Arsenal v Bayern Munich - UEFA Champions League Second Round First Leg

What the headlines say about Toni Kroos

“I WOULD move to Manchester United if they don’t make the Champions League”

What Toni Kroos actually said

‘It is no secret that the Premier League is a possibility for me. I’ve heard that people have written that I might go to England. But there’s nothing new from my point of view. No decision has been made. The situation is that I don’t have any agreement right at the moment [at Bayern]. On the other side there is no agreement in place anywhere.’

Asked about the idea of joining a team without Champions League football, Kroos said “I will consider everything. If I should leave [Bayern Munich].”

What’s really going on?

Kroos, at 24 and having a remarkable season under Pep Guardiola with a Bayern side that look set to outperform Jupp Heynckes 2012-13 juggernaut. Bayern is currently twenty points ahead of Dortmund in the league table. They’re coming into a Champions League tie against Arsenal with a 2-0 lead, away goals to boot. Why would any player of his age and talent leave a side to a United with a deeply uncertain future under David Moyes?

There are likely a number of factors which could be at play. Kroos is a big talent on a team with many big talents, which can lead to a bit of restlessness. And his brother Felix has hinted at Toni’s lifelong love of Man United. There’s also the prospect of a below par United paying well above market rate, which would likely mean pressure from Kroos’ current representative or a push from new representatives to make the move (his listed agency SportsTotal represents players based almost exclusively in Germany with German teams). And the new challenge of a new league blah blah blah.

From United’s perspective, one could argue, in a wet-gummed voice, “Well Kroos isn’t even the position player they need at the moment—won’t he cancel out Rooney’s floating role, particularly as he’s on the biggest contract in club history?”

To which I would answer, “Shut up, nerd.” Not that the angle isn’t accurate, but the club also needs some big transfers to keep coming off, which would signal to other potential signees that the team isn’t flying off the rails, and keep up attendance and commercial sales in a year without Champions League football (possibly without the Europa League, too).

All of this is just speculation, but United likely need Kroos more than Kroos needs them.

Why now?

With only Europe in the balance and the Bundesliga pretty much wrapped up, Kroos is both signaling his club to talk to him, and keeping English media interest ahead of a crucial period in the season. Or, you know, he’s just a human being who answered a question honestly and we should all get a life.