Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer has criticised Michael Ballack’s decision to join Chelsea, insisting the player would have been better off joining Manchester United instead.
The Germany international joined the London club from Bayern last summer but has had an unsettled start to his Premier League career, making just 26 league appearances as Chelsea surrendered the title to United last term.
And this week the 30-year-old midfielder was not included in Chelsea’s squad for the Champions League group stage due to fitness issues, prompting Beckenbauer to question the wisdom of his move.
“I think it was a mistake to move to that club (Chelsea),” he told German newspaper Bild.
“There was a space available for his position with Manchester United and he would have fitted into their system perfectly. The same with Real Madrid. But at Chelsea his role was already filled by Frank Lampard.”
Speculation over Ballack’s future has been further intensified this week by Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster, who claimed it was only the matter of an agent’s fee that stopped the midfielder going to Spain this summer.
Both Real and Manchester United were touted as possible destinations for Ballack before he moved to Chelsea, but Beckenbauer thinks the player is now running out of options.
“Where can he move to now?” he pondered.
“His first transfer opportunity is during the winter, and I hardly suppose Bernd Schuster’s Madrid are interested after bringing in Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder.”
And Beckenbauer was also quick to rule out a return to the Bundesliga leaders after the club shelled out almost £50million this summer on a squad revamp after missing out on the Champions League.
“No, that won’t happen,” he said.
“Firstly it isn’t what he wants and in all honesty we can no longer afford to pay his wages.”
Beckenbauer does however offer sympathy to Ballack, who is in danger of becoming embroiled in a club-versus-country row over his ankle problems.
“Looking from afar, you get the feeling that Ballack is caught in the middle of German doctors and English club doctors,” he added.
“It would be regrettable if the player was made to suffer. I just hope he can get back as soon as possible.”