Hansi Flick believes David Alaba has been as impressive this season as he was in Bayern Munich's treble-winning campaign and remains hopeful the defender will stay in Bavaria.
Alaba's Bayern contract expires at the end of 2020-21 and tense negotiations over a renewal have prompted a public spat between his father and board member Uli Hoeness.
George Alaba reacted furiously to Hoeness' insinuation his son was only interested in money and accused him of "spreading dirty lies".
The Austria international is consequently said to be a target for a number of top clubs, with Bayern facing the possibility of losing another key member of last year's successful side after Thiago Alcantara joined Liverpool.
But coach Flick is still optimistic and says the speculation has not impacted Alaba's on-field performances. He has made seven starts in all competitions.
"Against [Arminia] Bielefeld, Atletico [Madrid] and Eintracht [Frankfurt], Alaba is doing a good job," Flick told a news conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Cologne.
"I feel he's the same as last season, very focused, loud on the pitch, one of the players who leads our defence. For me, there's no difference between now and last season.
"I'm not concerning myself with [worries about a January transfer] at all right now.
"I still hope he'll sign with Bayern because I think he knows what the situation is like here in Munich.
"It's a lot of fun to train with a team with a good atmosphere here, we play successful football and this club is one of the best in the world.
"The conditions are top for every player right now and I think he'll think twice about changing that.
"It's his decision - and we have to respect that, obviously - but I hope he will stay. He has to decide, my feeling is irrelevant."
Alaba has won just 40 per cent of his tackles and 50 per cent of his duels across his four Bundesliga starts in 2020-21, but he is averaging two clearances and two interceptions per 90 minutes.
In the top flight last season he was successful with 56.7 per cent of his tackles and 54.6 per cent of his duels, while he averaged one interception and 1.2 blocks per 90 minutes.
Flick has three options at centre-back, with Alaba starting four times alongside Niklas Sule and three times with Jerome Boateng in all competitions.
The coach suggested Alaba and Boateng as a pair are "maybe ahead because they're matched a bit together" due to Sule's anterior cruciate ligament injury last season.
But the Cologne game is the second of four consecutive away fixtures and Flick may have to rotate his team.
"It's the way it is," he said. "I would've preferred to have a home game in between but we accept the situation.
"We will try to distribute the strain. I'm not going to tell you how we'll do it, but we accept all these trips.
"We flew into Moscow and flew out, to get back to Munich quickly. We have to accept it and try to win the three points everywhere."