Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer has called for the future of Franck Ribery to be decided one way or another to prevent a long-running soap opera this summer.
The France international has been linked with a host of clubs, including Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United, but Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness has sent out mixed signals by first claiming he was not for sale at any price and then expressing his willingness to speak to new Real president Florentino Perez.
Beckenbauer wants the issue resolved, either by signing Ribery to a new contract or selling him.
"I can see only two solutions: Ribery extends his contract so the issue is dealt with or we release him,'' he said. "I rate Ribery alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and (Lionel) Messi as the best footballers in the world at present,'' he added in the Bild newspaper.
"If he were to leave, it would be the second huge loss for the Bundesliga after Diego. However, if Ribery wants to leave, then it will be hard for us to keep hold of him.''
Nevertheless, Beckenbauer does not believe Bayern's world would fall apart without the 26-year-old.
"So many so-called irreplaceable players have gone yet football has still moved on,'' he said. "Obviously it would be a shame, though, and it is hard to imagine Bayern being better without Ribery.''
Real are believed to be preparing a bid which would tempt Bayern's new Dutch coach Louis van Gaal by offering his two compatriots Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder offered together with a sizeable sum for a man who, according to Hoeness, has just one of his legs valued at €50m.
Ribery is unsure where his future lies.
"I will see how my situation is going to develop. Honestly, I don't know - my situation isn't easy to deal with,'' the former Marseille winger said.
"I am under contract until 2011 with Bayern, I am fine over there. I'm not someone who likes to clash - I have spent two good years at Bayern. We will see how everything turns out.''
Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness has sent out mixed signals by first claiming Ribery was not for sale at any price, then expressing his willingness to speak to Perez.