Guardiola: I have never seen a player like Ribery

The former Barcelona coach is thoroughly impressed by the tricky winger’s professionalism and work rate

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has taken the time to praise Franck Ribery and has hailed the winger’s fighting spirit.

The France international has been one of the Bavarians’ undisputed star players in the first half of the 2013-14 Bundesliga campaign, netting six goals and creating eight more in 13 appearances.

Nevertheless, it’s not so much Ribery’s contribution in possession that has impressed Guardiola as the former Barcelona coach has now singled him out for his hard work off the ball.

“I have never seen a player with Ribery’s character at this level,” Guardiola was quoted as saying by Bild.

“The way he keeps fighting and running for the team is incredible.

“It’s an honour for me to coach Franck.”

Ribery is one of three contenders in the running to win the 2013 Fifa Ballon d’Or alongside La Liga stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Kirchhoff suffers ankle injury blow

The defender, on loan from Bayern, now faces a spell on the sidelines after sustaining the problem in a training camp in Qatar

Schalke’s on-loan defender Jan Kirchhoff is to leave the club’s training camp after damaging ankle ligaments.

Kirchhoff joined the club on a temporary basis from Bayern Munich this winter after struggling to force his way into Pep Guardiola’s side, admitting he was relieved to be given the chance to secure regular first-team football.

However, the versatile defender was injured at Schalke’s training camp in Qatar and is due to fly back to Germany on Tuesday. 

General manager Horst Heldt stated via the club’s official Twitter acount: “A ligament is damaged.

“It makes more sense that he travels back to Germany on Tuesday.”

Schalke were involved in friendly action on Monday, with a double from Adam Szalai securing a 2-1 win over Al-Gharafa.

'I'm in love with Robben!' – Guardiola

The Spaniard hopes that the Dutchman and his fellow Bayern star Bastian Schweinsteiger can return from injury quickly ahead of the season restart

Bayern Munich head coach Pep Guardiola jested he is “in love” with Arjen Robben and hopes the winger can return to haunt Bundesliga defences swiftly.

The Dutchman, 29, missed the latter stages of the first half of the Bavarians’ season with injury, while Bastian Schweinsteiger has struggled intermittently throughout 2013-14.

Guardiola is hopeful that both of the midfielders will be available for Bayern’s return to action after the winter break at Borussia Monchengladbach on January 24.

“I’m in love with Arjen!” the former Barcelona boss told reporters on Monday. “I hope he comes back as soon as possible and keeps his good form.

“I hope that Bastian and Arjen can train with the team before the returning rounds start. Bastian’s condition is much, much better, he can run without problems.”

Bayern agreed a pre-contract agreement with Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski on Saturday, which will see the Poland international move to the Allianz Arena when his contract expires at the end of June. 

Guardiola, who refused to discuss Lewandowski’s pending arrival, dismissed speculation that forward Mario Mandzukic would leave the club as a result of the signing.

“Mandzukic is a super, super professional,” he added. “He will stay here.”

Kirchhoff glad to escape Bayern

The former Mainz star had grown frustrated with his role as a substitute and is keen to prove his worth at his new club

Jan Kirchhoff is looking forward to his loan spell with Schalke and believes he needed to get away from Bayern Munich in order to get regular playing time again.

The 23-year-old agreed an 18-month loan at the Veltins Arena after making just seven substitute Bundesliga appearances for Bayern this term following his close-season arrival from Mainz and Kirchhoff has admitted he had become frustrated at a lack of first-team football under Pep Guardiola.

“The situation in Munich was not easy for me,” he told Schalke’s official website.

“I learned a lot in half a year, but just did not play too much. I had reached a point where I said that I was no longer satisfied.

“I am very happy that the transfer worked. I am very grateful and look forward to a new challenge at a great club.”

Kirchhoff’s first league game for his new club could come on January 26 when they return to Bundesliga action against Hamburg.

Lewandowski move less emotional than Gotze deal – Muller

The Germany international believes there were contrasting motives and events leading to both transfers

Thomas Muller says Robert Lewandowski’s transfer from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich at the end of the season will not prove to be as emotional for the BVB fans as Mario Gotze’s move last year.

Bayern announced on Saturday that the Poland international has signed a five-year deal with FCB and will join his new club on a free transfer at the end of the season, making him the second Dortmund player to make the move to the Allianz Arena within a year after Gotze’s transfer in the summer of 2013.

However, Muller does not think that the 25-year-old’s imminent departure will anger the Dortmund faithful as much as Gotze’s exit.

“I don’t think he faces a difficult last few months at Dortmund. People already knew that he would leave BVB. It’s not as emotional as with Mario Gotze,” Muller told Bild.

“The announcement that Lewandowski will join Bayern did not surprise me. The transfer was to be expected.

“I don’t know him personally, so I’ll just let him surprise me. He has had a good season so far and I don’t think that he will score less goals now all of a sudden.”

Lewandowski has netted 11 goals in 17 Bundesliga appearances so far this term.