It is already unfolding as yet another summer transfer saga for Manchester United, but the uncertainty over the future of Bayern Munich star Toni Kroos grew on Tuesday when he was left on the bench for the visit of Arsenal.
Kroos had commented on his future prior to Bayern's second-leg clash with Arsenal in the Champions League, saying he would be open to joining a club outside of Europe's premier club competition.
Neil Ashton of The Mail Online reported Kroos saying:
It’s no secret, the Premier League is a possibility for me. I’ve heard that people have written that I might go to England. But there’s nothing new from my point of view. No decision has been made. The situation is that I don’t have any agreement at the moment at Bayern. On the other side there is no agreement in place anywhere.
The Guardian's David Hytner added that Kroos said, in relation to the potential United transfer: "I will consider everything. If I should leave."
Kroos' quality is undoubted and his addition to the Red Devils' squad would strengthen David Moyes' rebuilding of the fallen champions considerably.
But Pep Guardiola seems intent on keeping the player and gave him a glowing reference prior to Tuesday's match.
Ashton reported the Spanish manager saying: "Toni is a great talent, a good, good player. He’s young. He can be better and better. He can improve. I said to him, 'you have time to become an even better player.' I hope he maintains his form this season and for more seasons at this club."
WhoScored.com recently highlighted Kroos' class, tweeting about the player's credentials and record:
The fact Kroos is already mentioning his future could indicate that he is already planning for the end of the season, and United definitely need a player like him to supplement their midfield.
However, Rob Dawson of The Manchester Evening News and Bleacher Report had a more realistic view on the player's comments:
Dawson is correct. The feeling around United's move for Cesc Fabregas last summer, as reported by Sky Sports, had a similar flavour to this potential deal for Kroos, and eventually ended up with the player staying with Barcelona.
Despite Guardiola's kind words about Kroos, there is proof the player might be falling from favour. He has not started three of Munich's last six Bundesliga games, per Squawka, and more tellingly did not start Tuesday's night Champions League game against Arsenal.
This could be a sign that the German club are slowly but surely phasing him out of their future plans.
Hytner of The Guardian says Kroos is currently only on £70,000 per week.
It is assured that United would better this and make him one of their top earners even if they finish outside of the top four in the Premier League this season, as seems likely. The huge payrise would be tempting to the young German.
The Glazers know that after such a poor campaign and abjectly poor start by Moyes, United need to invest significantly. They managed to cope for many years as Sir Alex Ferguson patched up his midfield and still managed to win trophy after trophy.
But those days have gone, and United need to enter the leagues of spending witnessed by their Manchester neighbours and Chelsea. Even Arsenal have shown intent with their huge purchase of Mesut Ozil. United are in danger of being left behind if they do not take action soon.
Kroos will represent excellent value at whatever wage he ends up commanding. In his mid-twenties now, he will improve and has the important "added-value" that the Glazers love to search for. With Kroos, that means in three or four years' time he could have incredible value on the transfer market should a Real Madrid or similar club come calling for him.
United are not a selling club, but as with Cristiano Ronaldo you cannot hold on to every player if he has ambitions to play elsewhere.
Kroos can be the player that Moyes uses to rejuvenate United and take his new-look team back to the summit of English football. With Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney operating in front of him, United could have one of the most sumptuous attacks in the world.