Rain has been a big feature of Javi Martinez’ first two days in Munich. It poured down on his debut workout on Thursday, and the heavens opened again for his first squad training session on Friday, with a real feel of the chilly north European autumn in the air. The weather was cool – but the reception for the Spanish superstar from Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer and company was warm and welcoming.
“I've seen a bit of him in the past, and I reckon he's a very good footballer," declared club captain Lahm. Keeper Neuer agrees: “It's great that he's here." Boss Jupp Heynckes introduced the newcomer from Athletic Bilbao to his new team-mates prior to Friday's workout. “Then he went out and played football. He fitted in straightaway," reported Lahm, “my initial impression is that he’s quality."
However, the Spaniard’s first practice match in Bayern colours ended in a defeat, as keeper Neuer reported with a grin. “But he threw himself into it and won a lot of balls in the air," the Germany international said. “He was very good, he's still very young, and he’s starting out on a great career." Lahm is equally convinced “that he'll help us a lot."
Nevertheless, the switch to Munich is a huge cultural and lifestyle change for Martinez. The Basque native has suddenly moved 1,600 km from home, and will need time to settle. Neuer, a new arrival at FCB from Schalke last summer, knows a little of what that involves: “I also needed a few weeks to get used to it. And there's a lot coming at him from all directions, a new club, a move abroad. He'll need time before we can say he's really arrived."
Applying the brakes
As Neuer himself pointed out, his own move had been a lot easier, because he already knew many of his Bayern team-mates from Germany get-togethers. By contrast, Martinez can only really recognise faces he has seen on TV. “We have to apply the brakes," admonished Neuer, “he's not been signed just for one season, but for the long term."
Nevertheless, the defensive specialist is clearly working hard at the business of settling in. Javi, who was fitted with his new official FCB suit by outfitter S.Oliver after Friday training, has been completely open and communicative since arriving in Bavaria. “He seeks people out. It's a good sign that he wants to learn," reported Neuer.
The power of body language
Heynckes seems unlikely to field his new acquisition from the start in Sunday's meeting with Stuttgart, but the boss is widely expected to deploy the Spaniard in the holding role, a vital position “where he’ll have a lot of talking to do," Neuer pointed out. That need not be in German, the keeper said: “Javi can also communicate with body language and changes of pace."
Expectations of the club’s record signing are high, but the young Spaniard must find his feet first, both at the club and in rainy Munich.