David Alaba has told Austrian publication Kurier (h/t MailOnline's Ben Nagle) he could move on from Bayern Munich. His words may offer encouragement to La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, both of whom have been linked with the versatile defender recently.
While he's content to pursue his goals at the Allianz Arena this season, Alaba said: "I am aware that this decision will come to me. I still feel very comfortable here, but I can also imagine taking a different path, taking the next step or looking for a new challenge."
Bayern will have to hope Alaba sticks around for the foreseeable future since he's one of the most important defenders in Europe. The 25-year-old is quick, physical, intelligent and comfortable in possession. He is also versatile enough to operate at left-back, centre-back and even in midfield.
Those qualities have seen the Austria international coveted by some of Europe's biggest clubs, including Barcelona. In February, star forward Lionel Messi reportedly told the Blaugrana to beat archrivals Real to Alaba's signature, per Diario Gol (h/t the Daily Star's Alex Wood).
An October report from Diario Gol (h/t Jonathan Spencer of MailOnline) revealed Los Blancos want to move for Alaba in the summer. Meanwhile, the UEFA Champions League holders had a bid of £38 million rejected by Die Roten in the summer of 2016, per Spanish publication AS (h/t MailOnline's Sam Morshead).
Shortly after, Alaba explained to Sport Bild (h/t Juan Romero of Sport) how he wasn't ready to leave Munich. Changing his mind will give the player a lot of options should he push for a move this summer.
Not only are the best of Spain's top flight showing interest, suitors are also forming a queue in the Premier League, according to Alex Smith of the Daily Mirror, who named Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool as those keen on the full-back.
Alaba would have no shortage of possible next destinations, but Bayern would be wise to do all they can to keep him. He's been at the club for the entirety of his senior career, developing not only as a skilled defender but also as a useful weapon going forward.
Having chipped in with a goal and a pair of assists in all competitions, Alaba is on his way to another Bundesliga crown with Bayern. The club is also likely to be in the last eight of the UEFA Champions League, taking a healthy five-goal lead over Besiktas into the second leg of their last-16 tie on March 14.
Alaba would have to balance the comfort offered by a guarantee of domestic dominance and progress in Europe, against the lure and challenge of moving clubs.