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Mr Consistency

Prodigal son Zé Roberto ‘very pleased so far’

Since his return to Bayern last summer, Zé Roberto has been an ever-present for Bayern, with the single exception of the 2-2 UEFA Cup draw against Bolton Wanderers. The Brazilian ace has appeared in all the remaining 27 competitive matches, a figure only matched by his fellow defensive midfielder Mark van Bommel.

“Overall, I’m very pleased with my performances so far,” the 33-year-old told respected weekly journal kicker. Since the 2006 World Cup, the winger turned enforcer feels he has hit “peak form,” but he is determined “to improve even further and score more goals“ across the rest of the season. Zé has added his name to the scoresheet twice this term.

Transformed in midfield

However, his primary task as a holding midfielder is preventing goals. Bayern’s record of just nine goals against in 18 league fixtures is testimony to the ability of the former winger, who has thrived since his conversion to the centre of the field. During his single-season break from Munich, the 1998 World Cup runner-up did operate in the centre for Santos, but more as a playmaker.

“I had the best season of my career at Santos. I was given a free role, it was my best position, and I was immensely happy,” reported Zé, although he has “no problem” with his duties at Bayern, which he also filled for his country. “We’re an attacking side, so I provide a platform at the back.“

Future undecided

The player is contracted to Bayern until 2009, when he is likely to leave Munich. “It’s too early to be definite about 2009,” Zé commented ahead of Thursday training, but he is already mulling a number of offers, including reported interest from the MLS in the USA. However, another European club has not been ruled out, Zé added.

“But for now, I’m fully focused on my job and earning success,” he reassured, “I’m very happy at Bayern. I’ve learned a lot and won trophies.“ Victory over Werder Bremen on Sunday would represent a giant stride towards further honours. “It’s a must-win match. We need the three points to avoid turbulence and allow us to continue working in peace.“