VATUTINKI, Russia - Germany international Jerome Boateng is irritated by speculation over his Bayern Munich future after the Bundesliga champions said he can leave the club, effectively putting him in the shop window at the World Cup.
"I don't know why the statements came out now," said the centre-back at Germany's base in Vatutunki, south-west of Moscow, on Thursday. "There is a World Cup coming up, we are here with the national team -- that's the only topic for me."
On Wednesday, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had stirred up transfer speculation about the 2014 World Cup winner. "If a club comes and he announces that he wants to move, we will deal with it," Rummenigge said, implying that Boateng's agent had already approached them about the defender leaving.
The 29-year-old has recently returned to action after a groin injury and hopes to add to his 71 international appearances in Sunday's Group F opener against Mexico in Moscow. He is under contract at Bayern until 2021 and Rummenigge has said any transfer would be expensive.
However, the defender says he is only focused on helping Germany at the World Cup and refuted the notion he is now up for sale. "I would like to play well at the World Cup anyway, it has nothing to do with my situation," he said. "I want to contribute to making us doing very, very well at the World Cup -- no more, no less."
Meanwhile, Germany midfielder Toni Kroos doesn't think the sacking of Julen Lopetegui as coach on the eve of the World Cup will significantly harm Spain's chances in Russia. Lopetegui was spectacularly axed on Wednesday after it emerged he had agreed to take charge of Real Madrid after the World Cup.
"I don't think it will be a huge disadvantage," Real star Kroos commented at Germany's team base. "Of course, there are more ideal cases, but I believe the systems already in place will come together."
Kroos, 28, who has won the Champions League title three times with Real, says he has not had contact with his club, but gave his backing to Lopetegui's replacement Fernando Hierro. The 50-year-old has been thrust into the job for Spain's opening World Cup match against Portugal in Sochi on Friday. He has limited coaching experience and only returned to the role as sporting director at the national federation last November.
"I got to know Hierro in Madrid, he is a good bloke and a good trainer," added Kroos. Germany kick off their World Cup title defence on Sunday when they face Mexico in Moscow, while Spain face European champions Portugal on Friday.AFP