BREAKING: Thiago suffers ligament injury

The midfielder is expected to be out of action for some time after picking up an injury in training and will undergo surgery

Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara faces a lengthy period on the sidelines after picking up a ligament injury, the club have confirmed.

More to follow…

Alonso: Guardiola was desperate to sign me – that's why I ditched Real Madrid

The midfielder concedes it was tough to leave the Santiago Bernabeu this year but has no regrets about joining Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich

Xabi Alonso has revealed that Pep Guardiola’s infectious desire to sign him was enough to convince him to ditch Real Madrid this summer.

The midfielder joined Bayern Munich in a deal rumoured to be worth €10 million, ending his five-year stint with the reigning European champions.

Many people suspected Toni Kroos arrival from the Allianz Arena was the reason Alonso chose to jump the Santiago Bernabeu ship, but he continues to deny this and stressed that all was well at Real Madrid and that he just wanted a change of scenery – which Guardiola was desperate to provide him.

“There are lots of opinions on my reason for moving in Spain,” he told Goal. “But the fact is that I wanted a restart. For me, it was the right decision for my career.

“It had nothing to do with transfers or with Toni Kroos. Carlo Ancelotti trusted me and he knew that I would play an important role. There were no problems in Madrid.

“It was no easy decision but I thought that the right moment had come. Real Madrid are a big club. Now I had the chance to get to know another big club, in a new country, to experience new things. For me, it was the last chance to join Bayern.

“When I had made up my mind, I talked to the club officials at Real. They respected my decision and wanted to support me. Pep Guardiola wanted me badly and that was really important for me.

“I have always written the script for my career. That played an important part in my decision. When the interest in me became bigger, I thought about it seriously. I was already at a big club knowing that I would play because coach Carlo Ancelotti trusted me.

“After five years and having just won the Champions League – something we had worked hard towards for years – I was looking for a new challenge. It certainly was the right moment.”

Having worked with a number of Champions League-winning trainers – including Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez – Alonso gave his verdict on the style of his new boss, Guardiola, whom he claims works meticulously on forming the perfect tactics for Bayern.

“It is difficult to compare coaches,” the Spaniard added. “Guardiola is an analyst. He always tries to improve the team, to prepare it perfectly for the next match.

“He always thinks about new ideas and has a great tactical background. For hours he thinks about the right tactics and he tries to teach the players what they have to do and consider. He spends hours coming up with a gameplan.

“For me, it is an incredible experience. I’ve learnt many things. He was a reason why I came here. He had a big interest in getting me here. For me, it was very important to feel that trust.”

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Guardiola's presence makes players want to join Bayern, says Rummenigge

The FCB president has voiced his admiration for the 43-year-old coach, while he has also hailed Xabi Alonso’s contribution to the team following his summer move

Bayern Munich chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes the presence of Pep Guardiola will help the Bundesliga champions attract more top players.

The former Barcelona coach has helped bring in players such as Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze, Thiago Alcantara, Xabi Alonso and Mehdi Benatia since his arrival at Bayern in the summer of 2013 and Rummenigge has nothing but praise for the Spaniard.

“Pep Guardiola is a very good trainer. He works with an intensity I have never experienced and I’ve been with this club for a long, long time now, he added,” Rummenigge told Goal.

“He’s an unbelievable trainer. We can all be fortunate he’s at Bayern. I notice that when I talk to players – he is a factor in why they want to come to Bayern. 

“Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze moved to Bayern as they wanted to work with him, among other things. That’s a plus for us.

“Sometimes he comes on non-training days, sits five, six hours in his office and analyses matches. On Sunday at Oktoberfest he stayed for two hours and then got on a plane to Italy to watch [Champions League opponents] Roma against Juventus.

“There are coaches who would rather drink the occasional beer more but he flew to Turin to watch our next opponent. He’s a meticulous worker.”

Xabi Alonso was one of Guardiola’s key signings this summer after the departure of Toni Kroos to Real Madrid and Rummenigge is impressed by the experienced midfielder’s performances so far.

Featuring in defence and midfield, Alonso has helped make up for the void left by injuries to the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thiago Alcantara  and Javi Martinez, with Bayern leading the Bundesliga by four points after seven games.

“I knew the player Xabi Alonso well but the person off the pitch slightly less. From the first day I noticed that he has a great personality.

“That’s resulted in his style of playing football. He completed his debut at Schalke, having not even trained with the team before. Everyone has figured out that he strengthens Bayern and the transfer was extremely useful.

“I hope he will continue on this path. 

“Javi Martinez’s injury was a bad thing, but we turned it into something positive by signing Alonso and Benatia.

“Mehdi Benatia will give us additional quality in the next weeks and months – the stubborn negotiations have paid off. You always need a bit of luck with transfers.”

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Schweinsteiger on track to return in 2014 – Sammer

The midfielder has yet to play this season due to persistent injury problems but Bayern’s sporting director says “relief is in sight”

Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is on track to return to action in 2014, according to Matthias Sammer.

The 30-year-old has not made a competitive appearance since the World Cup due to a knee injury suffered during the pre-season tour of America.

However, Bayern sporting director Sammer says Schweinsteiger continues to make good progress in his rehabilitation and should feature before the end of the calendar year.

“There’s no reason to say he cannot play more this year,” he told Kicker.

“Of course it’s possible Basti can come back in 2014, that’s not at all unrealistic.

“The relief is in sight. He’s made good progress.”

Thiago Alcantara has also missed the season so far after damaging his medial ligament in March, though the Spain international returned to team training last month.

Sammer hopes to see him back in action soon but warned they would not rush his return.

“Slowly, slowly,” he added when asked how the 23-year-old was progressing. “Now we have to integrate him, but we’re looking at it carefully.”

PSG punishment proved Uefa is serious about FFP – Rummenigge

EXCLUSIVE: The Bayern chairman believes financial landscape of European football is far from healthy – but says in-debt Real Madrid are “not the big problem”

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge feels Uefa proved it is serious about Financial Fair Play by punishing Paris Saint-Germain.

The French champions were hit with a €60 million fine and forced to curb their spending for the coming seasons – while they also saw their Champions League squad allowance reduced by four players – due to a breach of FFP regulations.

Premier League champions Manchester City were also slapped with the same punishment, while the likes of Inter, Liverpool and Monaco have been asked to provide further information on their spending for 2012 and 2013.

Rummenigge – who is also acting chairman of the European Club Association (ECA) – is confident the measures now being enforced are vital for the health of the game in Europe.

“A huge company stands behind PSG, with almost infinite money. Since the strength of the squad is very dependent on the transfer market, PSG could be invested in indefinitely. We don’t think this is fair,” he explained to Goal.

“[PSG owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi] is in a very fast car, but even Ferraris get damaged if they drive too fast. PSG were convicted last summer for violations. They got a huge fine and had to cut the squad from 25 to 21 in the Champions League. You can not misunderstand the signs of Uefa. I do not think they can be threatened by any club president.

“Some clubs have been punished. Michel Platini wants his baby to grow slowly, and this is necessary. We have a professional football world, in which round about 65 per cent of all clubs in Europe are losing money. It is not a healthy landscape. Uefa must challenge and support or we’ll continue with irrational transfer fees.”

However, Rummenigge was keen to stress he sympathised with PSG’s efforts to return to Europe’s elite and admits Bayern’s significant commercial revenue has been met with similar opposition by fans in the past.

“Many groups are against any kind of commerce, but without them, we would have no stadium of this quality, this atmosphere. We would have no Franck Ribery, no Manuel Neuer, no Arjen Robben. You have to find a healthy balancing act,” he continued.

“Nevertheless, I do not condemn PSG. I even understand them. The club was in obscurity for 20 years until they were bought by a sheikh. Thanks to great financial expenses they are back, they are continually playing an important role in the Champions League.”

Real Madrid have continued to spend astronomical sums in the transfer market despite debts totalling more than €600m, but Rummenigge insists there is no issue with clubs who spend lavishly as long as it is within their means.

“Real and Barcelona are not the big problem, although they have a higher mountain of debt,” said the 59-year-old. “Financial fair play is based on the break-even rule – that’s simply ‘do not spend more than you earn’. The European Club Association [ECA] had a meeting in Manchester with 150 representatives in 2009. All were in favour.”

Rummenigge went on to say the World Cup in Qatar could still potentially be held in winter, and could even be moved altogether should Michael Garcia’s report into alleged corruption in the bidding process highlight any illicit activities.

“We at the ECA are always ready to talk about a change of date, regardless of whether it’s November, January or whenever,” he said. “Under a condition: club football is not the only one that foots the bill.

“Would it be fair to leave Qatar out in the rain? I do not think so. If the Garcia report brings out nothing, the World Cup will take place there. Then we have all options on the table: when is it possible to hold the tournament? When is it useful? What doesn’t give the footballing family a stomach ache? It’s not about dollars or euros.”

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