With little under a week to go until the transfer window closes, the saga dominating newspaper gossip pages throughout the summer remains unresolved.
Kevin De Bruyne, Wolfsburg’s star asset, remains the subject of intense transfer scrutiny as murmurings of interest from Manchester City continue to gather apace.
But, just as City looked a certain destination, the situation has become less clear over the last few days. Sky Sports reported interest from fierce rivals Manchester United before respected German newspaper Bild reported the Belgian midfielder was angling towards an end-of-season move to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich.
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Wherever De Bruyne’s long-term future lies, it looks less certain to be Wolfsburg with each passing day.
TAKE THE MONEY OR FOCUS ON SELF-INTERESTS?
Amid all the rumours and endless questions posed to sporting director Klaus Allofs, who controls the club’s transfers, the Wolves have been left in a catch-22 scenario.
Their own ambitions remain paramount and the 24-year-old played a highly influential role during 2014/15 as they secured second place behind Bayern Munich, even beating the German giants 4-1 to kick off their Rückrunde.
De Bruyne and in-form striker Bas Dost starred as the Wolves lost only twice after the turn of the year, though a title challenge never seemed plausible as Bayern were predictably out of sight.
Following that strong showing, many pundits picked Wolfsburg to run Bayern closest again going into 2015/16. Any potential challenge would surely involve Dieter Hecking’s talisman firing on all cylinders – but the sums involved in this transfer are incredible.
Local news outlet WAZ believed the German side would hold out for a fee of around €80m – a figure that covers their entire wage budget for a season. Where Wolfsburg reportedly offered De Bruyne a new contract worth €11m per season, City blew them out the water by offering €15m.
Bayern are reportedly offering €50m while allowing De Bruyne to stay with the club until the end of this season. It leaves Allofs and manager Hecking with a major headache – take the money and re-invest, or stand firm to keep hold of their prized asset?
The latter would be a firm stance and given De Bruyne’s depleted performance against 1.FC Koln this past weekend, a gamble that may not pay off if the Belgian’s mind is elsewhere.
TRANSFER WINDOW – NO TIME FOR REPLACEMENT
If De Bruyne leaves and Wolfsburg receive a hefty €80m boost, is it too late for Hecking to invest in an adequate replacement?
Rumours have surfaced over the signing of Dennis Praet, Anderlecht’s 21-year-old attacking midfielder who possesses like-for-like qualities to directly replace the outward-going Belgian.
But Wolfsburg’s stubbornness over the past few months has left little time to spend a larger portion of their €80m fee on a player more suited to making an immediate impact.
While the player has endeared himself to fans by not handing in a transfer request, could the German club have done more to force it through rather than leave themselves short with the season already under way?
With Ivan Perisic also reported to be on the move to Inter Milan, Hecking’s men are left with few attacking options and inadequate time to find replacements.
The momentum from last season is already wavering after a poor start – a few key departures could signify a rough season ahead for Die Wölfe.
Football fans, do you think De Bruyne is destined to join Man City? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.