By Alex Labidou
The agent of Michael Ballack has claimed that his client is interested in a move to New York Red Bulls after falling out of favour at Bayer Leverkusen this season.
However, the Red Bulls have apparently passed up the chance to sign Ballack and are instead targeting a deal with Aston Villa attacking midfielder Stephen Ireland, according to agent Michael Becker.
"Michael would love to play in New York. However, it seems that [New York general manager Erik] Soler already made massive promises to Stephen Ireland in October. This is an unbelievable incident," Becker told Goal.com.
"There are a lot of places where Michael believes he would be a good fit, but in New York with Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez, that's a title-winning team in his mind."
Earlier this month, sources revealed to Goal.com that Villa are holding out for the best deal for Ireland and if he was to go to MLS, he would like an increase on his current weekly salary of €95,000 (£80,000). Ballack's contract ends in June and he would be available on a free transfer.
The Red Bulls, who only have scored only once in two defeats so far this season, are in desperate need of a midfielder who can create chances. The lack of creativity has especially hurt Henry, who has had to play deep in the midfield at times to create attacks for his team-mates.
Signing Ireland would make sense for the team as he is a talented attacking player. Meanwhile, it is believed that the Red Bulls view Ballack as only a holding midfielder at this stage of his career, something that the 35-year-old's agent finds offensive.
"Ask Erik Soler why he thinks Ballack is a central defender or just a holding midfielder. It's a pretty exclusive point of view," Becker said.
"Why would you go for a no-name player who no one knows, who hasn't started in months, when Michael Ballack is available?"
Becker, believes that Ballack will end up in the MLS this summer however, and hinted that many teams could be interested in the former Germany captain.
"July 16 [the day the MLS teams can sign players from abroad] is around the corner," Becker said. "I'm sure you'll see Michael playing somewhere in MLS at that stage."