The Sunday edition of Bild contained a surprise for Bayern Munich: a full-length telephone interview with Manuel Neuer and his agent Thomas Kroth. Kroth prefaced the discussion with the following explanation: “We normally never say anything about ongoing contract negotiations, but we currently have the impression that a picture of Manuel Neuer is being drawn in public that is simply wrong.”
Hansi Flick the last domino
The impression in question is namely that Neuer is wrong to make demands of Bayern in the middle of the coronavirus epidemic. Kroth explained the timing of the negotiations as a consequence of Bayern’s recent decision to extend Hansi Flick. “There already were signals in the winter that the club would like to extend and was ready for talks.” Then, of course, it remained unclear who would coach Bayern in the coming years.
Neuer explained why he felt that the extension of coach Hansi Flick encouraged his own interest in extending with Bayern:
With the contract extension of Hansi Flick early in the year, a decision that made me very happy was made. Hansi is a super coach. The way he handles the players, how we play soccer, and also the atmosphere in the team under him — all that convinced me very much, and so his contract extension was also a signal for me.
Trust and appreciation — what Neuer wants from Bayern Munich
Bild asked Neuer directly what he wants. His answer:
I’d like to play as long as I am fit. But above all I’d like to feel trust; that is the most important thing for me. It’s completely clear to me that it’s unrealistic to nail the club down to a five-year contract as has supposedly been proposed. At 34 years old, I can’t predict how I’ll feel at 39. Hence the finality that has been publicly alleged makes no sense at all.
Thomas Kroth directly denied both the reported duration and salary of the contract that has been rumored — namely, a five-year contract with an annual salary of roughly €20 million. Kroth said, “Both these numbers are simply false. I can honestly say that we have always been flexible with respect to the duration in our conversations with Hasan Salihamidzic and Oliver Kahn.”
Neuer emphasized that he wants a contract with Bayern that would be a “win-win situation with which everyone is happy”:
I want to deliver my performances, be there for the team, and give everything so that we have the maximum success — with 100 percent passion. For that, the conditions have to be right. That’s what’s at stake right now.
Kroth replied when Bild asked whether Neuer’s salary at Bayern was one of those conditions. He said,
The topic of the salary can’t be reduced to a single number but is significantly more complex. There are different models in which both the duration and the wages are flexible and which also take the current coronavirus crisis into account. But Manuel is interested above all in one thing: appreciation!
“That’s right,” Neuer said. Kroth emphasized that Neuer is the “world’s best goalkeeper,” captain at Bayern and Germany, and also “does many things around the team that do it good.”
“That irritates me”: Neuer angered by leaks at the top
Neuer followed up by insisting he does and always has felt appreciated since he signed at Bayern, but he is angry that details from his ongoing talks with Bayern Munich are constantly being leaked. He said,
What irritates me: all the talks that I have had here since  were always conducted very confidentially. Nothing ever leaked outside. Now, though, details from the current talks are constantly to be found in the media, and they often are not even right.
Of course that annoys me. That’s not how I know FC Bayern. It was always important to me to be able to collaborate confidentially with the employees in leadership positions — as loyally as I conduct myself toward the club as a player and as captain. If things now are apparently deliberately being leaked outside, that is also something that falls under the rubric “appreciation.”
Neuer declined to accuse anyone directly. “I’m not there at the talks; Thomas does that... But the number of people is small.” Kroth likewise said he had never encountered such leaks in previous negotiations. Kroth said they did not have any specific suspect:
No. Only two or three people sit at the table, but the information is also transmitted inside the club. No idea by what channels it then gets out. We’re not interested in putting anyone’s back against the wall, but only in the principal matter.
And what about Nübel?
Neuer praised Nübel as “a good goalkeeper, no question.” He said he could understand the transfer, although “we already have an outstanding number 2 in Sven Ulreich.”
Neuer gracefully skirted Bild’s remark that he was having his designated heir paraded before him:
What happens in the future is not something I need to rack my brain about now. As long as I deliver my performances, I will play. I’m convinced of that.
But what about the rumor that Bayern has guaranteed Nübel a number of games? Neuer replied:
About that, I can only say that I’m not familiar with anything like that. That doesn’t really exist in performance sports. Promises like that are risky, because a coach is always also involved, for whom you’re definitely not doing a favor. I don’t think a top coach who coaches a team like Bayern would let himself be told who he has to play.