Bayern Munich's defender Jerome Boateng gestures during a team training session of the German first division Bundesliga team FC Bayern Munich in the team training camp in Rottach-Egern, southern Germany, on Aug 3, 2018. (CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP)
BERLIN - Three top European clubs are said to be in the running to sign Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng.
Arsenal and Manchester United of the English Premier League are said to be interested in the 29-year-old, as are Paris Saint Germain, with the French champions appearing to be leading the race to sign the 2014 World Cup winner.
Time is running out for Arsenal and Manchester United to complete a deal as the Premier League's transfer window closes this Thursday. Meanwhile, PSG and its German coach Thomas Tuchel are reportedly Boateng's first choice.
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said Boateng would be allowed to leave if a club was prepared to match their figure on the player who has a contract that runs until 2021. The defender is reportedly valued at more than 50 million euros.
The Bavarian club has regularly announced that it intends to rejuvenate its aging squad. After signing 23-year-old German international Leon Goretzka from Schalke 04, Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal was allowed to depart, with the 30-year-old having joined FC Barcelona in Spain.
According to several media reports, a decision regarding Boateng's future is expected shortly, and may happen by the end of this week.
While Arsenal have not commented on the matter, both Tuchel and United coach Jose Mourinho say the German international would add quality to their defenses.
"My boss knows about my wishes and demands," Mourinho commented. United are said to have contacted Bayern while playing a friendly in Munich last Saturday.
Other reports speak about a meeting between Tuchel and Boateng a few weeks ago.
While some have suggested that joining the star-studded PSG side would enhance the image-conscious Boateng's marketing appeal, others say that playing in the English Premier League would result in more global exposure for the German international.
Several newspapers have spoken about signs coming from the player's entourage that Boateng is very interested in opening a new chapter in his career. French sports daily "L'Equipe" reports about PSG's growing interest, though concedes that the club has to consider Financial Fair Play rules.
Boateng is said to be considering a second attempt at an overseas club after failing to shine for Manchester City in the 2010/11 season.
As soon as Bayern and one of the interested clubs agree on the Boateng deal, a 2018 World Cup winner could soon join Bayern to fill the gap. 22-year-old Benjamin Pavard is rumored to have already signed an agreement with the Munich outfit during this summer's World Cup in Russia. The French defender is said to have taken advantage of a 2019 exit clause at his current club VfB Stuttgart.
Rummenigge has ruled out moving for Pavard in 2018. "We have Mats Hummels, Niklas Sule, Javier Martinez and David Alaba who can play in the central defender positions plus two youngsters."
Pavard is said to stand for Bayern's new generation next to German international Sule, who is the first choice to replace Boateng should the 29-year-old leave.
After moving to the Bavarians in 2011, Boateng developed into one of the world's best defenders, but the relationship between him and Bayern has suffered over the years. The Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper has written about growing tensions between the player and club.
During his three-month injury break in 2016, Boateng was accused by Bayern officials of neglecting his recovery and participating in too many celebrity events. "He has to come back down to earth," Rummenigge had said. Since 2016, Boateng has been sidelined with muscle injuries on several occasions.
The player stressed that the accusations were a great disappointment to him.
While Boateng was one of Germany's key players in their triumphant 2014 World Cup campaign, his performance four years later was much criticized. Some reports suggested he and other players had become complacent, and that a new impulse was needed.