It's hard to imagine a better early Christmas present for Bayern and their fans than the one delivered at the end of the last home match in 2010. First of all, there was a fine performance and fully merited win against promoted St Pauli, and then a huge but welcome surprise: Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has been in scintillating form for months and is now one of the key personalities at the club, took the stadium microphone, advanced to a position in front of the south terrace, and informed the 69,000 crowd at the Allianz Arena of his decision to extend his stay at Bayern until June 2016.
Schweinsteiger’s current deal was due to expire in June 2012, but his decision to ink a four-year extension means the Bayern squad for the mid-term future takes on ever sharper contours. The board has already agreed long-term deals with Philipp Lahm (until 2016), Thomas Müller (2015), Holger Badstuber (2014) and Franck Ribéry (2015). Schweinsteiger has followed suit, even though contract talks with the club were not expected to begin until spring next year.
“We’ve held very fair and successful talks over the last few weeks,” reported Christian Nerlinger. On the eve of the St. Pauli clash, the director of sport and board directors Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Karl Hopfner agreed final terms with Schweinsteiger’s agent, allowing the contract to be prepared and signed. “All in all, it didn’t take very long,” the 26-year-old observed, “the talks were very positive. Everything was basically right.”
“I’m overjoyed Bastian has chosen Bayern Munich,” said Nerlinger, “he’s come on extraordinarily well recently, on and off the field. All the biggest clubs in Europe have been rolling out the red carpet for him, but this is a clear signal, and a strong pledge of allegiance to Bayern Munich.”
“I’m thrilled about staying here at my club,” said Schweinsteiger, “the only club I’ve talked to is FC Bayern. When I arrive at the Säbener Strasse, it feels like coming home. I know all the staff from A to Z, and I’m very happy there.” The midfielder joined FCB in 1998, and is currently the longest-serving player in the Bundesliga squad.
Schweinsteiger said his long-term commitment was sealed by the club’s ambitious targets for the years ahead. “I’ve said often enough that I want to win the Champions League. But the question for me is this: is that better with Real Madrid, Inter Milan, some other club - or with Bayern Munich? I think I’ve answered that question clearly and unmistakably. We can achieve a lot here.”
Underlining Bayern’s position of strength
Securing the player’s signature naturally involved much improved personal terms, president Uli Hoeneß confirmed. “It's an important signal, proving Bayern is not a selling club. It also demonstrates our financial clout. He’s not signed just because we’re all such nice guys.” Schweinsteiger himself acknowledged that fact: “The club has dug very deep.”
Schweinsteiger’s lofty standing at FCB is not in doubt, as shown by the rapturous applause from the fans, and the heartfelt and spontaneous congratulations offered by his team-mates after the announcement. “We’re both products of the youth section, and it’s important players identify with the club,” commented Philipp Lahm, “his decision is a positive sign, because we have big plans for the future.”