Published: 03 March 2017 Friday, 09:34 AM
Bonn, 03 March (deutschenews24.de/dpa)- Cologne will be looking again to goalgetter Anthony Modeste to put a brake on league leaders Bayern Munich in the German football Bundesliga on Saturday.
The French striker scored with an artistic kung-fu style kick to give Cologne a 1-1 draw at Bayern in October, one of the goals this season which have helped Peter Stoeger`s side keep up a challenge for a European berth next season.
Modeste`s 17 strikes in the league puts him just two behind Bayern`s Robert Lewandowski and Borussia Dortmund`s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and have inevitably sparked the interest of other clubs.
German media have reported a 50-million-euro (52.6-million-dollar) offer from Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian, who would more than treble the 28-year-old striker`s salary.
However Modeste likes life in Cologne and after joining in this week`s Rose Monday carnival parade dressed as a jester along with team-mates he tweeted in German and French he would be staying: "Ich bleib in Köln.... je restes à cologne."
"I posted this tweet because so many fans asked whether I would be going or not," he said.
"In this city you have carnival 10 times a year. You always have fun, I like that."
Modeste began his playing career at Nice before moving to Bordeaux, and even had a loan spell in England at Blackburn Rovers before signing for Hoffenheim in 2013. He moved to Cologne two years later and has a contract to 2021.
He now has more than 50 Bundesliga goals, a tally so far not enough to earn him a call up to France`s national team although he was an Under-21 international.
Now he says his main focus is getting Cologne into European competition next season. The Rhinelanders are unbeaten at home, currently seventh and a place from a European berth - their best position at this stage of the season for a quarter of a century.
Of the lure of a big-money move to the lucrative Chinese league, he said: "I can`t say that I would never go there. Now is not the time. I want to stay here and I am happy.
"I can`t leave my team in the middle of the season. That would be incomprehensible for me. We will look in the summer..."
Although Cologne have a relatively good record against Bayern, they have not been able to win in their last seven meetings - and have also not picked up a victory against any of the sides in the top eight of the league.
Stoeger will also be without Germany defender Jonas Hector who is suspended for the first time in his playing career after picking up five yellow cards, but remains confident against the champions.
"We haven`t been beaten at home since April. Especially at home we have the confidence and assurance," he said.
Second-placed RB Leipzig have an opportunity to close the gap to Bayern to two points when they visit Augsburg on Friday evening.
Meanwhile third-placed Borussia Dortmund want to make it three league wins in a row on Saturday when they visit inconsistent Bayer Leverkusen, whose hopes of qualifying for Europe hang in the balance.
Eighth-placed Leverkusen - now facing exit from the Champions League after a 4-2 home defeat to Atletico Madrid in their last-16 first-leg game - cannot afford a defeat if they want to stay in European competition for an eighth straight season.
Elsewhere Saturday, Dutch coach Andries Jonker makes his debut for struggling Wolfsburg at Mainz, fourth-last Werder Bremen host basement side Darmstadt, fourth-placed Hoffenheim greet second-last Ingolstadt, and Borussia Moenechengladbach entertain Schalke.
Sunday sees ailing SV Hamburg at home to fifth-placed Hertha Berlin, while sixth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt face visiting Freiburg.