German star Michael Ballack has slashed his wage demands in a bid to secure a move to the A-League with Western Sydney Wanderers, which is reluctant to sign off on a one-year deal.
The World Game has learned negotiations with Wanderers were at the stage where Ballack’s German agent Michael Becker had requested air tickets from the club for the pending arrival of his client.
With Wanderers continuing to stall, Ballack has now dropped his salary expectations to $1 million for a season – roughly half his opening figure.
Football Federation Australia, which owns Wanderers, has to make a final decision on whether to go toe-to-toe with Sydney FC in the war of the marquees and snap up the former Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Bayer Leverkusen midfielder.
Ballack was still playing in the Bundesliga four months ago and remains a potent force at the age of 35, but the emergence of Japanese playmaker Shinji Ono as a likely marquee capture for the start-up club has left the German considering his plan B, a move to the Middle East or Eastern Europe.
It’s understood that while Wanderers leans towards the 32-year-old Shimizu S-Pulse star – despite a marketing appeal far inferior to that of the 92-cap Ballack – FFA has raised the prospect of a 10-game guest stint offer for the ex-Germany captain.
Ballack is unlikely to go for that, preferring the one year deal, with an option for a second year, which he had agreed to.
In a further development, Melbourne Heart CEO Scott Munn confirmed that his club has also been in talks with Ballack’s Australian representatives but that nothing could be signed off on unless “the world changed tomorrow”.
“Of course we’d want a player of Ballack’s class and quality,” Munn said. “But we have a clear plan and clear demonstration of youth development.
“We’d love him. He’s a fantastic talent but the way things were set out to us, it’s not something we’d invest in. The numbers I’ve seen on wages are unrealistic in the A-League.
“If that were to change who knows. If it was possible Ballack’s price tag were lowered then we’d have him in our midfield tomorrow.”
A source in Germany confirmed: “Michael is keen to come to the A-league is waiting for a decision from the Australian end. He has put other offers to one side because his desire is to play in the A-league and he is now waiting for some form of confirmation.”
With Monday set down as a deadline for a final determination from FFA, the argument has been made to both Sydney Wanderers and also Heart that Ballack’s presence would dramatically lift gate takings with the investment in him reaping immediate dividends.
There is also the prospect that his presence in the A-League, along with that of Alessandro Del Piero, has the potential to raise the value of the impending new TV deal between the FFA and Fox Sports by a significant sum.