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Happy to be back at Bayern, Douglas Costa says he can understand Uli Hoeness

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Douglas Costa has no hard feelings toward Uli Hoeness. “I would have said the same thing about me,” he says.

FC Bayern Muenchen Training Session Photo by S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images

Douglas Costa is no stranger to Bayern Munich. The Brazilian winger made his European breakthrough at Bayern after transferring from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2015. Costa played just two seasons at Bayern then and left on loan to Juventus Turin in 2017, with two years left on his contract. Juve paid Bayern €40 million to finalize the transfer in 2018.

And now he’s back! “I had wanted to come back to Munich for some time,” Costa told Sport Bild (Wednesday print edition). “I felt totally comfortable there. I’m very happy to be here again,” he said.

At the time of his departure, Costa was itching for more playing time while Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery just kept going and going. While those two legends may be gone, Costa has many friends still on the team.

“Over the years, the players were my friends and contacts in Munich despite the distance,” Costa said. “It makes me happy that these guyls like me and the way I play soccer: people like Manuel Neuer, Jérôme Boateng, Thomas Müller, Joshua Kimmich. I never lost touch with them; there was always a lively exchange.”

After Juventus was knocked out of the Champions League last season, Costa knew who he supported: “I was a Bayern fan from the quarterfinals on. I wanted them to win this cup. Now I want to repeat it as part of FC Bayern and win many many titles, especially the Champions League,” he said.

Costa brushed away Sport Bild’s leading question about playing time on a roster that now features Leroy Sané and Serge Gnabry in addition to his erstwhile teammate Kingsley Coman: “The question of who is a starter and bench player is overrated in my opinion,” Costa said. “All the players will be unbelievably important to the club; everyone will get his playing time,” he said.

Then Bayern president Uli Hoeness famously called Costa a “mercenary” and publicly alleged that Costa “acted exactly like [Ousmane] Dembélé. After the shortest amount of time, although his performances were not that good, he wanted to have more money. We let him go on Bayern Munich’s terms.”

Costa has no hard feelings for Hoeness, however. “I have the profoundest respect for Uli Hoeness. He played a major part in my first transfer to Munich. He brought me from the Ukraine to a top club, made it possible for me to come onto this stage. I will never forget that about him,” he said. Costa moreover can understand Hoeness’s reaction: “It’s logical that as president at the time he represented the interests of the club. I have no problem with that. I know that Hoeness fights like a lion for his FC Bayern.”

Furthermore, Costa said, “I think Uli Hoeness’s reaction after my departure is understandable: the club lost a player who was important. In Hoeness’s eyes, I was only interested in money. I would have said the same thing about me in Hoeness’s shoes.”

But Costa denies that he left purely for money. “I had other offers, but Juventus is an absolute top club that is one of the best in Europe. I wanted to win the Champions League there,” he said.

Costa garnered no small amount of attention for his antics on the pitch while with Bayern. He won’t rule out more fun now that he’s back — and we already had a taste with his hilarious effort to support the wall against Arminia Bielefeld:

Costa added, “The team and the coach’s instructions take priority, but I’m a dribbler: the spectacle on the pitch makes me happy!”

Finally, of course, Sport Bild asked Costa whether Cristiano Ronaldo was the best teammate in his career. His answer:

“I have had the luck and privilege of playing with brilliant players: Neymar on the [Brazilian] national team, Ronaldo at Juventus. With Robert Lewandowski, now the best in Europe is on my team!” he said. “If you look only at the numbers, though,” Costa continued, “Cristiano over his whole career seems to be on a level of his own.”