Karim Bellarabi staying at Bayer Leverkusen, Stefan Kiessling commits
Germany international Karim Bellarabi has pledged his allegiance to Bayer Leverkusen and will not activate his release clause.
Last week, local newspaper Express linked Bellarabi with a switch to Serie A club Inter Milan, and English clubs had also reportedly been interested in the Berlin-born winger, who is under contract at Bayer until 2020.
"It's true that I had interesting enquiries from Premier League and also from Spain," Bellarabi, who broke through into Bayer's senior squad following a loan at Eintracht Braunschweig in the 2013-14 season, told the club's official website.
"But we have built something great here in the past years, something I have personally been involved in. And I am of the opinion that we are only at the beginning. I have full trust in our coach Roger Schmidt and want to make the next step with him and our team. That's why I will definitely play for Bayer in the next season."
Kicker reports that Bellarabi continues to have a €25 million release clause in his contract, which can be triggered until April 30, 2017.
The Germany international has recently returned to form and has been involved in eight goals in the last six matches, of which Leverkusen have won five.
Meanwhile, Stefan Kiessling, 32, has prolonged his contract until 2018, and has an option for another year.
By the end of his new deal, the forward, who has played for Bayer since 2006, will be 34 or 35 and he has already been offered an official role at the club after his retirement.
"He is just part of Bayer 04," CEO Michael Schade told the club's official website, and sporting director Rudi Voller added: "He's an incredibly important player for us, both on and off the pitch. In a team as young as our you can't rate his leadership skills and experience highly enough."
Kiessling has played in 312 Bundesliga games for Leverkusen, scoring 126 goals and assisting a further 55. For his old club Nurnberg he has added another 15 goals, two of them in the second tier, and eight assists in 73 league games.
With 139 goals the former Germany international ranks 16th in the all-time Bundesliga scorer list, and of all current league players only Bremen's Claudio Pizarro has played in more Bundesliga matches.
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.