The 24-year-old was the star of the show as his side claimed a 2-0 win at the Emirates on Wednesday to strengthen his stance in contract talks with the club
By Enis Koylu at Emirates Stadium
Different year, similar story. Bayern Munich came to London to face Arsenal in the Champions League in consecutive seasons and twice came away with a two-goal victory.
Both times, Toni Kroos was instrumental; but this year, his position at the Allianz Arena was in question, and his influence all the more critical.
Mere months ago, it seemed unthinkable that his place at the Allianz Arena could be under threat. Perhaps one of the players to benefit the most from Pep Guardiola’s revolution, he finally looked to be living up to his billing – the long-term heir to Bastian Schweinsteiger and the future torchbearer for the Bayern midfield.
However, with just 16 months left on his current contract and an impasse in negotiations, he finds himself in an interesting standoff with the club’s management.
His demands are far from astronomical. The 24-year-old has been at the club since he was 16 (barring a loan spell at Bayer Leverkusen) and as a key member of last season’s treble-winning side, it is not outrageous that he would want to be one of the club’s top earners.
Wednesday’s win at the Emirates is proof that his desires are justified, and underlined just why Manchester United and Juventus are eager to pounce should a new deal not be forthcoming. Unlike last year, Arsenal put up far more fight and Bayern were made to withstand an opening barrage from a team eager to prove a point.
Manuel Neuer was the hero as the Bavarians survived the salvo unscathed, saving a Mesut Ozil penalty and a host of other chances. But there is no doubt who then turned the match in the holders’ favour.
Kroos had already stung Wojciech Szczesny’s fingertips early on with a brilliant shot from the edge of the area, but he later made the telling contribution in the two incidents which decided the match.
First, he lofted an incredible through-ball over the top of the Gunners’ defence which forced the Polish goalkeeper off his line to try and keep Arjen Robben from the ball. He misjudged his run, felled the Dutch winger and was off. Advantage Bayern.
The hosts survived the resulting penalty, but after the break, the Greifswald native finally broke the deadlock, scoring a fantastic effort from distance. Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski stood no chance of stopping it. Arsenal’s restistance was over and Kroos was solely responsible for ending it.
On a night where some of Bayern’s other big guns went missing, it was the man whose name is constantly in the headlines for the wrong reasons who made the difference. Thiago Alcantara might enjoy a greater wage packet than Kroos, but he was left firmly in his team-mate’s shadow.
Kroos has been warned by club legend Mehmet Scholl not to play poker over his contract, but his stand looks a whole lot stronger now.
Guardiola, himself an incredible midfielder as a player and someone who should realise what Kroos brings to the team, was delighted with his performance. “He played very well. He’s a very good player and he played at a very, very high level tonight.”
Kroos himself has revealed that he had clear-the-air talks with the former Barcelona boss, who had frozen him out of the team just a couple of weeks ago. “We had a very good talk. [Our relationship] was superb before and it’s still like that.”
So, with the backing of his boss, perhaps the saga surrounding his contract can soon draw to a close. And, in a match billed as an individual battle between Ozil and Mario Gotze for the title of Germany’s best midfielder, Kroos outshone both of his international colleagues just months before the World Cup.
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