Toni Kroos' underwhelming role during Bayern Munich's 1-1 Champions League quarter-final draw with Manchester United—which saw the German star control possession without showing any attacking intent—could open the door to an Old Trafford switch.
The player appeared to react in a confused manner when substituted by Pep Guardiola, an occurrence that could have greater repercussions further down the line, as highlighted by Joe Bernstein of the Daily Mail:
Toni Kroos was asked to sacrifice his attacking flair for the Bayern cause at Old Trafford—and Manchester United will hope it opens further friction between the talented 24-year-old German international and his boss.
[...] If Guardiola uses him like that for the rest of the season, maybe Kroos really will start to seriously consider a move to United.
Bernstein notes Guardiola had an "encouraging word" with Kroos when removing him from the game, alongside an image that hints at disagreement, as summarised by Samuel Luckhurst of the Huffington Post and Kevin Palmer of Ireland's Sunday World:
At the risk of coming across as sensationalist, pictures showed Guardiola and Kroos having a tetchy exchange pic.twitter.com/wUT8hmv8VL— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) April 1, 2014
Kroos has been linked with a move to United since the January transfer window, per Gary Jones of the Daily Star. He is approaching the final year of his current contract and is said to be demanding in excess of £200,000 a week to stay, noted by Bernstein, wage expectations Franz Beckenbauer combated by saying, "He shouldn't raise the stakes too high," per Sky Sports.
Of course, Kroos could just be using United's rumoured interest as leverage to land such a deal with his current club. His alleged clash with Guardiola, though, indicates a strained relationship between player and coach, and it is perhaps ironic that it happened at Old Trafford.
Interestingly, German-based pundit Jan Aage Fjortoft questioned Kroos about playing in Manchester after the match, throwing up an inconclusive response:
Me:How did you like Old Trafford? Kroos:Liked it a lot.Great atmosphere Me:The chances u will play a LOT more here He:Future I decide later— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) April 1, 2014
I like Kroos.He is a good guy. He knew what I would ask him.I knew what he would answer What will he do? Not sure. He is a good poker-player— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) April 1, 2014
The versatile star certainly had his attacking attributes curbed against United. Out of Guardiola's trio of ball-playing midfielders, it was Kroos who dictated just in front of the defence. He sprayed many balls wide to Rafinha without heading into the box and could be seen offering each full-back support when United rushed down the flanks.
Despite possessing a pass accuracy of 96 percent, Kroos failed to make a tackle and was forced into pot shots from long range, reported by WhoScored.com. He is renowned for scoring thunderbolts from deep—he did exactly that against Arsenal in the previous round—but none of his three shots found David de Gea's target.
Will Toni Kroos move to Manchester United in the summer?
Bastian Schweinsteiger was afforded the chance to get forward with greater regularity. He netted the equalising goal from one such opportunity shortly before Kroos was substituted in the 74th minute. With Schweinsteiger ruled out of the second leg after picking up a red card, Kroos is likely to receive greater attacking freedom in next Wednesday's return.
David Moyes will like what he sees if he is to pursue Kroos this summer. The player doesn't appear completely happy with Guardiola and could be available to prise away if his wage demands are offered elsewhere.
Many United fans will hope Kroos' experience of Old Trafford sticks in his mind. If the Red Devils are to land such a talent, many European nights of a similar quality are needed in the future.