Departing Bayern Munich legend Arjen Robben explained that politics at Real Madrid forced him to leave the club and join the German giants.
It was believed that the growth of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo led to Robben getting phased phasing out of the team but the Dutchman pointed out that there were more contributing factors.
“It became difficult for me because of the change of president at Real,” Robben told Goal and SPOX.
“I actually felt very comfortable there and played very well, but when politics come into play and you do not get a real chance, you have to make a decision whether you want to keep fighting or to go and continue your career elsewhere.
“It was not just Ronaldo. Perez returned as the club’s president. He then bought Ronaldo, but also Kaka, [Karim] Benzema and Xabi Alonso.
“Real spent so much money and we were told that they needed to make a bit of money back on outgoing transfers.
“For me it was a shame, because I had a very good relationship with the former coach Manuel Pellegrini. In addition, I had perhaps the best pre-season of my career.”
The duo came off the bench in the second half and put an exclamation mark on a 5-1 final-day thrashing of Eintracht Frankfurt at the Allianz Arena, with Ribery netting the fourth in the 72nd minute and Robben the last six minutes later.
After 12 years with Bayern, Ribery said: “My whole family, my children, my wife, my parents, my wife’s parents and my cousins came from France for this special moment.
“It was hard, but the main thing today is that we are champions.
“This is my last big moment here in the Allianz Arena with my colleagues and the fans. I was not only here two to three years, I was here 12 years at Bayern. What we did is just amazing.”
Robben, a 10-year veteran who had spent over four months on the sidelines through injury before finally returning earlier this month, said: “After such a game many, many emotions pass through your whole body, which you cannot describe in words. That’s something you just have to experience.
“But the best part for me is that many of the guys I played with in my time with Bayern were here today. I fought for five months to come back, and today was just the reward for it.”
After Kingsley Coman scored inside four minutes Bayern were given a minor scare when Sebastien Haller levelled five minutes after the break.
The response, though, was emphatic as David Alaba restored Bayern’s lead in the 53rd minute, with Renato Sanches making it 3-1 five minutes later prior to Ribery and Robben wrapping up the win and the title.
Proud coach Niko Kovac said: “Thanks to my team and our fans, we did a great job. We have achieved something incredible.
“We were nine points behind (runner-up Borussia Dortmund) in the fall – congratulations to my boys. I’m totally happy, but also drained.”
Robert Lewandowski, who clinched a fourth top-scorer trophy despite not adding to his 22 goals for the season, admitted to feeling emotional for Ribery and Robben.
“Before the match I saw the families of Arjen and Franck, I have to say, I nearly cried,” said Lewandowski.
The Poland striker added: “That was an endgame for us. We knew that today we not only had to win but to show who is the German champion.
“We played really well, had fun and scored a lot of goals. Even if the season was not so easy, we deserve to be German champion.”
Eintracht Frankfurt coach Adi Hutter naturally offered his “congratulations” to Bayern but was proud of his players given the season they have enjoyed.
Hutter said: “My players are completely squeezed like a lemon. That was game number 50 at a high level.
“We have finished seventh, reached the Europa League semi-final, had great nights.
“Many players have developed, so you can balance very, very positively this year. In my view, an absolutely positive conclusion. I’m very proud.”
Yet it also heralded the emergence of a new generation under coach Niko Kovac, with the likes of Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry establishing themselves as first team regulars.
As they look ahead to next season, Bayern are not only on the verge of a generational shift, but also of what club president Uli Hoeness has called “the biggest investment programme in our history”.
Bayern have already completed the signings of World Cup winning French defenders Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez for €35 million euros and a club record €80 million respectively.
RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner, Ajax defender Matthijs De Ligt and Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nuebel have all also been linked to the club in recent months.
Though Hoeness said on Saturday that Bayern would not break any more transfer records, they are expected to make several more signings, with CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge setting his sights on a new winger.
“Because we are losing Robben and Ribery, we need another good alternative alongside (18-year-old Canadian) Alphonso Davies,” Rummenigge told Bild newspaper last month.
That alternative could be Chelsea talent Callum Hudson-Odoi, for whom Bayern made an unsuccessful bid last January.
The first choice successors to Ribery and Robben, however, will be 22-year-old Kingsley Coman and 23-year-old Serge Gnabry, whom Hoeness has described as “the biggest surprise of the season”.
Kovac divides opinion
Other stars of Bayern’s golden decade have also seen young players emerging behind them this season.
Niklas Sule, 23, has muscled past Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng to become first choice centre-back, while Thomas Muller has faced competition from newcomer Leon Goretzka.
In a recent interview with Munich newspaper TZ, president Hoeness said the young players’ success was proof that Bayern had begun their overhaul at just the right time.
“We have gone through a transition at the highest level. We already have five or six young guys in the team and we will add a few more,” he said.
How much the successful transition is down to coach Niko Kovac, however, remains a bitterly divisive question at Bayern.
Despite winning a gruelling title race in his first season at the club, it remains to be seen whether the Croatian will be the man who leads Bayern into the new era.
Hoeness has repeatedly backed Kovac, while CEO Rummenigge has remained sceptical, telling Sky TV that “nobody has a job guarantee at Bayern”.
The coach has been unable to shake off reports that senior players are disgruntled with his leadership.
He was defiant on Saturday, saying he was “convinced” that he would see out the remaining two years of his contract.
“I talk to my bosses, and you get a feeling for the direction things are going in. I think I have interpreted them correctly,” he said on Saturday.
Whether Kovac stays or not, the winds of change are blowing through Munich, with departures also looming at boardroom level.
Rummenigge is set to be succeeded by former Bayern captain Oliver Kahn in 2021, while Hoeness recently told the club magazine that the day when he gives up the presidency is “not far off”.