Christoph Kramer is unquestionably returning to Leverkusen . . . unless he isn’t.

“Leverkusen? Nothing has been decided.”

That is the quote Kicker.de attributed to Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder Christoph Kramer in a story published Wednesday.

“I am under contract to play in Leverkusen as of summer 2015,” quotes Bild.de, “As it currently stands, I’m headed there to play, as of this summer. And not just because I must, but because the ‘concept’ there has me completely convinced.”

 

The services of Kramer have been the focus of some mid-week chatter as rumors circulate that a summer 2015 return to Leverkusen, who loaned him to ‘Gladbach in the summer of 2013, is imminent.

With injury and lack of consistency forcing coach Roger Schmidt to audition multiple combinations at the double-pivot this season, making a 23-year-old world champion a fixture in Schmidt’s favored 4-2-3-1 seems a bit of a no-brainer, especially considering that said world champion is already under contract with the team into 2017.

As if center back Kyriakos Papadoupolis and offensive-star Hakan Canhaloglu needing to pull spot duty in the defensive midfield weren’t enough to spur the Leverkusen front office into action, long-time midfield presence and team captain Simon Rolfes has announced his intent to retire at season’s end.

Hence, while Kramer may not really have decided what jersey he’d prefer to be pulling over his head next season, Bayer sporting director Rudi Völler made his mind up about the matter some time ago.

“The situation remains clear,” says Völler about the matter. “There is no status update.”

Things may seem fairly cut and dried to Völler, especially with regards to what he’d like to see happen.

From Kramer’s point of view, however, things are clearly a bit cloudier.

After returning home from Brazil, Kramer controversially compared the handling of players and their contracts to “modern-day human trafficking.”

“If I don’t wish to play somewhere, I won’t play there,” said Kramer in August. “A contract can say whatever it wants.”

Before emerging onto the international stage during his current two-year loan to neighboring Mönchengladbach, Kramer had been sent to the 2. Bundesliga for a pair of seasons on loan to VfL Bochum, where he appeared in 67 matches.

The seemingly conflicting statements from Kramer may be of little concern to Völler, it definitely serves as grist for the insatiable transfer rumor mill, which probably helps feed Kramer’s sense of  possibilities beyond a simple return to where he is already under contract. While the 23-year-old’s prospects for Germany seem fairly simple, alternate landing spots in England (Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham), Spain (Real Madrid), and Italy (Juventus) have all been connected with Kramer’s name.

And with a figure as large as the 20 million pounds reportedly available from Arsenal to outbid all comers, it wouldn’t be too surprising to hear Völler eventually contradict his long-held stance on Kramer.

Then again, suitors and the amount of their transfer offers are the stuff of the football internet and rarely materialize the way they are proposed in online reports, which is why Völler can convincingly play the straight man in the face of the many reports.

Ultimately, everything remains speculation and rumors, both of which are all well and good, especially in the down time between matches, as long as you keep in mind that it is nothing more than speculation and rumor, at which point it becomes clear that Kramer’s current coach, Lucien Favre, has the most-solid take on the subject you’re likely to hear.

“We know that he won’t be here much longer.”

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Randall Hauk is a freelance writer living in the United States while covering German football. He is currently the publisher of Planet Effzeh, an English-language site covering 1. FC Köln. He wrote about the German national team for the Telegraph as part of their World Cup Nation coverage.

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