Bayern Munich are happy to make a return to Doha for their annual winter training camp for the tenth time in a row, and the team is ready to make the most of their seven-day stay in the sport-loving city, the club’s interim manager Hansi Flick has said.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Flick said that the team has always looked forward to coming to Qatar to prepare for the second phase of the Bundesliga as the time spent in the country has always helped in the team’s rejuvenation besides getting them in good stead for the challenges of the rest of the season.
“It is always good to have a place like Qatar to retreat to in preparation for the second phase of the league. The facilities here are superb and I believe we are going to have a good time during this camping session which will bode well for the players and everyone in the team,” the 54-year-old manager, who took charge after Niko Kovac was sacked in early November and is expected to remain with the team at least till the end of the season, said.
The team arrived in Doha with a contingent of 26 players excluding four of the regulars – Niklas Süle, Javi Martínez, Robert Lewandowski, and Kingsley Coman – who are down with injuries.
Bayern had another injury scare earlier in the day as Germany international Serge Gnabry was unable to take part in the training at the Aspire Academy, and instead spent around 30 minutes working with the team physios.
“We had running practice this morning, and that’s when he had to stop,” Flick said. “He has Achilles tendon problems. We have to treat it very, very seriously, and hope to have him back soon.”
Speaking about the rumoured departure of veteran defender Jerome Boateng and versatile player David Alaba from the club during the currrent winter transfer window, Flick said both players are here to stay and he doesn’t envisage them leaving the club anytime soon.
“I cannot imagine Boateng leaving as he is an integral player for us and we believe he is happy with the club. He trained well during the holidays and he has not told me anything about leaving,” he said.
Arsenal are said to be interested in Boateng, the man of the match during the final of the 2014 World Cup, and the 31-year-old is speculated to be open to a new challenge in the current transfer window.
A succession of injury issues have affected the performance of the player in recent years and he has started just eight games in the Bundesliga this season for the league champions with his performances somehow suspect, especially when faced with dynamic and fast forwards.
Regarding Alaba, said to have caught Chelsea’s interest with the London club rumoured to be weighing in on placing a $78-million (£60 million) bid on him, Flick, an assistant with the Germany team that won the 2014 World Cup, said “Alaba is not for sale. He is here with us and happy to be a part of the team.”
On the signing of 23-year-old goalkeeper Alexander Nübel, who will be joining the team from FC Schalke 04 in the summer, Flick said that the signing is no threat to anybody’s position in the team.
“He (Nübel) will be coming to shore up the team and help us achieve our goals like everyone else. He is a welcome addition and I believe he will make us stronger,” he said.
Bayern Munich will stay in Qatar until January 10, but the team will not play any friendly matches this time around.