Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry have what it takes to replace iconic Bayern Munich wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, according to club legend Claudio Pizarro.
Robben, 35, and Ribery, 36, are set to leave Bayern at the end of the season, with some observers suggesting that the record German champions would need to invest to replace such successful long-time servants.
But Pizarro, who may have helped his old teammates to win a seventh Bundesliga title in a row by scoring an equaliser for Werder Bremen against second-placed Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 32, believes that Coman and Gnabry can step up when Robben and Ribery depart.
“I think they are able to replace them,” Pizarro, who won six German titles during two separate spells in Munich, told Omnisport.
“You reach a certain point where you’ve got to stop [talking about Robben and Ribery], and new people arrive. This is normal, and these two are very good players. They will have a good development and do good things for Bayern.”
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Injury problems have restricted Dutch attacker Robben to just 11 Bundesliga appearances this season; former France international Ribery has five goals and three assists. His compatriot Coman has a similar return, while Germany attacker Gnabry has impressed by scoring 10 goals and making five more.
Former Arsenal attacker Gnabry is Bayern’s top goalscorer behind Robert Lewandowski, and this season became only the third player in Bundesliga history to reach double figures in three conseutive years for three different clubs.
A former teammate of Pizarro’s in Bremen, the 23-year-old ex-Hoffenheim man was nominated for the Bundesliga’s Player of the Month award for April.
Robben and Ribery, meanwhile, have already won 15 Bundesliga titles between them – not to mention the 2013 UEFA Champions League – since arriving in Bavaria in 2009 and 2007 respectively. They could claim yet more silverware before their departure, with Bayern on course to win the league again as long as they avoid defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
The wily wingers should get another emotional send off when Bayern face RB Leipzig in the DFB Cup final on 25 May, and Pizarro said he hoped that both players find something “they really want to do” once they leave Munich.
Cladio Pizarro and Arjen Robben played together at Bayern Munich between 2012 and 2015. – imago/Sven Simon
“I know Arjen a bit better to be honest, because I was at Chelsea for one year together with him,” the 40-year-old Peruvian veteran said.
“Since then we had a very good relationship on and off the pitch. I was very happy when he returned to the pitch again after his injury.Both are special players on the wing. They would be important for any team. They are good at one-on-ones, and how they score goals is essential for any team. It was an honour for me to play with them, and I wish them all the best.”