It turned heads when Franck Ribery extended his contract with Bayern Munich through the 2018/19 season. He will turn 36 before the contract ends and plays one of the most physically demanding positions on the pitch. With the coming of age success story of fellow countryman Kingsley Coman, it seemed almost a done deal that Ribery would move on to another club maybe in another league. Ribery has other ideas for his swan song in Munich.
In Bayern’s latest loss to Juventus, a detail that might have gone unnoticed was that Ribery wore the captain’s armband for the first half until he was subbed off. It might not seem like a big deal being that it was a meaningless preseason match in a meaningless American city, but to Ribery, every game is the most important on earth. That kind of attitude is one that he is looking to impress upon with the younger players as Bayern embark on their quest to claim the elusive Champions League crown.
Ribery has already embraced the “big brother” mantra for the younger guys on the squad, and his friendship with David Alaba is already Instagram famous, but this offseason he is focusing more on being a leader in the locker room and on the field than just a guy to play pranks with.
For this contract extension to be considered a good decision by the team’s upper management, it would require a sort of “buy-in” from the elder statesman of Bayern Munich. An understanding that he would probably not be a regular first team starter week in, week out is key. The fact that the 11-year veteran has gone all in with his new role off the pitch shows that maybe extending him wasn’t such a crazy idea after all.