Cologne - He may have established himself as one of the world's greatest right-backs, but Philipp Lahm has told popular German football magazine kicker that he wants to be be played further up the pitch when he makes his long-awaited return from a fractured ankle.
"It's my express wish to play in midfield," says FC Bayern München's 31-year-old captain. "I showed on enough occasions last season that I can play the Sechser position."
That Germany's 2014 FIFA World Cup-winning skipper is at home in the middle of the park is beyond any doubt since his impressive displays at the heart of the Bavarians' midfield last season. Shortly after arriving in Munich as coach in June 2013, Pep Guardiola called Lahm "the most intelligent player I have ever coached" and chose to use him in a central position, where he would have more influence on the game.
It was a tactical masterstroke, with Lahm's control, in-game brain and stamina all key reasons why Guardiola was able to turn Bayern into a possession machine, winning the Bundesliga title in record time and reaching the last four of the UEFA Champions League. "The way he plays the game just fits a team and a club like Bayern perfectly," continued Guardiola. "He's a top, top guy."
'Xabi and Basti are two excellent footballers'
Despite Brazilian full-back Rafinha doing a sterling job at right-back for Guardiola, the days of Lahm playing in the position that made him an international star are not over yet, even if he "would prefer to be in midfield". The competition for that position is fierce, chiefly due to Xabi Alonso and Bastian Schweinsteiger, but Lahm pointed to the form he showed in the first half of the season as evidence that he deserves a recall.
"Bastian and Xabi are two excellent players, but then you also have to consider how the rest of the team looks, and I think in the first game of the season, with Xabi playing centrally and me just beside, things worked well too."
'We need a squad this big'
Whatever the coach decides, Lahm is certainly not taking a return to the first team for granted and warned that the squad must accept Guardiola's choices, even with several important players returning to fitness as the business end of the season approaches. "Every one of us needs to know that we're at FC Bayern. There will be tough decisions to make and some people will be frustrated, but that's to be expected. We need a squad this big, as the Hinrunde, and all our injuries, showed."
"In the decisive games, which will be upon us soon, every player and the squad as a whole needs to hit his best form," continued the 111-time German international. "But that will happen, I have no worries about that. It's still my goal to win everything this season."