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Hamit Altintop

‘I’m sure I’ll play more often this term’

Hamit Altintop started the opening match of last season in Hoffenheim, and was in the first team for the Champions League final, but the Turkey international finished with only 25 appearances for the season, more than half as a sub. Nevertheless, the 27-year-old still opted in June to extend his stay in Munich for another year. spoke to the midfield utility man a couple of days before the start of pre-season training, asking him why he has chosen to stay, and why he thinks the new season could be better for him than last term. Hamit, when Mark van Bommel extended his contract a couple of years ago, he said it would have been hard to make a decision against Bayern. Was it the same for you?
Hamit Altintop: You have to recognise just how big this club is, the superb conditions here, and the great people, including the decision-makers. So you do think twice about giving it up. The package is right at Bayern. We have a great team, which is still young and can get even better. There are big things happening here, and I want to be part of it.

You only made seven Bundesliga starts last season, and finished with 15 league appearances in total.
Yes, that’s a lot less than I’d like. I played at the start, then hardly at all for four months, and then again at the end, which showed me there’s faith in my ability.

Did you speak to Louis van Gaal before deciding to stay?
Of course. I’m delighted he’s so open and direct, which makes working here so easy. I know what could happen: it could be just like last season, when I was very pleased with the team, but not with my playing time.

Are you convinced you’ll play more often this term?
The players who ended last season as regulars would normally have a slight advantage. But some simply hit form at the right time, so why shouldn’t I? And it’s definitely not a disadvantage to be here at the start of training. Who knows when the World Cup guys will be back, and what shape they’ll be in, physically and mentally. I’m convinced I’ll play more often.

Which position gives you the biggest chance?
I’m flexible, which is one of my strengths. I can basically play anywhere in midfield, on the flanks or in the centre. I have to give it my best shot, and show the coach he shouldn’t be ignoring me.