Robben Locked Up Until 2017
After leaving the training pitch early on Tuesday, Arjen Robben signed a contract to remain with Bayern Munich until 2017, a two year extension on to his current deal. The long awaited renewal has now become official, per FC Bayern press release:
"I’m delighted we’ve now signed the new contract and I’ll continue pursuing trophies with FC Bayern," the Netherlands international commented. "I’m now in my fifth season in Munich and there will be three more after this. There can be no better indication of how happy my family and I feel to be here and how much I enjoy playing for this club and with this team. I’m looking forward to the years ahead – and to plenty more trophies with FC Bayern."
"We’re extremely pleased Arjen has extended his contract with us until 2017," commented FC Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "Arjen is a magnificent player. He’s proved his worth to FC Bayern and not just in the Champions League Final at Wembley. Arjen is a fundamentally important member of the team and will now remain so for the years to come."
Injuries have tempered Robben's fifth season at the club, but even so he is one of Guardiola's top choices. He has scored 18 goals in 31 appearances in all competitions, and his 10 league goals is third behind Mario Mandžukić and Thomas Müller.
With Robben's Extension, only seven players on the squad are not committed beyond 2015, with only one, Toni Kroos, having played more first-team minutes than Robben.
Real Madrid have contacted Mandžukić's Agents
With the rumor mill always churning, the latest out of Spain is that Real Madrid have contacted Mario Mandžukić's and Ilkay Gündogan's agents:
Real Madrid have contacted Mario Mandzukic's agents and Ilkay Gundogan's agents along last week according to Sky Italy— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) March 18, 2014
Long-time FIFA agent François Gallardo affirmed back in September that Real Madrid could offer between €35 million and €40 million. Both Mandžukić and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge have expressed a desire for an extended stay for the Croatian.
After a stellar first season in Munich a year ago, Mandžukić has already surpassed his goal tally from a year ago with 23 goals in all competition.
Arsenal are reportedly considering Mandžukić an alternative to Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata, while Juventus are still taking the pulse of the situation.
Guardiola Talks About Barça Exit
In an interview with Audi Annual Report, Pep Guardiola gave an explanation of sorts as to one of the reasons why he left his hometown club, Barcelona:
Seeing Barcelona go out against Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final in 2012 was such a moment. We were much better than our opponents, but then conceded an unnecessary goal in the return leg, and before we knew it we were out of the competition. That was a really tough defeat for me. I felt like I could no longer reach my team.
If you can no longer reach your players, as a coach, the time has come to move on.
Guardiola managed five seasons in the Barcelona system, first promoting Barcelona B to the Segunda División and then collecting 14 trophies in four seasons with the Blaugrana. He also played seven seasons in red and blue, coming through the Barcelona academy system.
With Chelsea securing a 3-1 aggregate victory over Galatasaray on Tuesday, the Quarterfinals draw could pit Guardiola against Chelsea for a second time in the Champions league, an intriguing narrative for countless reasons.
Bayern II's Grill to Move to Sweden
Lucas Grill, a 21-year-old German defender with the Bayern reserves, has agreed to move to Mjällby AIF of the Swedish first division.
Grill has made 16 appearances with the reserves over his three-year stint, and most of his minutes came last season. He has not taken the field under manager Erik ten Haag, although the reserve boss has named him to the team sheet five times.
"We wish Lucas all the best on his future path in sports," said academy director Michael Tarnat.