Borussia Dortmund have said Mats Hummels could still be at the club next season despite admitting that he wants to join Bayern Munich.
Hummels, 27, has just over a year remaining on his contract and rumours of a potential return to the Allianz Arena had been reported in the German media ever since a TV interview following Borussia's 3-0 DFB Pokal win at Hertha.
Dortmund, as the only German club listed on the stock exchange, were obliged to confirm the rumours in an official club statement on Thursday evening.
However, the club made Robert Lewandowski see out the final year of his contract before joining Bayern in 2014 and sporting director Michael Zorc recently said they would not rule out a repeat.
Thursday's statement also stressed that Hummels "is under contract until 2017" and that Bayern have not made an offer for the Germany international, who joined BVB from Munich as a 19-year-old in 2008, and CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has again hinted that he could be forced to stay.
"With our statement today, it is not said that Mats will not continue to play in our jersey next year," Watzke told Suddeutsche Zeitung.
He added that "Mats always acted correctly in this matter" and appealed to the club's supporters to "continue to treat him fairly" when he takes to the pitch in Saturday's Bundesliga match against Wolfsburg at the Westfalenstadion.
Suddeutsche reported that Borussia are looking at a transfer fee in the region of €40 million for Hummels, which would be the highest ever fee paid for a player in Germany with only one year left on his deal.
German tabloid Bild said BVB want at least €38m, while reputable football magazine kicker said that, with talks expected to be "long and difficult," it is possible Hummels could remain with the club for a further year.
Should a transfer take place, Hummels would be the third Dortmund player to move to Bayern in recent years after they triggered Mario Gotze's release clause in 2013 and then signed Lewandowski on a Bosman transfer in 2014.
Dortmund have already confirmed their interest in re-signing Gotze, but the Suddeutsche report said they do not want Hummels to be part of a swap deal and would prefer to sign their former midfielder on a free transfer when his contract expires in 2017.
Gotze's prospective return to Dortmund has already brought protests from supporters, with many not having forgiven the Germany international for his exit, which was announced one day prior to the home leg of BVB's Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid.
Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has said there will not be any decision on Gotze, who has also been strongly linked with Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, until the end of the season.