: Michael Ballack to Old Trafford?
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Bayer Leverkusen CEO Wolfgang Holzhauser publicly lambasted the midfielder, saying he was disappointed by the Germany legend's performances since rejoining the team he left a decade ago.
Holzhauser said (source in German): "Ballack’s performances have disappointed me. He has brought too little [in recent games]. He can influence the crowd with his aura—but he hasn’t done so."
"He still has a contract, which we will handle professionally. But if a club comes along, we will talk to them."
Rudi Voller, a director at Leverkusen, went even further in his criticism, claiming he would've taken Ballack off at halftime against Mainz last weekend, so poor was his performance.
Such a high volume of criticism could lead Ballack to seek a quick exit from the club, after being publicly humiliated by his employers.
And given that United manager Sir Alex Ferguson holds the German in high regard, a late January swoop might be on the cards—especially since the Red Devils are clearly lacking midfield depth, despite the return of club hero Paul Scholes.
It would be quite a logical move as Ballack clearly still has quite a bit to offer.
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He's scored two goals and made an assist in 14 Bundesliga matches this season, and still has a great eye for a killer pass, making 12 key passes in the league—providing a more incisive creativity than Scholes.
And like he's done throughout his career, Ballack is still a dab hand defensively, winning 30 tackles and making 25 interceptions, a better rate than any of United's central midfielders barring Anderson in the tackling stakes.
He also spreads the play well, matching Scholes in terms of accurate long balls hit, having sprayed around 50 accurate long balls from 70 attempted.
Overall he hasn't really done that bad this term, and certainly not poor enough to merit harsh comments from the people upstairs at Vizekusen, or "Never-kusen" (a pun about the club having never won the Bundesliga title).
Since it's still unclear when Anderson and Tom Cleverley will return from injury and Paul Scholes won't be able to play every game, United may be tempted to thrash out a late deal for Ballack.
Of course it could just end up like the Frank Lampard rumour, with managers consistently rejecting the endless speculation.
But, stranger things have happened in football, especially as regards Sir Alex's transfer history (Henrik Larsson loan), and United could do with another midfielder and a bit more experience in their side.
So who knows? Considering we're approaching transfer deadline day, where the impossible becomes possible, this logical transfer might just happen.
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