Forget the mustard deposited in the shoes of teammates, the water fights and the madcap episode in Dubai when he drove the team bus into a bollard. Bayern Munich's attacking maestro
Although Ribéry is one of the world's top performers, can boast two of the game's most influential agents in
Bayern just had no reason to do business. Unburdened by debt and having qualified directly for the Champions League, its only thought was to bounce straight back after a highly disappointing 2008-09 season and the last person it wanted to jettison was its totemic creative leader. Bayern minus its French star is nuclear threat downgraded to knuckle-dusters. He is irreplaceable.
During a summer crammed with reports of big-money offers for Ribéry -- $70 million from Chelsea, $98 million from Manchester United, then Real's $115 million -- a widely held assumption was that Bayern was stoking a bidding war, hoping to spectacularly cash in towards the end of the transfer window. Not the case. The Bavarians never wanted to sell, and when general manager
Former Bayern stars
This is not the first time Ribéry has been ordered by a club board to unpack his bags. Back in the summer of '06 he made it clear he wanted to quit Marseille for Lyon, only to be unceremoniously told by OM president
Already the signs point to the end of the affair. Ribéry has voiced dissent at Bayern coach
"It's the first time in my career that my relationship with a coach is not positive. It doesn't feel right," said Ribéry. "In training no one is laughing. Everything is too serious. I don't think this club needs a hard line. You must have a balance between fun and seriousness. And the fun is missing in my daily life with my teammates."
Hard to see where "Kaiser Franck" and van Gaal go from here. Free spirits and barked orders tend not to mix. While Rummenigge scoffs at the suggestion that Bayern's recent $36 million purchase of Real Madrid's Dutch winger
After failing to win one of its first three Bundesliga games this season, it was fourth time lucky for Bayern, comprehensively outgunning reigning champion Wolfsburg 3-0 at the Allianz Arena. Dynamic and purposeful from back to front, Bayern looked on a mission to ram talk of a crisis down critics' throats.
But when the post-match laurels were doled out, the only recipient of praise was Robben, who exploded off the bench in the second half to score twice, both goals made by Ribéry.
Robben, 25, has a point to prove in southern Germany. He hoped to feature in
If he stays fit -- admittedly a hard-to-fulfill proviso for much of his career to date (he's back in training after knee surgery and could be out another two weeks) -- Bayern is on a winner.