Michael Ballack has vowed not to leave his club Bayern Munich in the lurch by seeing out his contract and then moving abroad on a free transfer.
Midfielder Ballack, 28, is contracted at the Olympic Stadium until June 2006 but assured Munich followers that he would resolve his future before that date.
“I do not think that it will come to me deciding directly after the 2006 World Cup whether I want to stay or go,” Ballack told SportBild.
“I will either choose a new challenge or say: ‘I feel good here and would like to extend my contract.”
Ballack joined Bayern from rivals Bayer Leverkusen in 2002.
The club’s management is desperate for the goal scoring midfielder to sign on the dotted line but acknowledge other European clubs, in particular Chelsea, can put together a superior financial package.
“We can offer Michael an improved contract but Mr. (Roman) Abramovich seems to be printing money at home and there is nothing you can do to combat that,” said general manager Uli Hoeness.
Ballack has scored 22 goals in 50 appearances for Germany, establishing him as one of the most dangerous attacking midfielders in Europe.