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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2005, 16:30 GMT
Ballack to keep suitors waiting
Michael Ballack has said he will wait until at least January before deciding whether to move abroad or remain with Bayern Munich.

Bayern withdrew their offer of an extended contract but Ballack, 29, says he may yet decide to stay on after his current deal expires next summer.

"Foreign clubs can speak to me as of January," said the Germany captain.

"It would be a dream for me to play abroad but I can just as easily see myself staying at Bayern."

Should Ballack leave the Allianz Arena then he will have no problem in finding a suitor, with Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan believed to be interested.

However, club president Franz Beckenbauer believes the midfielder will only improve by going to Spain.

"I know Manchester United and AC Milan are in the hunt, but Michael will only improve himself by going to Madrid," said the former Germany World Cup winner.

"Anywhere else and it will not be a step up. Much as I want him to stay, I feel he will probably leave. If he does, the decision will only make sense if he goes to Real Madrid."

Ballack reacted to fierce criticism from fans by insisting he may still stay at Bayern.

"I just want to have the opportunity to listen to other offers," he told Munich's Tz newspaper.

"I haven't turned Bayern down and it's always a possibility that I will choose Bayern.

"At this point I have not decided anything. It is the most important contract of my career. It is my last big contract and it is only right that I look at the other options.

"I have never denied the fact that I want to play at a club that has a chance of winning the Champions League over the next few seasons."

Franz Beckenbauer
Beckenbauer fears Ballack will leave

Bayern coach Felix Magath still believes he will sign a new deal, but club officials told their annual meeting that a contract offer to Ballack had been withdrawn after he refused to give assurances about his future.

Beckenbauer now fears Bayern fans may turn against Ballack in protest at his refusal to agree a new deal.

He said: "He must understand the people because they are very faithful fans who expect their heroes to say they want to play for their club.

"They don't like it when Michael refuses to commit himself. I'm not disappointed in Michael as a person. All the power is with the clubs.

"But you can sense the mood towards him is changing, and the fear now is that the fans may turn against him.

"I can't help wondering what will happen when we play our next game, but Michael has taken his stance and will have to accept the consequences."


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