David Alaba is free to decide if he wants to move to the Premier League this summer.
But Hansi Flick remains hopeful that “the heart” of his Bayern Munich defence will sign a new long-term contract at the Allianz Arena.
Alaba, 28, has been outstanding at centre-back since Flick’s arrival at the German champions.
With Alphonso Davies’ emergence at left-back, Flick has moved Alaba into the heart of defence – a role he previously filled under Pep Guardiola and intermittently in recent campaigns – and has handed him greater responsibility to lead the side from the back.
However, Alaba’s contract situation, like that of midfielder Thiago Alcantara, has put his long-term future in question.
Alaba’s deal expires in 2021, with chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge declaring last week that they will look to sell players now rather than see them walk away for nothing in 12 months time.
“We don’t want to lose a player on a free transfer next year – I will be very clear about that,” said Bayern’s CEO.
If Alaba is ready to depart, then Manchester City will no doubt be at the front of the queue.
Guardiola worked with Alaba in Munich, and as he looks to chase down Liverpool next term is determined to strengthen in defence; Alaba’s quality, both at centre-back and left-back, and Guardiola’s knowledge of his character puts him at the very top of City’s wanted list.
Chelsea too hold an interest, with Frank Lampard similarly keen to raise the bar where his defence is concerned, having had problems throughout his debut year as Blues boss at left-back while also chopping and changing his centre-backs throughout too.
Should his availability become more clear, Manchester United would likely become an interested party also.
Alaba joined Bayern’s youth team in 2008 and made his first-team debut in February 2010, becoming Die Roten’s youngest ever player in a competitive fixture.
And 10 years later, Flick remains hopeful that he can convince a player he believes is “world class” to considerably add to his 382 appearances for the club.
Quizzed on both Alaba and Thiago, Flick stated: “I try to support as a coach and as an advisor. Ultimately, the player has to decide what he wants. We have to respect that.”
But when asked specifically about Alaba, he was unequivocal about a player he believes is “world class”.
“You can end your career at a club where you were trained.
“That does not happen all too often today. He could lead the way.
“I hope we can convince him to sign with Bayern. In the end, he’s a very important player for us, the heart.
“He’s not only an absolutely world-class player, but also important off the pitch.”
There is great respect between Alaba and Flick, who replaced Niko Kovac in November and has led Bayern to a domestic double after six months of sheer dominance in Bavaria.
After the weekend German Cup Final win over Bayer Leverkusen, in which Alaba opened the scoring, the Austrian told Kicker : “His door is always open – he has a very positive way of leading the team that I have never seen before.
“I felt comfortable as a full-back, but that also applies to central defence. As a person on the pitch, I took another step forward because I can lead the team differently.
“It has always been my aspiration to take responsibility on and off the field and to develop. It worked quite well.”
The question now is whether he signs a new big-money deal – which will put him in Bayern’s top tier of earners – or looks for a new challenge elsewhere, with Guardiola keen on a reunion at the Etihad, and Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona all long-time admirers.
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