In a long-awaited transfer move, German international Miroslav Klose has left FC Bayern München to sign a three-year contract with Serie-A side Lazio Roma.
According to reports by Sportbild.de, the Italian Euro-League qualifiers will pay Klose a little over two-million € per year for his services and have given him his preferred number 11 jersey, in a step seen as symbolic of their intention to have the German national team's best active scorer play a leading role in their attack, next season.
After his glorious World Cup campaign in South Africa, Miroslav Klose (age 33) has struggled through injury and saw only occasional action for his former club FC Bayern München in 2010-2011, as Bayern manager Louis van Gaal settled on Mario Gomez as his center-forward of choice.
With Gomez going on to take the "Cannon" award as the best scorer in last year's Bundesliga and Bayern offering only a one-year contract extension instead of the two years the veteran had demanded, Klose's future as a starter in München seemed bleak.
The surprise signing of German hopeful Nils Petersen, who led the second division scorer's list at Energie Cottbus, showed that Bayern was already planning ahead, indicating that Klose would be assigned a mere bench role if he stayed.
This further compromised his hopes of leading "die Mannschaft" in attack at the next Euro 2012, which takes place in Poland, Klose's country of birth.
Germany head-coach Joachim Löw has always kept faith in Klose's goal-scoring instincts for the national team, and the hard-working, soft-spoken and unpretentious striker has always justified his confidence - dependably rising to the challenges of major tournaments, even when his league performances before had been merely mediocre.
Yet recently, Löw has started to field Gomez and apparently has heightened the pressure on Klose to see more regular playing-time in order to ensure his position at center-attack.
Uncomprehensively, other Bundesliga sides in need of immediate help for their offenses, especially Hamburger SV or Werder Bremen, didn't come forward to snatch up the Golden-Shoe winner of 2006, who leaves Bayern without a transfer-fee as his existing contract expired.
Lazio will be more than delighted as Miroslav Klose will certainly become an important asset in their announced effort to close in on Serie-A top-guns AC Milan, Inter and Napoli in the Italian race for international berths.
Fans in Germany, disappointed at seeing yet another favorite Bundesliga star lured away to another league, are keeping their fingers crossed that "Miro" will replicate the stellar performances of Rudi Völler in the Italian capital and reclaim his spot on the national team.
Klose started his career with 1.FC Kaiserslautern and came to FC Bayern via Werder Bremen, scoring 121 goals and 74 assists in 307 league appearances. He has netted an impressive 61 goals in 109 nominations to the German national team, second only to former Bayern legend, Gerd Müller.
However, Klose has never played for a foreign club, and some worry that, despite his exemplary professional work ethics, his modest character and sound 'homeliness' could make it difficult for him to assimilate to his new environment.
A concern that he can prove wrong only through prolific goal production for Lazio, a task of which he is fully capable, and one which most friends of football would love to see him accomplish.