Europe news

Rummenigge plays down Pep-Barca row

July 16, 2013
By Stephan Uersfeld, Germany Correspondent

Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has played down the war of words between coach Pep Guardiola and his former club Barcelona.

Pep Guardiola steps foot in the Bayern Munich changing room for the first time
AssociatedPep Guardiola had hit out at Sandro Rosell and the Barca directors.

Speaking at the presentation of Thiago Alcantara as a Bayern player after his arrival from Barca, Rummenigge said the two clubs had "always had a good friendship".

Last week, Guardiola hit out at Barca president Sandro Rosell and the club's directors. The new Bayern coach left Barca last summer after four seasons in charge and announced that he would be taking a year's sabbatical in New York.

However, Guardiola - whose first two years at Barca were under the presidency of Joan Laporta, who appointed him - told a press conference that Rosell and Barca had refused to grant him the "peace" he had requested.

He said: "I told them [the president and his directors] I was going 6,000km away and asked them to leave me in peace, but they haven't kept their word."

Guardiola also said he had been incensed by the suggestion that he had not made the effort to see Tito Vilanova, his former assistant, when the current Barca coach travelled to New York for cancer treatment.

Rummenigge said he had spoken to Rosell on the phone several times as the Thiago deal was finalised. "Barcelona and Pep had a fantastic time," he said. "We did not go into details, [but] Rosell has great respect for Pep and Pep has great respect for Barcelona.

"We [the clubs] have always had a close friendship. I'd like to think it will stay that way. There is no problem."

Rummenigge said he felt the Thiago deal had been fair for both clubs, explaining: "We started talking before last Thursday. However, we wanted to finalise the deal at the weekend, since Barcelona's pre-season has also started now.

"I have had many phone calls with my Barcelona colleague Rossell. This is a fair deal that satisfies both sides."

Thiago, who hailed Guardiola's influence, said he had decided to leave Barcelona at the end of last season.

"I played under him in the (Barcelona) youth team and I've got him to thank for everything that I have achieved so far,'' he said. "I never had a coach like him. He's unique. After the European Under-21 Championship, I spoke with Guardiola on the phone and, after that, I decided to come to Bayern.

"I discussed last season and the upcoming season with the club. I wanted a new challenge.''

On Sunday, Bayern said they had met a €25 million release clause to reunite Thiago with former Barca coach Guardiola, who gave the midfielder his debut at the Camp Nou in 2009.

A statement read: "FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munich have reached an agreement over the transfer of the player Thiago Alcantara to the German club for a total of €25 million."