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Christian Nerlinger on...

...Ribéry, Kroos, transfers & Leverkusen

Christian Nerlinger has made his maiden appearance on DSF sport TV’s cult Sunday morning Doppelpass panel show. Two days after Bayern’s restart victory over Hoffenheim, the Bayern director of sport was in relaxed mood as he debated questions about Franck Ribéry, following in Uli Hoeneß’s footsteps, Toni Kroos, transfer plans and Bundesliga leaders Leverkusen. presents the highlights of Nerlinger’s statements.

Christian Nerlinger on…

… Franck Ribéry: “Franck had a genuinely serious knee injury. He’s over it now, which is the vital thing. I’m really relaxed about another couple of days lost to a swollen toe. Franck’s the one who’s suffered most from his injury woe. A French doctor wanted him to have surgery, but it’s well known that an operation on a patellar tendon is extremely risky. We persuaded him not to follow that course of action, and Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt and his team have put things right. Our coaching staff are bringing him on very cautiously. Once he’s back, it’ll be a very interesting second half of the season with Rib and Rob. I’m 100 percent convinced we’ll see Franck back on the pitch next Saturday.”

…Ribéry’s future: “Franck came to us once in the summer. He said he felt very much at home in Munich and was grateful to the club, but there was one alternative which he could imagine himself taking. We declined, and the matter was closed internally. Franck has always behaved correctly, and I won’t hear a word said against him in this respect. We won’t put him under pressure. We’ll sit down with him and talk in early March. We’ll set out our position, and he’ll explain his, and we’ll see if we can agree. It matters a lot to me that the process is fair and respectful.”

…succeeding Uli Hoeneß: “Obviously, you don’t switch overnight from Uli Hoeneß to me. It’s a development. I’m going to try and keep Bayern at the top of the game. You can’t duplicate Uli Hoeneß. I’ll try and develop me own style. I get on well with the team and the coach, which matters a lot to me. I’m not planning to be some kind of ringmaster. I have the best possible mentors in Uli Hoeneß, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Karl Hopfner. Bayern has never been a one-man show. The major staffing decisions, relating to players and the coach, are so crucial to the club, its always been a team decision, and that will continue to be the case.”

…Luca Toni’s departure: “There was no problem between Louis van Gaal and Luca Toni. In the forwards, we have first-class options with Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose and Ivica Olic, but Luca still had his chance. He played six or seven times in a row. The situation blew up because he publicly criticised the coach and failed to apologise, and the coach can’t stand for that. So I think it was a good decision to let him leave – for him and for the club. Let’s not forget that Luca was outstanding for us. His first season was superb, he really helped Bayern. We wish him all the best in Rome and hope he makes it to the World Cup.”

…Miroslav Klose: “Miro is really pushing for a place in the team. He made an outstanding impression at our training camp. He’s been held back so far by minor injuries. Miro needs to train the whole time, which makes him physically strong – and then he’s one of the best strikers around. In the difficult period when he wasn’t playing, Miro was exceptionally professional. He was a team player through and through.”

…Toni Kroos, currently out on loan to Leverkusen: “Toni has come on brilliantly with Leverkusen. We still need to sit down and work out where he fits in our team. We need a concept. We’ll do that with everyone involved, the coach, the board and most importantly with the player. But the time for that discussion hasn’t yet arrived.”

…the goalkeeper: “We have no goalkeeping problem at Bayern. I’d be delighted to go into next season with Jörg Butt as our keeper. I’d sit on the bench in a relaxed frame of mind.”

…rumoured interest in Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer: “I’ve spoken to Felix Magath, about Alexander Baumjohann. We had a lovely chat. And then, without me asking him, he told me Manuel Neuer wasn’t for sale. So that’s the end of it.”

…rumoured interest in Stuttgart’s Sami Khedira: “It’s pure speculation. There’s been no contact with the player, his agent or VfB Stuttgart. We basically don’t want to comment on every rumour in the media. Our current team’s coming on really well, and it’ll be hard to find players better than the ones we already have.”

…talented youths Diego Contento, Mehmet Ekici and David Alaba: “All three will definitely play in the Bundesliga, but Bayern is something else entirely. But all three are good enough to make it with us. It’s down to mental factors, whether they’re passionate and strong enough to fight for a chance.”

…leaders Leverkusen: “I basically see Leverkusen as our chief rivals. They’ve been impressive so far, they’re very stable, and they’ll improve again with the three players returning from injury. But that’s risky too, with changes in the team, and what happens when they suffer setbacks. It’ll also be interesting to see how they react as we approach the finishing line.”