Franck Ribéry is nearing towards the free agency status. But the Frenchman has expressed his intentions to stay, if possible. Given the Bayern Munich talisman’s approaching age and fitness issues, should Bayern renew his contract?
There is no doubt that Franck Ribéry has had a storied run at Bayern Munich thus far. Since moving from France to Germany, the veteran Frenchman has become a fan-favorite at the club. However, it would be oblivious to ignore Ribéry’s decline and fairly detrimental fitness issues that have plagued the latter stages of his career.
In his prime, Franck has proven to be an absolute masterclass of a player on the pitch. But with his growing age and physical issues, questions loom about whether the Bayern higher-ups should go through with another contract extension. Weighing the pros of retaining his contributions to the club against the cons of having an aging winger at a demanding club is the only possible way to approach a conclusion to this decision.
Franck Ribéry and his best skill-sets
Since his early stages through to Marseille, Bayern clearly saw where his talents lie best. Bayern Munich made a strong and smart acquisition in the then-young Frenchman. At Bayern, his talents blossomed on a bigger stage with some talented players surrounding him. Most notably, his relationships with David Alaba and Arjen Robben. More on that later.
Like Robben, Ribéry and his talents don’t necessarily shine in running a b-line down the flank and whipping in crosses. While he’s certainly capable of delivering crosses, it’s in his technical dribbling where his skills are emphasized. The French winger is immensely talented in receiving the ball out wide — even more so in counter-attack situations — and dancing his way through the penalty area.
His intricacies in dribbling allow him to turn defenders inside-out and make space for a shot. Likewise, he’s equally capable in using his technique to find and pick out a pass to a teammate in the box for a shot on goal. Even now, on a good day, Franck can inspire some impressive performances on occasion. The problem lies in staying fit long enough to get those performances and keep them consistent.
Dynamic relationships with David Alaba and Arjen Robben
As mentioned, his teammates around him complement him further. In particular, his dynamism alongside the Austrian David Alaba and the flying Dutchman Arjen Robben exploit his talents the most. Being a left-midfielder, his relationship with the left-back — Alaba, in this case — is crucial. This is especially so since Bayern Munich tends to play their full-backs more advanced up the field when on the offensive,
Alaba and Ribéry are perfectly in sync in complementing each other in transitioning between themselves in attack. Having both of these talented players streaking down the left-flank can overload and overwhelm opposition defenses. At least just as important, is his relationship of his opposite winger, Robben.
Both players possess great skill in tight dribbling to weave their way through defenses. Especially in counter-attackin plays, both of their blistering talent in pace highlight their dangerous characteristics. The Frenchman and Dutchman in counter-attacking plays prove fatal to oppositions if one player receives the ball in space and the other makes a forward run in support. Countless highlights of their careers include the famous “Robbery” goals emphasizing their particular skill in counter-attacking.
Ribéry and his decline in fitness
For all the highlights he has, time is always the enemy. Franck is growing further into his 30’s and it shows. It seems that soon after the glorious treble winning run Bayern Munich had in 2013, the Frenchman had trouble staying fit. This could easily be a major contributor to his decline in form.
Couple that with approaching age, and you have a recipe for an out-of-form player. As mentioned, he’s capable of stringing together some beautiful performances. However, those games are coming fewer and farther in between. Seemingly inevitable injury layoffs only make matters worse.
Watching several of Ribéry’s games this season can easily demonstrate this. It is becoming clearer that the winger is not as clean in his dribbling and not as sharp in 1-on-1 situations. Both skill-sets Franck previously was excelling at. He’s noticeably struggling and defenders are taking advantage of the situation and having a much easier time beating him by stripping the ball away from him. Attacks are more often being stunted whenever Franck receives the ball in an advanced position.
Given all of this, and the sparkling Kingsley Coman becoming more and more the heir to the throne, perhaps retirement is a more likely option for Franck. Whether his contract runs out and he decides to go elsewhere and straight out retire remains to be seen. But perhaps embracing Coman as the starter on the left and phasing Franck ut is the best way to go. There’s no shame on him, as he’s had a highly decorated career. Should he sign an extension, he’ll have to accept a rotational/impact-sub role.