Toni Kroos has played down reports suggesting he was unhappy with Pep Guardiola's decision to substitute him during Bayern Munich's 1-1 Champions League quarter-final draw away at Manchester United.
The 24-year-old midfielder, heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford—per Ross Dunbar of the Mirror—confirmed he had a tactical discussion with Guardiola after being removed on 70 minutes, reported by TZ and via Stefan Coerts of Goal.com:
We only discussed a few tactical things. It was the coach's decision to replace me. I don't mind when I'm taken off after 70 minutes. The plan was to bring on Mario Gotze in order to play even more attacking for the final 20 minutes. That is not a problem for me.
The coach told me I did well. Everything was just fine. Nobody likes to be substituted.
Kroos continues to be linked with a club-record £40 million move to United, per Alan Nixon of the Mirror. He appeared irritated when substituted in front of the English crowd, as noted 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
The versatile midfielder recently confirmed his commitment to the German club by saying, "I belong to Bayern Munich," reported by TZ (via ESPN FC). Kroos' versatility ensures he is deployed in a number of roles by Guardiola, who tactically placed the player in a defensive midfield role against the Red Devils.
This aided Bayern's possession stats and allowed the European champions to dominate large periods of the game, noted by OptaFranz:
25.9% - Bayern allowed Man Utd just 25.9% possession, the lowest percentage for Utd in the CL since opta collect that data (2003). Low.— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) April 2, 2014
Kroos could have been pushed forward during the final minutes, but instead, Guardiola aimed to secure victory via the creativity and pace of Mario Goetze. It almost worked when the former Borussia Dortmund starlet burst into United's box, but Arjen Robben stepped in to stroke his shot wide.
United's link to Kroos intensified at the end of the January transfer window. This was fuelled by the player's angry reaction to being taken off against Stuttgart, per Ben Burrows of the Mirror, but it seems his latest substitution shouldn't be classed as serious.
Moyes must quickly add players of Kroos' class. United's midfield is laboured and unable to quickly change gears, ensuring they are easily overrun by teams that possess pace and an ambitious attack. We saw this during recent losses to Olympiakos, Liverpool and Manchester City, fixtures United failed to score in.
Kroos' comments suggest he is settling on the idea of staying at the Allianz Arena, but nothing is certain, per German-based pundit Jan Aage Fjortoft:
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 player's decision to speak about his rumoured spat with Guardiola may hold the key here. Kroos has recently appeared unwilling to upset the Bayern hierarchy with the aforementioned messages of loyalty, hinting he could secure a new deal with the Bundesliga club.
United will need to act fast if they are to secure the player's future, if Kroos hasn't inked an extended stay before the end of the season.