German international midfielder Michael Ballack has decided to return to the German Bundesliga after four years in the English Premier League with FC Chelsea London and has decided to sign a two year contract with former club Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
"With my transfer a circle is complete. I had a beautiful and successful time here, which I like to look back on a lot," Ballack told Bayer04's website.
At 13:32 CET Bayer 04 Leverkusen Managing Director Wolfgang Holzhäuser said, "Michael is coming back to us! And he will be received with open arms."
This announcement by Bayer 04 yesterday ended weeks of speculation on where Ballack would play next season. Ballack is said to have had offers from VfL Wolfsburg and Hamburger SV from Germany, FC Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspurs from England plus Real Madrid and another unnamed Spanish club.
Ballack is set to earn 6 Million Euros per year for the next couple of seasons at Bayer Leverkusen and the offer was lower then those of rivals Wolfsburg and Hamburg, but knowing the club and its set-up helped the Germany star decide to return to the Rhineland. Ballack is said to have had talks with former coach Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid, but when things did not work out he decided to accept the Leverkusen offer.
The 33 year old Ballack was born in Goerlitz. He had started his career with Chemnitzer FC and then joined 1.FC Kaiserslautern in 1997 with whom he went on to win his first Bundesliga title. Ballack had had his first stint with Bayer Leverkusen from 1999 to 2002 which ended in tragedy. In the 2001/02 season Leverkusen finished second in the Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League. On the final match day against SpVgg Unterhaching Ballack would score an own goal in the 0-2 defeat, and then in Korea/Japan Germany would go on to finish runners-up with Ballack missing the final against Brazil.
He then when on to have four successful years at FC Bayern Munich before leaving the German giants for FC Chelsea in the summer 2006. He had another four very successful years in London, but once more he couldn't win an international title with the club.
Now he returns to Leverkusen which Ballack himself described as "a move from the heart". And after his rehabilitation a lot will be expected from Ballack at the BayArena.
Bayer Leverkusen under seasoned coach Jupp Heynckes have a talented squad, but they lose one of their best players in Toni Kroos who returns to Bayern Munich and Ballack will certainly add quality and experience to the team which it desperately needs. Bayer Leverkusen over the last two seasons have had great starts and at the halfway mark even had a chance to challenge for the title, but then after the winter break the club couldn't keep up its performance level and went down the table. Now with Ballack amongst them the club could aim for a UEFA Champions League place and maybe challenge for the title, which has always eluded them.