Following a number of high-profile transfers, competition for places is expected to be be fiercer than ever at Bayern Munich in the upcoming season. Coach Carlo Ancelotti insists that no player is guaranteed a place.
Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti has denied that James Rodriguez has been signed as a replacement for Thomas Müller, who enjoyed a less-than successful 2016-17 season.
After scoring 32 times for Bayern in 2015-16, the German international struggled for form last term, managing only nine goals in 42 appearances in all competitions and prompting suggestions that the German champions were on the look out for a replacement for their self-proclaimed "space interpreter."
"[Rodriguez] is a great signing," former Bayern striker Mario Basler told German broadcaster Sport1 on Tuesday. "But he plays in a position where other players also want to play, so it will be interesting to see what happens with Thomas Müller."
The 26-year-old Colombian international, who played under Ancelotti at Real Madrid, can operate in attack or across the midfield, but the Italian coach is adamant that he is not there to replace fan-favorite Müller.
"We did not buy James to replace Thomas Müller, but to increase the quality in the team," he told a press conference in Shanghai, where Bayern are to face Premier League side Arsenal on Wednesday.
"It's clear because if we think this, we could also think James can replace Thiago (Alcantara) because he can play in offensive midfield, or that he can replace (Arjen) Robben and (Franck) Ribery because he play on the wings."
Müller himself doesn't appear worried.
"Yes, James also plays in the center, but he's a player who will make us better and give us more options," the 27-year-old said. "The coach can count himself lucky that he has so many options."
With Sebastian Rudy, Niklas Süle and Corentin Tolisso also arriving in Munich this season, competition for a place in the starting 11 is fiercer than ever, despite the retirements of Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm. But Ancelotti said no player is guaranteed a place.
"James knows that he needs to earn his place otherwise he'll be on the bench," the Italian said. "We've got huge competition in the team. Nobody is guaranteed to play, and that's a good thing for us."
Müller to Wolfsburg?
Should Müller struggle to get a game, he has already received advances from other Bundesliga clubs - albeit not entirely seriously.
"He can come to us if he wants," joked Wolfsburg coach Andries Jonker. "I've already sent him a text!"
Jonker worked with Müller from 2009 to 2011 when he was Louis Van Gaal's assistant at Bayern, but is confident that the German international will recover his form.
"At the end of the day, the players who score goals are the ones who play," he said. "And Müller scores goals."
Bayern Munich are taking part in the International Champions Cup (ICC) in China, where in addition to Arsenal they will also play friendly matches against AC Milan, Chelsea and Inter Milan.