Guardiola: Casillas the greatest goalkeeper in Madrid's history

The former Barcelona coach has paid tribute to the new Porto ace, who last week left the Santiago Bernabeu after a 25-year association

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola has hailed Iker Casillas as arguably the greatest goalkeeper in the history of Real Madrid.

Casillas announced on Sunday that he was leaving Los Blancos for Porto, ending a 25-year association with the Spanish side that featured five Liga title triumphs and three Champions League successes.

The manner of his departure upset many Madrid fans, with the 34-year-old having been left all alone to announce his exit at a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu, without a single club official present.

Blancos president Florentino Perez did arrange a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu the following day to pay tribute to the World Cup winner and former Barcelona boss Guardiola says that it was only right that Casillas’ enormous contribution was recognised.

“I, of course, have great respect for Iker,” the ex-Spain international told reporters.

“He was, if not the greatest, one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of Madrid.”

Meanwhile, Guardiola’s former club, Barcelona, are currently awaiting the outcome of Saturday’s presidential elections.

The 44-year-old has previously voiced his support for former Blaugrana supremo Joan Laporta but he insists that he only wants to see “the best man win”.

As for Bayern, the German champions are on the verge of sealing a €40 million deal for Juventus ace Arturo Vidal.

However, even though the transfer is expected to go through this weekend, Guardiola would only say, “We haven’t signed him yet.”

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Bundesliga falling behind Premier League, warns Rummenigge

The Bayern Munich chief has lamented how the English league is ahead in terms of transfer activity, television money and successful marketing

Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has urged the Bundesliga to step up if they are to avoid falling further behind the Premier League financially.

The English top flight sold the domestic television rights to matches for a record £5.136 billion in February for three seasons from 2016-17 – a 71 per cent increase on the previous deal in 2012.

Contrastingly, the Bundesliga receives an estimated £437 million per season for rights to air games within Germany, leaving the Premier League around four times better off.

Rummenigge lamented how Germany is being beaten by English opposition and is worried that the Bavarians and their domestic rivals will be stripped bare by Chelsea, Manchester United and their Premier League competitors.

“The Bundesliga has to finally act,” he told Bild. “The English are overtaking us left, right and centre.

“When taking into account transfer market activity, in marketing terms, in TV money – anywhere, really. The Bundesliga has to be careful not to fall further behind, I think.

“Anyone who follows the transfer market at the moment, within which English clubs work, knows their clubs are being fully upgraded. The Bundesliga has to be careful that we’re not emptied out.”

Rummenigge was speaking at the start of Bayern’s trip to China – which sees Pep Guardiola’s men play three money-spinning matches in nine days – and he says such pre-season tours are a necessity in the modern footballing climate.

“We have to make these trips for economic reasons,” he added. “These are not leisure trips, let’s be realistic here.

“It would be possible to go to Austria or Switzerland to prepare, which would be easier on players and coaches, but if eight or nine German clubs do this then the Bundesliga wouldn’t be able to continue.

“There’s no fears that a trip to China affects our preparation, though. Last year was very different because we only had three and a half weeks of time to work with the players [because of the World Cup].

“This time, many internationals such as Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer are already back in training, along with many others also. This year is much more relaxed.”

Bayern kick-off their competitive season with a DFL-Supercup clash against Wolfsburg on August 1, with the Bundesliga getting under way 13 days later.

Voller: Leverkusen did not block Vidal's transfer to Bayern

The official insists the club did not prevent the Chilean’s move to the Allianz Arena four seasons ago, despite preferring selling abroad

Bayer Leverkusen director Rudi Voller has refuted claims the club blocked Arturo Vidal’s transfer to Bayern Munich in 2011, stating it was the midfielder who chose Juventus.

The Chilean is nearing a €40 million transfer to Allianz Arena to replace Bastian Schweinsteiger, but Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge claimed on Thursday he could have arrived four seasons ago had Leverkusen not blocked the move.

However, Voller has responded to his counterpart’s statements and said that they would not have stood in the Bavarians’ way, even though they preferred to sell him abroad. 

“Vidal chose between two world-class clubs and decided on Juve. If he wanted to go to Bayern, we would have found an agreement,” the former Germany striker told Bild

“But we wouldn’t have liked to transfer him to another club inside the Bundesliga. That’s why we took the equal offer from Turin.”

Vidal proceeded to join Juventus for €12.5m and established himself as a fan favourite as he went on to win four consecutive Scudetti in Serie A.

Guardiola: Ribery ruled out for Bundesliga start

The coach revealed the Frenchman has not fully recovered from his injury troubles, but is confident of his side’s chances next term

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola revealed winger Franck Ribery will miss the club’s opening Bundesliga clash through injury.

The 32-year-old endured an injury-hit end to last season as Bayern crashed out of the Champions League and DFB-Pokal semi-finals, though club director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently confirmed he was on the road to recovery.

However, Guardiola has now confirmed the Frenchman will be unavailable for the club’s Bundesliga bow against Hamburg on August 14.

“He won’t be ready for the first game of the season, but it’s getting better, I’m optimistic,” the coach told reporters ahead of Saturday’s clash with Valencia in Beijing.

The Bavarians are in China where they will play a run of three friendly games – including games with Inter and Guangzhou Evergrande – in nine days.

Bayern are also hoping to complete the signing of Arturo Vidal from Juventus in the coming days, after agreeing a €40 million fee with the Turin side.

Robben: Quality Vidal can help any team

The winger believes the midfielder could be a huge asset to Bayern Munich as he nears a move to the Allianz Arena

Arjen Robben has revealed his delight at the prospect of teaming up with Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal at Bayern Munich next season.

The two clubs have agreed a €40 million fee for the Chile international, while the player’s agent negotiated personal terms with the Bavarians on Tuesday.

Robben says he would welcome the arrival of the 28-year-old as Bayern chase elusive Champions League success once again next term under coach Pep Guardiola.

“A player with those qualities can help any team,” he told Bild.

Michael Skibbe, who managed Vidal at Bayer Leverkusen in 2007-08, believes he will make a big impact at Allianz Arena: “Arturo is extremely vociferous and aggressive.

“Vidal is, with his attitude, exactly the right player for Bayern with all their technically strong players.”

Vidal will replace Bastian Schweinsteiger, who joined Manchester United earlier this week.

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