Germany left-back Jonas Hector has committed his future to Cologne after removing a release clause from his existing deal with the club, and signing a new contract with the relegation-threatened side.
Sitting bottom of the Bundesliga and eight points from the relegation play-off place with just three regular-season games remaining, Cologne are on the brink of a return to the Bundesliga 2 just one year on from finishing fifth in the 2016/17 season.
And just a day after Cologne came from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw with Schalke, 27-year-old Hector has signed a new deal through to 2023, despite reported interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Liverpool, Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Juventus.
"We had many talks in the past few weeks and I had enough time to think about it," Hector told the Cologne website. "The decision for me is clear: I belong to FC and I want to go into the new season with this team and with these fans."
Hector, who is likely to be the first-choice left-back for Germany at the FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer despite being a second division player, has appeared in 170 first-team matches for Cologne, representing the club since 2010/11, the first three seasons of which were spent playing for the reserve side in the semi-professional Regionalliga West division.
Watch: Hector on his contract extension at Cologne!
"Cologne allowed me to take the path from the regional league (fourth division) to the German national team," Hector continued. "I’m very connected and thankful to this club and feel very comfortable living in Cologne. It would have been no problem for me to switch to another club after this season, but it wouldn't have felt right."
The left-back, who has been capped 36 times by Joachim Löw, played every minute of Germany’s UEFA Euro 2016 campaign and missed just one game in Die Nationallmanschaft’s Confederations Cup-winning campaign in Russia last summer.
Watch: Hector, Germany's most dedicated player