Last season's treble wining performance was glorious for Bayern Munich. The first ever completed for by a German team. One where Bayern only lost 3 matches in the entirety of the season. While it was all sunshine and rainbows for many players and for the fans; some players were less than pleased with Bayern under Jupp Heynckes. To be fair, the 68 year old German had a very rigid starting eleven that was tough to crack and hardly used his reserves until after the Bundesliga was already won. That situation would make any depth player cranky to say the least. Enter Rafinha stage right.
The 28-year old Brazilian took to BILD today to comment on the situation he faced under Heynckes:
"Für einen Trainer ist es immer kompliziert. Heynckes hatte viele gute Spieler auf der Bank, natürlich wäre es für uns Ersatzspieler besser gewesen, wenn er diese Bank mehr genutzt hätte" ....
"Es war manchmal wirklich schwer, sich zu motivieren. Auf der Bank habe ich immer versucht, gut drauf zu sein – aber wenn ich danach nach Hause gefahren bin, war ich oft sauer und hatte schlechte Laune. Ich hatte den Ärger in mir, wollte damit aber nicht das Klima im Team schlecht machen
Translation (Google Translate):
Heynckes had many good players on the bench, of course it would have been better replacement player for us if he had used the bank more....
At the bank I've always tried to be sad - but if I'm then drove home, I was often angry and had a bad temper.I had anger in me, but did not mean to make the climate in the team badly. "
Understandably players want to play, and not seeing the pitch competitively on anything approaching a consistent basis has to be maddening and infuriating. From that perspective, Rafinha's attitude is completely justified. However, knowing his place on the team, Rafinha kept his mouth closed and bore his dissatisfaction. It's a rare thing to see these days, but not a rare thing for Bayern Munich players in the last few seasons. It speaks to the professional ethos to which this particular group has committed themselves. A few seasons ago, it would have been splashed across the tabloids with near immediacy.
However, every player has a breaking point. At what point does Rafinha want more from his career? At what point does he continually seek first team minutes? Pep Guardiola may just be the coach to get the most out of the Brazilian though. Guardiola has shown a penchant for heavy squad rotation already this season. That may be just what the doctor ordered for Rafinha. But the elephant in the room on that account is how much of that has been necessitated by the injury bug this season. Rafinha has most likely been the starting right back solely because of the extensive midfield injuries which have forced Phillip Lahm into midfield - a situation that will likely soon be changing.
Pep Guardiola has made it clear that when this squad is healthy Phillip Lahm will be his right back. He has no long term plans to move the captain from a position where he is the world's best to a position where he's only one of the world's best. Given the fact that you have to go all the way back to 2005 to find a time when Phillip Lahm was injured for more than a few days and that in all the intervening years he's only sat a relative handful of games, the likelihood of Rafinha seeing the pitch once this squad is fully fit looks remote. For a player like Rafinha who has bitten of the apple this season to be relegated back to bench to play very sparingly- a role he chaffed at in the past - to again be relegated to riding shotgun beside a player who only rarely misses a game - is likely going to be a hard pill to swallow. Given that the Brazilian's contract is up at the end of this season, i'd expect to hear some rumblings of movement with regards to Rafinha either this winter or going into next summer.