In a remarkable interview with Sky after Bayern Munich’s friendly against Olympique de Marseille, Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge placed center-back David Alaba on par with arguably the greatest Bayern player of all time, Franz Beckenbauer, while also acknowledging and emphasizing Alaba’s special importance as a person of color (Bild, kicker):
In my opinion, David is something like the Black Franz Beckenbauer! He is the first player since Franz — with whom I had the privilege of playing on the same pitch — who seizes the reins, (and) whose personality also has developed in such a fantastic way. And who, on account of his skin color, has the chance in the age of “Black Lives Matter” to take on a special role. David knows what he has in FC Bayern. And we know what we have in David.
On the pitch, Alaba gives FC Bayern a defensive commander like Beckenbauer, something the club has lacked:
For some time now, we have not had a chief in defense. That is, someone who really seizes the reins and sets the tone and simply acts as the boss of the defense. He’s done that. We’ve seen it especially now in this time of the coronavirus, because you can hear everything in the stands. How vocally David takes matters into his own hands, that’s fantastic! He’s the one who opens and directs the games, who gives the commands. David is the boss of the defense — and we had a gap there before. He has found his ideal position in the central defense.
Most recently, Rummenigge issued a thinly veiled critique of Alaba’s agents Pini Zahavi and George Alaba after a reportedly contentious round of talks at a Munich restaurant. In his remarks to the press now, Rummenigge stated that the front office has had a more encouraging discussion with Alaba himself:
Brazzo and I had another good discussion with David, in which we made it clear to him how valuable he is to Bayern and can be in the future. I personally told him that I he is the Black Franz Beckenbauer in my opinion. David is an outstanding player and person, an absolute fan-favorite, and a great icon of FC Bayern.
Rummenigge also struck a less combative tone with respect to the negotiations themselves. “It’s the nature of things that a player’s agent gets as much as he can get,” he remarked. But money is not necessarily everything, Rummenigge continued — perhaps alluding to the threat of a transfer to a club like PSG or Manchester City:
I think the players have understood — especially in present times — that a contract is not so much about the very last euros, but rather that the whole package is at least as important: the club, the chances of success, the environment, as for instance in Munich with this fantastic city.
“I’m optimistic,” Rummenigge continued, “that at the end of the day we will find a solution so that David even ends his career here.”
Rummenigge elaborated on that idea, making no secret of the club’s long-term wishes. There is virtually no higher praise that Rummenigge could have given Alaba:
Our wish is that David extends, and then also ends his career at FC Bayern, and stays closely connected to Bayern Munich afterward. We have shown him this way.
It’s hardly usual anymore in modern times, as in the past with Franz, that someone comes to a club as a youth, grows there, stays there throughout his career, and becomes a legend. David is well on his way.
The next step in the talks, probably to Chelsea’s chagrin, is an appointment in Lisbon, where Rummenigge plans to meet Zahavi next: “We’ve made an appointment in Lisbon — provided we qualify for Lisbon next Saturday.”