Hoeness signals an end to Hargreaves saga

January 7, 2007

BERLIN, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich sporting director Uli Hoeness has said Owen Hargreaves will not be sold to Manchester United in the winter transfer window but hinted the England midfielder might be released at the end of the season.

In an interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper published on Sunday, Hoeness also said Bayern planned to become more aggressive in the transfer market.

'Definitely not in this winter (transfer window),' Hoeness said when asked if he would let Hargreaves go to Manchester.

'We'll have to wait and see about everything else.

'We're working on putting together a new team (for next season) and at some point the question will be raised whether Owen is indispensible. In any event, we've got all the aces.'

Hoeness has previously ruled out a sale, saying Bayern were not a bank and were more concerned about making sure they had their best team for the Champions League.

Hargreaves, who has not played since suffering a broken left fibula on Sept. 17, has repeatedly urged Bayern to sell him to United after the English club made a determined bid to sign him after the World Cup.

On Friday Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer said Bayern should consider selling Hargreaves if the English club were the 30 million euros ($39 million) cited in English media reports.

Hoeness said Bayern could not afford to keep up with Barcelona, Chelsea or United in the transfer market but said they were still planning to become more aggressive.

'If you observe our transfers in the next three months, you'll recognise our strategy,' he said.

'If we are convinced there are three players worth spending 40 million euros on we'll do it,' he said when asked if Bayern would ever be willing to spend 30 million euros for a transfer, about 10 million more than their biggest deal to date.

'Thus, you can say that something has changed. We're thinking bigger if we're convinced it is right.'

Hoeness said he was especially proud he had snatched Alemannia Aachen striker Jan Schlaudraff away from Werder Bremen for next season even though Hoeness said he had been told Schlaudraff was all set to go to Bremen just weeks ago.

'I've rarely worked harder than on a deal,' he said. 'When a transfer of about two to four or even 10 million euros are at stake no one can touch us. It was important to show that.'