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Sport Bild Report:
Leverkusen and Stuttgart line up as suitors for Köln prospect Diehl

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

According to Germany's main sporting tabloid, links are beginning to surface in what promises to be a fierce winter transfer window race for young 1. FC Köln striker Justin Diehl. 
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FC Köln trainer Steffen Baumgart found himself answering more questions than he might have cared for with respect to 18-year-old striker Justin Diehl at club pressers this week. The teenage talent has netted 11 goals in 17 games for FC Köln II in the Regionalliga thus far this season.

Over the summer, the homegrown striker resisted efforts from his hometown club to extend his current contract. The 18-year-old clearly wishes to test the market in the coming January transfer window. Baumgart, for his part, made no apologies for not giving Diehl a shot with the senior squad.

"Why do I have to apologise for not including him?" the Effzeh trainer rhetorically asked, "I would like to have him in my team and train him to become a Bundesliga player. But not for six months. I'd rather take care of Max Finkgräfe, Damoin Downs and Meiko Wäschenbach, who clearly say that their home is at this location, in this club, in this city."

"He sent us a clear signal that he doesn't wish to continue working with us," Baumgart continued, "The questions then become, 'why don't you want to work with us?', 'why are you turning us down?'. We've given him more than ample opportunity to join us. He has a high standing with us. He has to want it."

Diehl maintains an estimated market worth of €500,000 in the latest transfermarkt listings. Courtesy of his expiring contract, other clubs may begin negotiations to acquire him on a free come January. Germany's main sporting tabloid reports that both VfB Stuttgart and Bayer 04 Leverkusen are interested.

Leverkusen have garnered quite the reputation for plucking players from the ranks of their less affluent near neighbors. Germany's red company team famously lured Florian Wirtz away from the Köln academy for a mere €200,000 back in the January 2020 transfer window.

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