Robert Lewandowski's summer departure from Bayern Munich now appears to be a matter of 'where to' and 'on what terms', despite the Bundesliga giants' chief executive, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, recently declaring his confidence that the Poland striker will "100%" remain at the Allianz Arena next season.
Bayern seemingly following 'we had to sell' approach
Reading between the lines, that is what Rummenigge has to say at this stage. It has been made plain to the powers-that-be in Munich that Lewandowski is taking the necessary steps to secure a switch to another major European outfit - if at all possible Real Madrid, "the club of his dreams", as Bayern's CEO himself told Bild.
Bayern's approach is one which, in theory, then sees them announce at the end of the season that they were left with little option other than to sell, in order to respect the club values that Lewandowski decided to reject. The narrative is clear: the player comes out of it as the bad guy.
First, though, Bayern are keen to pin down his replacement, with Álvaro Morata, Edinson Cavani and Timo Werner said to be on their list of targets. For the Germans, this is a good time to start renewing their squad. 'Lewa' is 29, while others such as Franck Ribéry, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Javi Martínez and Arjen Robben are either close to or over 30. However, a number of decisions cannot be made now, as the identity of next season's coach is not yet known.
James future set to be sorted out separately
Meanwhile, Real midfielder James Rodríguez's loan stay at Bayern looks likely to be made permanent, but the Colombian international's future is expected to be resolved separately.
Cristiano, Ramos put out 'Lewa' feelers last year
Paris Saint-Germain are also readying themselves to go after Lewandowski, and are thought to be prepared to pay 150m euros. But Real Madrid are intent on snaring the former Borussia Dortmund man, with club president Florentino Pérez and coach Zinedine Zidane seemingly in agreement over the Pole.
What's more, Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos are both believed to have told him after Real and Bayern's Champions League quarter-final last term: we want you in the white shirt.