Michael Ballack and his representatives are in deep negotiations with Major League Soccer, Goal.com has learned.
Sources from both sides have confirmed that MLS Executive VP Todd Durbin initiated talks that would bring the former Germany captain and current Bayer Leverkusen midfielder to North America. A source close to the player revealed that Durbin listed five teams interested in bringing Ballack onboard, including New York, Montreal, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle.
"Ballack would be interested in playing for any of those teams, and now it all comes down to who can afford him," the source said.
Despite interest from the Middle East, Asia and Europe, Ballack, 35, told the source that his intention is to play his final two years in MLS. Ballack is looking for an annual salary within the range of Thierry Henry's $5.5 million and David Beckham's $6.5 million and would prefer to play for a team that can potentially win the MLS Cup this season.
"Michael has made 160 million euros in his career," the source said. "It's not all about money. He loves America and wants to be a guy that young players can look up to and help a team win."
While Bayer Leverkusen has told Ballack and his reps that he can terminate his contract immediately, his agent, Michael Becker, told Goal.com that he will finish his contract with the Bundesliga side.
"His contract is up on June 30 and he wouldn't leave Leverkusen until the season is over," Becker told Goal.com.
The source close to Ballack stated that the former Chelsea player's desire to be in America will be on display this summer as the German international has agreed to be one of ESPN's commentators for Euro 2012. He will perform his announcing duties from ESPN's studios in Bristol, CT.
MLS did not respond to emails from Goal.com