Players struggling to cope - Rummenigge

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Bayern Munich website)
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Bayern Munich website)

Munich - Players at Europe's top clubs are increasingly suffering from muscle injuries because of the number of games they have to play, Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told dpa Tuesday.

Rummenigge called on football governing bodies FIFA and UEFA "to rethink the quantity and quality of their internationals", saying "the time has come to relieve the clubs."

Bayern have a number of players sidelined with muscle injuries, with central defender Jerome Boateng the latest long-term casualty.

But Rummenigge ruled out an emergency signing in the last few days of the January transfer window.

"There isn't a good player on the market," he said.

"Emergency solutions don't help at the end of the day. For this reason we won't do anything."

Boateng's injury is not as "dramatic" as first feared, and the Germany international could return "in the last third of the second half of the season," Rummenigge said.

Boateng tore a groin muscle in Friday's 2-1 win at SV Hamburg, leaving Bayern short of fit defenders.

The injuries have led to questions over training methods at Bayern under coach Pep Guardiola, but Rummenigge said muscle injuries were becoming more frequent at leading clubs.

"There is an analysis which I have been able to see at UEFA. It's striking that especially at the top clubs, players are dropping out with a certain amount of regularity, and it's a growing trend," he said.

"At Real Madrid in the first half of the season there were 16 muscle injuries - 16! The players are simply unable to cope.

"It's now up to UEFA and FIFA to rethink the quantity and quality of their internationals. For 25 years we have had an increase in internationals and competitions. That's a fact.

"A Nations Cup is now being added, there is a Confederations Cup in 2017 in which our national team as world champions will take part. That didn't used to exist either. Now a World Cup with 40 national teams is being discussed at FIFA."

Rummenigge said the "time has come to relieve the clubs." The German Bundesliga had remained stable at 34 matchdays, and a second group stage of the Champions League had been abolished.

"I miss the goodwill from the federations," he said. "Especially at FIFA, but also UEFA. Also in the discussion over Boateng all I hear is DFB, DFB (German football federation), European Championship. I have to say clearly: I recommend the DFB hold off here."

On Boateng, Rummenigge said the DFB would "have stress with FC Bayern" if there were any differences over his fitness.

"(Bayern midfielder) Mario Goetze injured himself four months ago in an international match, and is still not available today," he said.

"We had to go without Bastian Schweinsteiger for five months after the 2014 World Cup. The federations have to take the health of the players into consideration."

Bayern central defender Holger Badstuber, only recently back following serious knee and other injuries, will be eyeing a place in the German squad for Euro 2016, possibly as a replacement for Boateng. But Rummenigge urged caution, saying Badstuber's return needed to be treated "sensitively."

"We would all be pleased if Holger is in the Euro squad. But everything that happens with Holger on the way there can only be in total agreement with the club," he said.

Bayern's target remained winning the Bundesliga for a record fourth successive season and "to play a good role" in the German Cup and Champions League.

"I know that as Pep Guardiola is leaving us in the summer many expect the treble from us," he said.

"I am sure we will have a good second half of the season, but I recommend being a bit more rational and relaxed with public expectations."

Juventus, who have won 11 league games in a row, will be a difficult opponent in the Champions League last 16.

"It's no accident that Juve were in the Champions League final last season. We have respect for Juve," he said.

"It is important that we get into the best shape in the next few weeks. I have a lot of faith in Pep Guardiola and the team."

It was also good for the Bundesliga to have a club like Borussia Dortmund presenting a domestic challenge to Bayern.

"We have a lead of eight points, and also the better goal difference. That is a cushion. But of course we also have respect for Borussia Dortmund," he said.

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