The winter transfer window is usually a period of hot air. But rumors have started to swirl noticeably early in Germany, and this time around there may be something to them. DW looks at which transfers could happen.
Just to clear one thing up: Dortmund's Mario Götze - the hottest property in German football - isn't leaving Dortmund any time soon.
He's only 19, has a contract that runs until 2014 and plays for a team that is likely to be in the Champions League next season and that reportedly refused a 40-million euro offer from Arsenal at the start of this campaign. So any sensationalist headlines you may read in the coming weeks are just that: sensationalist headlines.
But the situation with other Bundesliga stars is very different. Indeed, there are good reasons to think that this winter some big-time deals will in fact get done. And the player most likely to go is one who just turned in arguably the best performance of his career.
Prince seeks kingdom
The knock on Lukas Podolski was always that he was a streaky, one-dimensional goal-getter who lacked the vision and touch to set up teammates. But Prince Poldi gave that notion the lie on Saturday, as he was involved in all of Cologne's goals in the team's 4-0 thrashing of Freiburg. And the two he scored himself brought his season total to an attention-grabbing 13 in 14 games played.
Lukas Podolski may be playing his final games for Cologne
That performance, as good as any individual one in Germany this season, left many people thinking: what is a player of this caliber doing in Cologne? Those people include Cologne's bosses and Poldi himself.
The man FC fans call their "Prinz" is a native of the area, but the 26-year-old has repeatedly insisted that he is by no means bound to his hometown club for life. And the fact that his contract expires next season led Cologne sports director Volker Finke to state on Sunday that Podolski would not be part of the squad for 2012-13, if he did not sign an extension.
Poldi responded by saying he would be willing to play for the amateurs or sit in the stands while his current deal expired - a clear statement that he, and not the club, would be deciding his future.
As a player approaching his prime, Podolski has everything to gain by leaving Cologne. Arsenal, Lokomotiv Moscow, Galatasaray and Lazio have all been tracking the forward, and Schalke threw their hat in the ring this weekend as well.
Cologne have some 25 million euros in debt to service, and if they wait until summer to sell, their position vis-à-vis the player and potential suitors will be weakened. The more logical decision would be to move Podolski this winter, when the fact that he is not Cup-tied could convince a buyer still active in European competition to cough up a few extra million.
Bargain price for a Rolls
Arsenal, Inter Milan, Juventus, Manchester City, Liverpool and now…Bayern Munich. That's the list of teams that are reportedly eager to swoop in for Mönchengladbach forward Marco Reus.
Marco Reus has been terrorizing opposing defenses this season
A breakthrough season with 10 goals in 14 games has earned the 22-year-old the nickname "Rolls Reus." He's also not Cup-tied, and what makes him particularly attractive is that suitors can bypass his current club and deal directly with his agent.
Reus's contract nominally runs until 2015 but includes an option for him to leave for a transfer fee of reportedly around 18 million euros. If this information is correct, and Gladbach are understandably not very interested in discussing it, any club willing to meet that price and able to agree terms with the player can simply snap him up.
Moreover, there's incentive to get a deal done now. The price of the buy-out reportedly goes up the more often Reus plays for the German national team, and this week various German newspapers ran reports suggesting that Bayern are interested in the somewhat more robust Reus as a potential replacement for oft-injured Arjen Robben.
Bayern most likely wouldn't want to risk shaking up their squad by dealing the Dutchman in the middle of the Champions League campaign. So a team with room for Reus in their squad right now might well jump in, dangling the lure of international football sooner rather than later for Germany's second-hottest commodity.
37 goals in 64 league games is a fantastic record under any circumstances, but it's especially impressive for a striker playing for one of Germany's smallest teams.
Cissé has often been forced to do it all by himself at struggling Freiburg
Freiburg forward Demba Papiss Cisse made it clear at the start of the season that he didn't see his mission in life as being a one-man insurance policy for the homespun Southern German outfit. A contract revision including a pay raise and a promise that he could leave for an appropriate transfer fee in summer were needed to persuade him to see out the penultimate year of his contract.
But this season hasn't gone happily. Freiburg are down at the bottom of the table and looking a decent bet to get relegated, even with the prodigious Senegalese. And he for his part hasn't always been showing up for practice on time.
The consensus is that Cisse will go to Bayern Munich by this summer at the latest. The Bavarians had mulled buying him as a back-up/complement for Mario Gomez sooner rather than later since their number two center forward, Ivica Olic, had talked about leaving to try and to get more playing time ahead of the Euro 2012. But this week he's backed down from issuing a transfer request.
But Freiburg are going to need a replacement one way or the other, and with Cisse involved in the Africa Cup of Nations for the initial weeks after the Bundesliga restart in January, they might want to start the rebuilding process this winter, rather than in May.
Bayern could afford to have a player off on international duty in January and February. They're far more interested in having the squad at full strength for what they hope is a long run in the Champions League.
Whether any of these deals get done is, of course, still in the stars. But one thing is sure. Telephone bills are likely to be high this winter in a transfer period that could actually, for once, live up to all the hype.
Author: Jefferson Chase
Editor: Matt Hermann