The 24-year-old damaged cruciate ligaments in a Bundesliga fixture on 29 October, and flew to the United States on Saturday - 24 hours after his wife Giselle gave birth to their second child - to be operated on by renowned surgeon Dr Richard Steadman in Colorado. Bayern fear Santa Cruz, who has scored three goals in seven Bundesliga outings this term, could miss the rest of the season.
If so, Santa Cruz may have played his final game in tandem with Michael Ballack after Bayern withdrew their offer of an improved contract to the Germany midfielder. With his deal due to expire in the summer, the German champions could now cash in on the 29-year-old in January rather than see him depart for free in the summer.
Speaking at the club's annual general meeting, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: "It does not necessarily mean that Michael will leave us but I say point blank that we will immediately sound out the market to look for a replacement." Ballack has won two Bundesliga crowns and two German Cups at Bayern following his transfer from Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
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