MUNICH - Just like Germany stars Lukas Podolski, Jan Schlaudraff and Marcell Jansen before him, talented teenager Toni Kroos has become the latest star to opt out of Bayern Munich.
"For a young player, to play is most important and it is something which was only proposed to me on occasion at Bayern," said Kroos, voted the best player at the Under-19 World Cup in 2007.
Kroos, 19, signed an 18-month loan deal with Bayer Leverkusen last week having made just seven league appearances for Bayern this season.
It remains to be seen whether he ever returns to Bayern and he is not the only rising German star to leave the Bavarian giants in frustration at a lack of first-team chances.
Podolski, voted the best young player at the 2006 World Cup, also shone for the national team during Euro 2008, despite spending virtually all of last season among the reserves, but his torture will end.
Next season, he returns to Cologne - even if they are relegated - from where he broke into the Germany side before his ill-fated switch to Bayern in 2006.
Barred by more experienced and expensive players like Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni, who both command higher salaries, Kroos and Podolski are not the only examples of promising players who failed to make the grade at Bayern.
Having impressed with Aachen, Jan Schlaudraff played only eight matches in the Bayern shirt before joining Hanover last summer.
His time on the bench in Munich cost him his place in the Germany squad.
And Euro 2008 finalist Marcell Jansen lasted only a season in Bayern before heading to Hamburg.
"Of course, it is extremely difficult for talented young players to exert themselves in the team," Jansen told the Bild newspaper.
"In each position there is already a genuine world star in resident. If you get your chance, you must take it with cold-blooded precision, without a single negative thought.
"Young players don't have this unscrupulousness and if you don't take your first chance you have a long wait for the second one - if it comes at all."
When Bayern failed to qualify for the Champions League in 2007, they flexed their considerable financial muscle with a ß70 million spending spree to recruit the likes of Klose, Toni and French midfielder Franck Ribery.
"Our philosophy rests on two pillars, one with the likes of foreign players like Ribery and Toni, which has guaranteed our success, the other with players who are home-grown," said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
And while he quotes the names of nurtured stars Michael Rensing, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm, even glittering performances with Germany do not guarantee a place in Bayern's first team. - Sapa-AFP