European news

Hitzfeld lauds Robben's influence

February 15, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Former Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has hailed Arjen Robben as one of the most important players in European football, comparing him to FIFA World Player of the Year Lionel Messi.

Arjen Robben missed the first half of the Bundesliga season through injury
GettyImagesArjen Robben missed the first half of the Bundesliga season through injury

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Hitzfeld, who left Bayern a year before Robben was signed from Real Madrid and now manages the Switzerland national side, feels that Robben's performances in the Bundesliga have proven his world-class status.

Robben has been in scintillating from since returning from injury a month ago, netting four goals in four league appearances plus another against Aachen in the DFB-Pokal.

"It's probably a bit too much to claim that he's the most important player around in European club football at the moment. Players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are very important for their teams as well," Hitzfeld told Bild.

"Robben's presence at Bayern makes a big difference, but Messi does the same at Barcelona, even at the highest level possible. He's still the best player in the world. However, Robben is about as good as Messi.

"It's clear to see that Robben currently makes the difference at Bayern. He has so many qualities. He's fast, has great technique and always attracts two or three opponents. Additionally, he's very dangerous in front of the goal."

Bayern currently sit third in the Bundesliga. While they are 13 points behind runaway league leaders Borussia Dortmund, the Bavarians are now three points from Bayer Leverkusen in the final Champions League spot.