FC Bayern München are on course to win a record-breaking fourth consecutive Bundesliga title after enjoying another impressive start to a Bundesliga campaign. For superstar winger Arjen Robben, however, proceedings thus far have been anything but optimal.
The veteran of 134 Bundesliga encounters has been plagued by injury in 2015/16, making just seven appearances in Germany’s top flight. Talking exclusively to bundesliga.com the fit-again Dutchman shared his thoughts on the performances of “competitors” Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman, his plans for the future and the imminent departure of head coach Pep Guardiola.
bundesliga.com: Arjen Robben, after spending a lengthy spell on the sidelines through injury, you’ve just recently returned to first-team training. How are you feeling right now?
Arjen Robben: Things are looking really good at the moment. The target I set myself was to be back in full training during our winter training camp in Doha, but I was unfortunately bed-ridden with the flu for three days. Obviously I had envisioned it going completely differently, but things are a lot better now and it’s fun being back out on the pitch.
bundesliga.com: When you look back on 2015, how would you asses the calendar year as a whole?
Robben: I’m pleased that 2015 is over. The year actually started off really well. In March and April I was in great condition, but then the injuries once again started creeping in, which meant this season’s Hinrunde was a rather unlucky one for me. That’s why I’m happy that it’s behind me. I now get the feeling that I’m starting from scratch again – that’s a good thing. I hope that my time away from the game is over now and that I can continue to remain injury free.
bundesliga.com: You mentioned your latest lengthy spell on the sidelines. How frustrating is that for you?
Robben: Every footballer wants to be playing football all the time. When you can’t, when you’re not allowed, then it’s definitely very frustrating. Naturally you’re disappointed when you have to watch on. On the other hand, it’s been a lot of fun to see what the team have managed to produce in terms of performances so far. We’re having a fabulous season. I believe that, especially in last six months, we’ve taken another step forward.
bundesliga.com: You’re on course to win titles in all the competitions you’re in…
Robben: It already sounds good when you’ve got an eight-point advantage in the Bundesliga and have reached the quarter finals of the DFB Cup and the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League. Ultimately though, we’ve always got to keep proving ourselves, perform to the level of our capabilities and, in the end, also win titles. You’re never going to be gifted anything. As a team we can’t allow ourselves to become complacent even for a second, that’s the most important thing.
bundesliga.com: New signings Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman have performed incredibly well on the wings in your absence. What have you made of their performances thus far?
Robben: Both have come on leaps and bounds. Costa had a great Hinrunde, he created a really big buzz around himself and justifiably so. He fits perfectly with the team. Coman is still a very young player, but has already put in plenty of impressive displays. For me personally, being a winger myself, it’s been a lot of fun watching them play.
bundesliga.com: Looking at the other Bundesliga squads is there anyone else who has caught the eye?
Robben: There are lots of great players. One big young talent who impressed me in particular was Leroy Sane of FC Schalke 04. He can become a really big player. Everything looks really good for him right now.
bundesliga.com: Sane is currently just 20 years of age. You’re turning 32 in a few weeks so can be considered a veteran. What do your future plans look like?
Robben: I’m still very young then (grins). My aim right now is to first and foremost be fit again and back out on the pitch. That I feel really good at this club goes without saying. It’s now about putting the last six months behind me and focusing on moving forward. Everything else should follow by itself.
bundesliga.com: And long-term?
Robben: Of course I can imagine at some point moving back home with my family after my time at Bayern is up, but I don’t want to plan that far ahead. In football it’s really difficult to plan with a view to the long-term. Right now we’ve got a great squad. Everyone should be proud to be a part of this fantastic team. From that perspective there can only be one thought: let’s go and get back to full fitness.
bundesliga.com: You’re seen as one of the leaders in camp. What does this club mean to you?
Robben: This is my seventh year in Munich. The club have become a big part of my life in several respects. Two of my children were born here in Munich. Bayern are something very big in my life. This is what you work for as a professional footballer, to be able to play at such a big club like this. You have to make the most of the time you have in spite of the constant pressure because you never know when it will all be over.
bundesliga.com: It has now been confirmed that Pep Guardiola will leave the club in the summer. What are your feelings regarding his departure?
Robben: Of course I’m disappointed, like many others. We would have preferred to continue working alongside him. He was a head coach that helped me take an enormous step forward in my career. Put simply it’s a lot of fun to work with him. We’ve developed further as a team, as a player you can only get better under him. It’s a real, real shame, but you have to accept the decision.