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Ribéry as playmaker

Hoeneß: A very interesting experiment

On Wednesday, Franck Ribéry lapped the Bayern practice ground on his own, but the France star will be back in the thick of things very soon. As soon as he has shaken off a groin strain, the plan is for him to assume the playmaking duties in an attacking midfield role for his club, as Louis van Gaal has confirmed. “It means he has more options, he’s closer to goal, closer to the strikers, and he can thrust to either side – not always cutting in from the left, which is becoming easy for defenders to predict,” the newly-arrived head coach explained. So much for the theory; how it works out in practice is a question only time can answer.

“We’ll have to see how it works out with Franck in a central role over the longer term. It’s a crucial question and impacts the way the team develops,” Uli Hoeneß is quoted as saying in this week’s Sport Bild magazine. “If it works, I’ll be very optimistic. Many people don’t see Franck as a playmaker. I’m of the opinion that it’s a very interesting experiment.”

Like Maradona, Pelé & Co

In the classic ‘number 10’ role, Ribéry could soon be emulating the greatest of the footballing greats, Hoeneß believes. “Franck will always be a fine player out on the left wing, but not a true great. The greats always play through the middle,” the FCB general manager said, citing Diego Maradona, Pelé, Johan Cruyff and Zinedine Zidane as his examples. “Franck could make it into this category. That would even take him ahead of the Lionel Messis or Cristiano Ronaldos. It’s his big chance, and it’s here and now at Bayern.”