The left wing at Bayern Munich has been Franck Ribery's undisputed domain for well over a decade, but if the club's pre-season preparations are anything to go by, the Frenchman could be set for a more central role under new coach Niko Kovac.
In Bayern's most recent friendly against Manchester City in Miami, the 35-year-old played as a No.10, marauding behind Sandro Wagner as an attacking playmaker, with Arjen Robben on the right flank and Kingsley Coman on the left.
Ribery did not look out of place and teed up Bayern's second goal in the 23rd minute of the 3-2 defeat with an inch-perfect lofted pass – from a central position – over the City defence, right into the path of Robben, who made no mistake from close range.
"We wanted to field a lot of our more experienced players," said Kovac when asked about the positional switch of the veteran, who recently penned a one-year contract extension with the defending Bundesliga champions. "We needed to play with a double pivot and that meant we needed a 10 behind the striker, so I told Franck I was going to play him there and he did really well: he got an assist and was excellent. I thought with his speed and directness he was very good."
Robben also reserved praise for the other half of the long-standing 'Robbery' partnership, saying: "We found each other a lot out on the pitch and had some good attacks. That was positive."
It was not the first time that Ribery has played centrally, as he featured there regularly for Olympique Marseille early on in his career. Furthermore, after Zinedine Zidane's retirement from the international scene in 2006, Ribery was France head coach Raymond Domenech's first choice as the man to fill the void in the middle and he frequently took up the mantel during qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola also explored the option of utilizing Ribery's speed of thought and foot more centrally. "He asked me which is my preferred position and if I could possibly play as a No.10," the Frenchman said in summer 2013."I told him that I can play anywhere in attack."
Now that Bayern's 2018 World Cup participants are back in training, however, it remains to be seen where Ribery will play come the start of the Bundesliga season, with James Rodriguez, Thiago, Leon Goretzka, Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry and even Arturo Vidal all eyeing that very spot in the side.