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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Carlo Ancelotti: James Rodriguez not at Bayern Munich to replace Thomas Muller

Bayern Munich manager was speaking in Shanghai ahead of a glamour friendly match against Premier League side Arsenal

Bayern Munich's James Rodriguez in training in Shanghai, China on July 18, 2017.
Bayern Munich's James Rodriguez in training in Shanghai, China on July 18, 2017.

Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti rubbished suggestions on Tuesday that James Rodriguez was signed to replace misfiring German international Thomas Muller.

The Colombian last week joined the Bundesliga champions from Real Madrid on a two-year loan that some have interpreted as a threat to Muller, who is coming off the back of a poor season by his high standards.

Rodriguez, too, has something to prove after losing his place at Madrid, and Ancelotti - who managed him in Spain - expects the 26-year-old playmaker to hit the ground running.

Rodriguez gives the Italian manager a broad range of options in midfield and attack.

But speaking in Shanghai on the eve of a pre-season glamour friendly with Arsenal and with Muller next to him, Ancelotti told a news conference: "Of course we did not buy James to replace Thomas Muller.

"It's clear because if we think this, we also think James can replace Thiago [Alcantara] because James can play in offensive midfield, and we think because James can play on the right, that he can replace [Arjen] Robben and [Franck] Ribery.

"James can also play on the left and as a midfielder ... we did not buy James to replace anyone. We bought James to have a better team and with James we have a team with better quality.

"But James also knows that if he does not deserve to play, he does not play."

Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller.
Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller.

The capture of Rodriguez has not gone down well in some quarters among Bayern fans because, despite his struggles last season in front of goal, Muller remains hugely popular.

The 27-year-old Germany international, who like Rodriguez can play in several forward positions, shrugged off the increased pressure for places.

"We are here and James is here to break the rumours and he gives the team more options, and I am sure the coach is happy to have him here and have more options in the future," said Muller, smiling broadly.

"James is a very good player who will help us improve the team."