Germany captain Ballack, who will miss the World Cup after damaging ankle ligaments in the FA Cup final, will be a free agent when his Chelsea contract expires at the end of the month.
He claims to have "some options" in his homeland but both Bremen and former club Leverkusen believe his wage demands would price them out.
Bremen's general manager Klaus Allofs told Kicker: "Although it would be nice it is an illusion."
Ballack played for Leverkusen from 1999 to 2002 but business manager Wolfgang Holzhauser is another who believes the 33-year-old is out of range.
He added: "The relationship between Bayer and Michael Ballack was always special and we were an important step in his career.
"A question is whether we could afford such a move now.
"We have not had any talks on the issue as yet but I must say I have my doubts."
The most obvious candidates for the midfielder's signature are Bayern Munich, who Ballack left for Stamford Bridge in 2006, and Wolfsburg.
Bayern have the financial muscle while Wolfsburg, backed by automotive giants Volkswagen, could also make a move.