Little more than a week ago, Franck Ribery said that he would discuss his future with Bayern Munich soon. At all appearances, that conversation has taken place. On the program CHECK24 Doppelpass, club president Uli Hoeness made the announcement for his friend and beloved veteran player: like his battery mate Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery will leave Bayern Munich at the end of this season (Bild).
The club is already planning a spectacular sendoff for the dynamic duo known fondly as “Robbery.” After that, Ribery will eventually settle with his family in Munich and return to Säbener Strasse:
Karl-Heinz [Rummenigge] and Hasan [Salihamidzic] agreed the year with Robben and him. And that’s how it looks it’ll be. We’re discussing a big farewell game. Franck of course wants to play at Bayern until he can’t run anymore. He can still play soccer for one to two years. He’ll later live in Munich and we’ll find a job for him that is worthy of his merits.
Hoeness — who may have once been spotted promising Ribery a contract-extension over coffee at Munich airport — spoke about the special relationship he has with Ribery. It comes down to gratitude:
I have a good relationship with every player, especially with him.... He’s grateful. That’s not a given in this day and age. Franck ist someone who’s there when you need him.
The gratitude Hoeness feels toward players of Ribery’s stature at the club might even outweigh Bayern’s ambition to win the league year after year. Echoing earlier remarks about his aging superstars, Hoeness said some things are more important than titles:
We have two or three players to whom we must be incredible grateful; Robben and Riebry are among them. ... We were prepared to sacrifice the [Bundesliga] championship a year to give the players a sensible farewell. I’ve won more than fifty titles in my life. One title more or less isn’t so important.
As it turns out, Bayern now have a fair shot at winning the Bundesliga anyway. But however the season goes, a spectacular farewell awaits Robben and Ribery. If the sending off Jupp Heynckes received last season or Bastian Schweinsteiger’s stunning testimonial game with the Chicago Fire are anything to go by, Robbery’s tribute will be two of a kind.