As Miroslav Klose looks to end a goalscoring famine against Slovakia in Hamburg, some German fans feel uncertainty over the future is unsettling the striker.
Klose has not scored in the league since Werder Bremen's 3-2 defeat by DSC Arminia Bielefeld on 29 April and last found the target for Germany in September's 13-0 rout of San Marino. A 6-0 win against San Marino in the first of their two June UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying ties on Saturday saw Klose's barren spell continue. Once a model of commitment with his tireless running, the striker - who turns 29 on Saturday - looks out of sorts.
The player has complained he has never quite recovered from a bacterial infection he picked up in January, but fans and team-mates are not convinced. Persistent rumours that he had agreed to join FC Bayern München in the summer of 2008, when his contract at Bremen expires, have dogged Klose this season, and his club and country team-mate Torsten Frings is eager for the situation to be resolved.
Frings said: "Of course, he is very useful to us, but given the trouble of the past months I don't really think he wants to continue to play for Werder. If that's the case, he should just leave." The usually taciturn Klose replied: "If you know Torsten, you know he says one thing one day and another the next. I didn't said anything when he was linked with Juventus but I can't influence whether he chooses to say something about me. Frankly, I don't care."
Franz Beckenbauer does care, and the Bayern president is eager for Klose's future to be resolved. "It's obvious he is troubled by the situation. Both clubs should meet and agree terms. Fans should remember how much joy Klose gave them with his five goals at the [FIFA] World Cup. We wouldn't have reached the semi-finals without his goal against Argentina."
With Germany comfortably top of UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying Group D, coach Joachim Löw is standing by Klose, insisting he will start against Slovakia. That should mean that Mario Gomez, who scored twice against San Marino, will start on the bench. He is not too concerned, saying: "I have played just twice for Germany, while Miro has played on the highest level for seven years now." Whether German fans will continue to be so patient with Klose if his dog days continue is another matter.
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