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Toni Kroos praises his development under Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich

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Kroos believes his game grew with Guardiola’s help

Bayern Muenchen v VfB Stuttgart - Bundesliga Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

Toni Kroos revealed that he believes his game was taken to another level during his only season under Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich in 2013-14 before he made his €30m move to Real Madrid. During Kroos’ last season, Bayern secured the domestic double and made it to the semifinals of the Champions League, but were knocked out by Real Madrid.

In an interview with the German Football Federation’s official website (via Goal.com), Kroos also praised former Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes:

I look at my career in phases: Jupp was the most important coach in the early stages of my career, both at Leverkusen [during a loan spell] and then in Munich as well.

While it was Heynckes that gave Kroos his breakthrough to Bayern’s senior squad in the 2011-2012 season, the midfielder attributed a great deal of his most crucial developments to Guardiola during the 2013-2014 season:

I wouldn’t undervalue my year under Pep Guardiola because I think I made a big step forward in that year. Pep Guardiola saw me as a central player in his system, which my style of play fit into perfectly.

Most often deployed in a slightly holding central midfield role under Guardiola, Kroos' contributions spiked noticeably as he utilized his strong skillset: incredible vision, accurate distribution, and accurate finishing from distance. It was clear that Guardiola had found a system that made Bayern's midfield tick, and Kroos was at the center of it.

Stefan Reinartz, a former German international teammate of Kroos, revealed back in September that Guardiola did everything in his power to try and get Kroos to stay at Bayern following the 2013-2014 season. Reinartz said that it was Karl-Heinz Rummenigge's valuation of Kroos that ultimately led to the midfielder leaving for Real Madrid in 2014 — Rummennige didn't want to pay Kroos any more than €10 million a year because he felt that he wasn't yet a world class player.

Ironically enough, Kroos also made mention of his smooth transition to Real Madrid under then manager Carlo Ancelotti, whom Bayern Munich just axed last week:

In my eyes, my transfer [to Real Madrid] came at just the right time. When you move to a top team abroad and assert your position in the team, you’ve made another step forwards. It went pretty smoothly for me. Carlo Ancelotti wanted me in Madrid; he was counting on me. It’s important to get a good start at a top club like Real. When things are going badly, you can overcome it quickly at a top club.

It's also worth mentioning that Kroos' goals and assists tally increased the season after Ancelotti left for Bayern and Zinedine Zidane took over at Madrid. In the 2016-2017 season, he recorded four goals and 13 assists in all major competitions (La Liga and Champions League), a considerably stronger tally than his one goal and 11 assists from the previous season under Ancelotti.