This time last year, Bayern Munich general manager Uli Hoeness announced that the club faced a “brutal struggle” to keep hold of Franck Ribery. One year on, and having conquered that first struggle, the German giants now face an almost impossible task of doing so again.
The French winger is the most in demand player in Europe and has been linked with moves to Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool to name just a few.
The Champions League draw may not have favoured Bayern but it will provide Ribery with the perfect opportunity to prove himself against top opposition. Ribery is on course to be fit for the clash with Manchester United next Tuesday following an ankle injury.
Recent contract talks between the club and player have stalled and the French international has told the club to wait until the end of the season to consider any further negotiations. It seems he is keen on a move away from Munich but is keeping his options open should prospective suitors be priced out by Bayern.
United may see it as an easy route to the final but this is the Champions League and they will face a Bayern side who are top of their domestic league, in the semi-finals of the cup and of course the quater-finals of Europe. Under Louis Van Gaal they are a team reformed. It will be Ribery and Robben who the Dutchman looks too to put the sword to United. United midfielder Darren Fletcher has already highlighted the two tricky wingers as the danger men saying;
“In Robben and Ribéry they have two of the best wingers in world football,”
A very true statement based on the resurgence of Robben and it is the former Chelsea winger has may have already swayed his team-mates decision this summer. Robben, clearly still seething at the way he was turfed out of Real Madrid, has advised his team-mate to join Los Blancos rivals Barcelona instead. As reported in the Daily Mail, Robben said; “If Franck does not renew his contract he should go to Barcelona. In Madrid there is a climate that is not right for him” Not likely that Real will be interested in the Dutchman ever again even if he continues to perform as he has been.
None the less, when Bayern visit Old Trafford, all eyes will be on one little player. Ribery will have the World’s attention. Injury has permitted him to just 12 games in the league this season but he has totalled up 3 goals and 4 assists in that time. Having spent time at Metz, Galatasaray and Marseille, Ribery has avoided the big leagues. Even at Bayern he is still outside the ‘top’ European two. He may be valued by Bayern at over 50million but it will be down to him and his two feet to prove that amount. Should he do so then Bayern will have to barricade to club doors to stop him leaving. In fact, even that may not be enough.