Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery is winding down his career with the club after a legendary spell with the Bavarians. While Ribery may be finalizing his stay with Bayern — although nothing has been made official by either the club nor player — it has been widely assumed that the 35-year-old Frenchman would like to keep playing even if it means extending his career elsewhere.
Enter the Western Sydney Wanderers.
The Wanderers are part of the A-League in Australia and would certainly make an interesting next stop for Ribery. In a report by the Sydney Morning Herald, Wanderers coach Markus Babbel admitted he brought the idea to Ribery in hopes of convincing the player to bring some star power to Australia.
Babbel, of course, was a defender during his playing days and had two different spells with Bayern Munich, amounting to 182 appearances. Babbel was also a Germany international and had 51 caps with the senior team. He said,
Franck Ribery, of course, I was in touch with him. I said “OK, if you want to earn a lot of money then you have to go to Qatar or somewhere. But if you want to be a rock star, then you have to come to Australia.” He hasn’t decided at the moment but I can’t believe that he will come here, because we’re talking about a category that normally for the A-League is not realistic. We also have to go further, and find a team for next season — I can’t wait the next 100 years. If there’s a chance there, you have to try it. But the chance to get someone like that is maybe one per cent.
In addition, the A-League is considering making a play for Arjen Robben as well, which would deal a swift and fatal blow for my grassroots campaign to bring Robben to Philadelphia, along with FC Groningen’s efforts, PSV Eindhoven’s interest or even the since-dismissed rumors that FC Tokyo wants the Dutchman.
The Wanderers are keen on signing a big-name marquee to coincide with their first campaign at Bankwest Stadium — but only if they can find the right player at the right price. ... The Herald understands two ageing Bayern stars, Ribery and Arjen Robben, are on [their list] — and Babbel, who won the Bundesliga three times as a player at the Bavarian club, has already sounded them out through his extensive contacts in Germany.
The A-League knows the financial barriers that it is up against, but is hoping to start to make an impact much in the way that Qatar, China, and even Major League Soccer (MLS) has done in luring European stars to enhance each league’s brand.
The A-League cannot compete salary-wise with the likes of the US, China, Japan and the Middle East for veteran stars such as Ribery. However, as Babbel alluded, the lifestyle factor is Australia’s biggest advantage and can occasionally convince players to accept less money.
Whatever happens, both Ribery and Robben will surely be exploring all options to find the next phase of their respective careers should they decide to continue to play. If anything, the fans of West Sydney Wanderers have the passion for the game that both Ribery and Robben exude every time they take the pitch.