Munich - While he is yet to make as big an impact as FC Bayern München’s other high-profile summer signings, centre-back Medhi Benatia is gradually settling into life with the Bavarian giants and made his Bundesliga bow in the 2-0 win over 1. FC Köln, coming on as a second-half substitute.
The Moroccan national team captain joined the record titleholders from AS Roma shortly before the summer transfer window slammed shut and is now hoping to maintain his upward trajectory as he looks to assert himself as an integral member of FC Bayern’s backline. Talking exclusively to bundesliga.com the 27-year-old opens up about his first impressions, season targets and new team-mates.
bundesliga.com: Medhi Benatia, what led to you making the decision to join FC Bayern München just under a month ago?
Medhi Benatia: I received lots of offers this summer, but I couldn’t reach an agreement with any club until FC Bayern came along. When I heard that FC Bayern wanted to sign me, it was clear that it was the destination where I’d further my career. AS Roma are a big club in Italy and a club that have the best European prospects, but FC Bayern are currently one of the top three teams in the world. I wanted to move to Munich in order to move into the next stage of my career and win lots of titles.
bundesliga.com: Did you seek out Franck Ribery for advice?
Benatia: Absolutely. I called him specifically because we know each other from the time we spent together with Olympique de Marseille [between 2005-2007]. He immediately told me that it would be difficult to find a better club than FC Bayern anywhere in the world and that everything here is, simply put, just right. Having been here for a month I can confirm that what he said is true. It was impossible to turn down a move to FC Bayern. The fact that people such as [CEO] Karl-Heinz Rummenigge or [head coach] Pep Guardiola got in touch with me personally to express their desire to have me on board showed a lot of class. After that it was clear that I’d be moving to Munich.
bundesliga.com: What’s it like working with Pep Guardiola in training on a daily basis?
Benatia: Pep Guardiola communicates a lot and gesticulates a lot as well, but he’s just passionate, which is a good thing. He tells you exactly what he wants from you in great detail. He knows what he wants and demands a lot of us in a tactical sense. I had to pull out of the Paderborn game during midweek due to a groin issue and he was completely accepting of the situation. He told me not to bother about it and that there were still a lot of games to go in the season. I can only say positive things about him.
bundesliga.com: Do you feel like you’ve already settled into life in Munich?
Benatia: My wife and I are really happy. The city is beautiful, clean and cozy. People do recognise me on the streets, but are happy to leave me in peace. That’s really enjoyable and very different to life in Morocco or Rome, for example, where it was impossible to go out on your own.
bundesliga.com: What have you been most impressed by so far at FC Bayern?
Benatia: The highest level of professionalism at every level. The standards are very high in training. For me it hasn’t always been easy because I haven’t yet been in peak physical condition. Players like [Philipp] Lahm, [Arjen] Robben, [David] Alaba or [Mario] Götze are unbelievably strong. They never make a technical error. It’s no wonder then that so many of these players are already World Champions or UEFA Champions League winners.
bundesliga.com: Which of your new team-mates, if any, have surprised you?
Benatia: I’d prefer not to single out one player in particular, but David Alaba is already unbelievable. He’s still so young, but he’s capable of playing in defence, in midfield and on the wing. He can do it all. He’s a superb player. Philipp Lahm reminds me of Francesco Totti at AS Roma. He’s always stayed true to one club, is the club captain and always produces a top performance, all whilst demonstrating great modesty. These players are true champions.
Interview by Alexis Menuge