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Christoph Kramer transfer to Napoli still on, Italian papers insist

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Italian papers have essentially denied the denial issued by the midfielder's agent on Thursday. Yes, we're confused too.

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On Wednesday, the Italian media indicated that Napoli were about to seal a transfer deal with Bayer Leverkusen for Christoph Kramer, with Cristiano Giuntoli about to head to Germany to finish it up. On Thursday, German media responded by saying that's a bunch of crap and Napoli haven't even talked to Kramer. Now it's Friday, and the Italian media is saying "nope, nuh uh, we were right and the deal is still on."

The specific phrasing being used, mainly by Sky Sport Italia, is that the denials issued are just "routine" and part of the negotiation shell game. There's a certain amount of truth to that, in that a blanket denial like the one that was issued aren't at all uncommon in bigger transfers. Of course, blanket denials are also common when there is, in fact, no truth to the rumors at hand.

It's difficult to tell how this particular situation stands. Neither side of this media "battle" have a particularly reputable track record -- the Italian media is long known to exaggerate situations, especially around transfer rumors, and the fact that the German reports are spearheaded by Kicker puts a bit of a pall on their credibility.

One side insists that Kramer has indicated that he wants to move to Napoli and that Giuntoli will soon be in Leverkusen to finish negotiations; the other insists that he's not remotely interested and that there's really nothing to see here. There's not much of a middle ground to fall into with the way the lines have been drawn -- and that's part of the problem. When a situation like this looks so black or white, it's hard to find the shades of gray we usually land in.

Looking at this from Kramer's perspective, it's most likely that he'd rather stay put for now. At Leverkusen, he's an important part of a very good team, forming a formidable midfield group with Kevin Kampl and Lars Bender, and is third among outfield players in minutes played. They nearly made the Champions League knockout rounds and will be one of the favorites to finish in the top four of the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. At Napoli, he'd be the fourth man in a well-established three man midfield, essentially taking a step back in his career instead of pushing forward as he'd almost certainly prefer.

It still seems like an extreme longshot that Napoli wind up with Kramer, but it seems that, just maybe, the door isn't completely closed just yet. Only one thing is for certain: we're far from hearing the last about this particular rumor.