Drawing comparisons between footballers has been somewhat of a hobby for fans and commentators alike.  While similarities between Bayern’s most recent purchases are few, one fact that cannot be ignored- Arjen Robben has proven to be the single greatest purchase in the club’s recent history.  Bar none.

Only having played 17 games for the Bavarians, the 26 year old Dutch international has shown his commitment to the club both on and off the pitch.  Scoring ten thus far this season, including two on his debut and a scorcher against Fiorentina in the latest round of the Champions League, Robben has undoubtedly sealed his spot in his side’s starting XI.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Some had seen August 2009 purchase from Real Madrid for €24 million as a stopgap at midfield.  While rumors of Frank Ribery’s departure for the Bernabéu has swirled, a major internal struggle at Bayern had begun as to whether the Frenchman would be worth keeping due to his inconsistent play and his lack of commitment off the field.  Regardless, the purchase of Robben might have been quite a surprise to many.  The desire of both sides to release key players could not have come at a more appropriate time, especially for Bayern, who luckily were able to convince the Frenchman of signing a short extension to his contract.  Even if it is only until this summer’s break, it has saved them from another total strategic collapse.

Many might remember the confusing state of Bayern football after the 2006 departure of then captain Michael Ballack to Chelsea.  While having a hole left at midfield, Uli Hoeneß and company had brought in Torsten Frings and reshuffled a number of players within the starting XI to compensate for their loss, however such levels of fluidity and continuity from past seasons were simply hard to come by, until now.

Since signing Robben, Bayern have scored 2.6 goals per game when including him on the pitch and a pitiful 1.1 goals per game without him.  Though Ribery does bring an enormous amount of speed and skill to the center, Robben is far more fitted to the German flow of the game, with his ability to read plays and his Beckham-like movement off the ball.

Admittedly, it is a bit too early to crown the Dutchman a true legend, but at such a young age, the ease with which he is able to adapt into such a complete player and manipulate the team’s focused energy to his advantage, are truly unique.  If he is able to stay healthy and on the good side of manager Louis van Gall, Robben will surely bring a large amount of silverware home to Munich

Pete Herrnreiter

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