Lahm: Robben used to be selfish

The Bayern captain has praised his team-mate for developing into a team player, while he insists it will be no injustice if Manuel Neuer does not win the Ballon d’Or


Bayern Munich skipper Philipp Lahm has hailed Arjen Robben, saying that the Dutchman has evolved into a team player and ended his selfish habits.

Robben, 30, appeared to be on his way out of the Allianz Arena in 2012 after being heavily criticised for missing a crucial penalty in the Champions League final defeat to Chelsea.

But the Dutchman has been reborn over the past two years – and is now widely considered to be among the finest players in the world.

“Robben has changed a lot, he’s no longer a symbol of selfishness,” Lahm told Jutarnji.

Lahm also commented on the 2014 Ballon d’Or race, insisting that it will not be an injustice if team-mate Manuel Neuer doesn’t win.

Neuer is on the final three-man shortlist for football’s biggest individual prize, along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

“There will be no injustice if Neuer doesn’t take first prize,” he stated.

“I would love it to be a German, but we should not be too subjective, Cristiano Ronaldo also deserves to win.”

Lahm also noted that Real Madrid will be Bayern’s biggest rival for European success this season and that he aims to “win another Champions League in the next three and a half years.”

The 31-year-old lifted club football’s biggest trophy in 2013 after Bayern defeated Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in the final at Wembley.

Javi Martinez: I didn't want to talk to Bayern Munich team-mates after injury

The Spain international tried to stay away from the training ground after suffering ligament damage in the Bavarians’ DFL-Supercup clash with Borussia Dortmund in August


Javi Martinez has revealed that he was so down after suffering a serious knee injury at the start of the season that he avoided his Bayern Munich team-mates.

The Spain international suffered ligament damage in the DFL-Supercup clash with Borussia Dortmund on August 13 and was forced to undergo surgery in the United States a week later.

Martinez was forced to use crutches after the operation and the versatile midfielder has now admitted that he was left depressed by his lack of mobility.

“That was the most difficult time,” he told Bayern’s official website. “You can’t walk, and you basically can’t do anything.

“Friends, team-mates and the physios kept geeing me up and wishing me all the best. That helped me.

“But I was really down at times and avoided contact with the team. It wasn’t an easy period.”

However, Martinez is now in the gym everyday working on his fitness and is looking forward to returning to action in the New Year.

“We’re right on track,” the former Athletic Bilbao ace added. “I’m feeling better every day.

“I’m managing more and more exercise, and that’s good for me mentally.

“My leg has to become healthy, and my head has to stay healthy, too.

“I’m working hard every day, but I have to be patient, and that’s the toughest thing of all.”

Neuer should win the Ballon d'Or – Wilmots

The Belgium coach hailed the Germany international as ‘the complete goalkeeper’ and feels he should be awarded the accolade ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi


Marc Wilmots believes Manuel Neuer deserves to be awarded the Ballon d’Or following his successes with Bayern Munich and Germany.

Along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the 27-year-old keeper has been nominated as one of the final three candidates for the Fifa award having won the Bundesliga and the World Cup in 2014.

Calling for a change from the norm, the Belgium coach suggested it is time for a keeper to earn the award rather than a goalscorer, and Neuer is the stand-out option.

“I initially voted for Arjen Robben, Manuel Neuer and Thibaut Courtois, so for me it’s Neuer,” Wilmots said in an interview with Fifa.com.

“He’s the complete goalkeeper and, as far as I’m concerned, the best in the world. He had a perfect season, nearly won everything, and he’s consistent while making lots of progress.

“In addition to what he did with Bayern, he led Germany to the world title. So I think that, over the past year, we should reward a player who stopped goals, rather than the usual choice of going for players who scored them.”

Wilmots did admit that he was impressed by the feats of Ronaldo and Messi, but that fans have grown accustomed to their exceptional displays on the pitch.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest professionals on the planet, and he puts away 40 goals every season. The problem is that you almost grow used to it,” he added.

“Messi had a more difficult year due to injuries, although he still reached the World Cup Final. You get the feeling that they’ve been on a whole different planet for several years.

“But, that said, Manuel Neuer also has a superb track record in terms of statistics.”

When asked whether Belgium international Eden Hazard could contend for the award in the future, the 45-year-old suggested that the Chelsea man must first find a cutting edge in front of goal.

“Eden is progressing at an excellent rate for the moment, and I hope he is ambitious to reach that level. He just needs to be more clinical and improve his finishing,” Wilmots said.

“He showed at Lille that he could score 20-odd goals a season, and that’s where he needs to improve in order to help his team out at key moments.

“Eden is still young – he’s 23 and he has lots of ambition, which is good. I wish him all the best with it.”

Henry baffled by Muller's Ballon d'Or snub

The former striker believes the German should feel aggrieved at missing out on the final three, and has backed Paris Saint-Germain to overcome Chelsea in Europe


Former Arsenal star Thierry Henry says he cannot understand why Thomas Muller has been overlooked for the Ballon d’Or.

Muller lifted the World Cup with Germany this summer after helping Bayern Munich to the domestic double in Germany.

He was subsequently named on the 23-man shortlist for the 2014 prize, but missed out on a spot in the final three to Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and team-mate Manuel Neuer.

While Henry admits the three nominees fully deserve their chance to lift the trophy, the now-retired former France international claims Muller merits greater recognition.

“I don’t understand why Thomas Muller is not there. Messi and Ronaldo are extraordinary. What they do is not human. Neuer deserves to be there, too. But why didn’t we think of Thomas Muller?” Henry told RMC Sport.

“He would have been my guy, because he doesn’t do stepovers, nutmegs and all this stuff, but this guy already has 13 or 14 goals in the World Cup. And he’s a World Cup winner. Why is he not there?”

Henry went on to back Paris Saint-Germain to overcome Chelsea in the Champions League last 16 this season, but has warned the French champions of the threat posed by Lyon in Ligue 1.

“PSG can win against Chelsea. Anything can happen in two games,” he continued. “In terms of Ligue 1, it all depends on what they do in the Champions League, because it consumes energy.

“The away trips, the mental factor… It can be complicated in big games. Lyon aren’t playing anything [in Europe], so beware.”

There have been calls in recent weeks for Henry to be given one final cap for France to finish his career with and he says it would be impossible to turn down such an opportunity if it was offered, though he stressed nothing had been tabled.

“If they call me, I’ll be there,” he added. “Naturally, I won’t ask for anything. I will not say: ‘I would love to.’ But if they call I will answer it.”

Low thrilled with Boateng

The defender was a key part of the Germany team which won the World Cup in the summer and is crucial in the Bayern Munich defence and he has impressed the national team boss


Germany coach Joachim Low has heaped praise upon defender Jerome Boateng, who he feels has made great progress in recent years.

The defender was a key component of the side which won the World Cup in Brazil in the summer and is seen as a crucial player in the Bayern Munich back line.

And Low believes the 26-year-old has made great strides forward with club and country recently.

“Jerome has made extreme progress in the past two years,” the coach told Kicker. “I am thrilled with him because he plays with incredible consistency.

“His passes are excellent, right and left. In the World Cup final he was like Mats Hummels and put in a superior performance.”

The 54-year-old guided the country to glory this year and is contracted to the national team until after Euro 2016 and he insists that his side must improve even further to have a good chance of winning a second consecutive major honour.

“I know that we now have to reinvent in some areas us. Our opponents have been analysing the way we play, so we have set new targets.

“We have won the title and are at the top, but the art is now to confirm this and to become even better.”