Toni Kroos has confirmed he expects to remain with Bayern Munich after Manchester United reportedly cooled their interest in the German midfielder.
The 24-year-old has provided a significant update to one of football's most consistent transfer rumours since January, indicating speculation can now be put to bed.
"I am expecting to play for Bayern Munich next season," said Kroos, reported by Bild, via the Press Association and Yahoo Eurosport. "There was a lot of speculation, but Manchester is and was not an issue. At this point in time I am fully focused on preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup."
These comments come shortly after reports began to suggest Louis van Gaal isn't interested in the player. Kroos was a target of previous United boss David Moyes, but according to Jamie Jackson of The Guardian, the newly installed Dutchman has ended any interest in his former Bayern colleague.
Karl Hopfner, Bayern's president, recently indicated Kroos' contract demands won't dictate a new offer at the Allianz Arena. The club will set its own terms and won't be held to ransom.
"This is the state of things, no question… Certain financial limitations we will not be exceeded… at some point the player has to say but what he want," said Hopfner, reported by Kicker and translated via 101 Great Goals.
Raphel Honigstein of The Guardian believes such a revelation will see Kroos leave, while Germany-based pundit Jan Aage Fjortoft suggests the player may stay with Bayern for another year:
Pep still wants him to stay but Bayern haven't improved their contract offer (says president Hopfner in Kicker): looks like Kroos will go— Raphael Honigstein (@honigstein) May 22, 2014
.@honigstein says B"ayern wont improve offer and Pep wants him to stay". Kroos says most likely to stay till 2015. So free 2015...?— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) May 22, 2014
Kroos' indecision has threaded itself throughout the development of this rumour. At the beginning of April he confirmed, "I belong to Bayern Munich" during an interview with TZ, per ESPN. However, he recently claimed, "It's no secret that the Premier League is not a bad league… I am a man for whom anything is possible," reported Kicker via 101 Great Goals.
It's possible Hopfner's comments, combined with reports of United's dwindling interest, have forced Kroos into playing down a potential exit. Bayern have made it clear they won't be extorted in order to keep him at the club, and if United don't want to make a move, the player no longer possesses leverage in his quest to receive an improved contract.
Kroos' well-rounded game would be welcome in the United midfield. Van Gaal is reported to be eyeing Roma's Kevin Strootman instead, a player he has worked with at international level and would offer the team a defence-minded midfield battler—the role they need to fill most urgently—per David Anderson of the Mirror.
Whether either player arrives at Old Trafford is a different story. The fans have become used to fruitless links to world-class talent over the years and will be hoping to see Van Gaal's tenure thrust into life with a world-class acquisition.
While it looks unlikely Kroos will be the player in question, the United faithful can expect signings of similar quality in the near future.